NEWARK, Del. – An experienced 2014 University of Delaware women’s lacrosse squad will kick of its journey to the program’s first-ever Colonial Athletic Association championship as the Blue Hens travel to No. 10 Georgetown Saturday for a 1 p.m. draw.

Delaware returns 25 student-athletes, including 11 starters, from a 2013 squad that finished 10-6 overall and posted the highest winning percentage since the 2008 season. Additionally, the Blue Hens have added eight newcomers as UD strives to return to national prominence.  Delaware’s rookies will add a new energy and skill set to an already balanced squad.

Fourth-year head coach and Delaware alumna Kateri Linville continues to impart a team philosophy that in order to be the best, one must play and beat the best in the country.

Following that philosophy, the Blue Hens will face opponents from eight different conferences, including seven 2013 NCAA tournament teams and four nationally ranked foes.  Delaware split pre-season scrimmages with a win at No. 7 Duke while falling just short against the defending national champion and the top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.

“We know that there are two roads to the NCAA Tournament and we must be successful through non-conference wins and our conference championship in order to achieve that goal of reaching post-season play,” stated Linville.

Junior captain and preseason All-CAA pick Caitlin McCartney (Doylestown, Pa.) is the team’s top returner after leading the conference and finishing 21st nationally with 2.93 goals per game in 2013.  Additionally, the midfielder was second in the conference with four game-winning goals and third with 3.29 points per game.

Joining McCartney on the team’s leadership council are seniors Alex Alois (Andover, Mass.) and Tori Zorovich (Massapequa, N.Y.) in addition to sophomore Abby Wheble (Avondale, Pa.). 

Alois and Wheble will be key members of the defensive unit’s core as the duo combined for 20 groundballs, six draw controls and eight caused turnovers last season. 

Linville also sees team strength in the goaltending unit as the Blue Hens return veterans in Zorovich and junior Alex Zaugra (Medford Lakes, N.J.).  The pair allowed just 8.56 goals per game last season, a mark good for second in the league.

The attack corps has enhanced under the guidance of assistant coach and US Lacrosse National Team member Kristen Carr and will be looked to improve the tempo of the game this coming season.  The offense will also be looked to add more depth, skill set and versatility to the Hens.  CAA All-Rookie team honoree Kara Dattellas (Camillus, N.Y.) is expected to make an immediate impact for Delaware after tremendous fall ball and pre-season performances.

Dattellas is one of 11 sophomores on the squad, the largest class on the team.  The group has improved its commitment and performance to the team since last year.  Shannon Hawley (Camillus, N.Y.) and Ali Karwoski (Phoenixville, Pa.) join Dattellas and Wein as the core of the class.

Overall, the Blue Hens have added increased speed, quickness, depth and skill sets for the upcoming season that features 16 regular season contests.