CAA Women's Lacrosse

CAA Aims To Remain Among Elite Women's Lacrosse Conferences In 2022

CAA Aims To Remain Among Elite Women's Lacrosse Conferences In 2022

CAA women’s lacrosse placed four teams in the NCAA Tournament, saw five programs earn IWLCA Top 25 spots, and was rated the #2 in the NCAA’s RPI in 2021.

Feb 15, 2022 by FloSports Staff
CAA Aims To Remain Among Elite Women's Lacrosse Conferences In 2022
RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 10, 2022) – A Division I women’s lacrosse conference placed four teams in the NCAA Tournament, saw five programs earn IWLCA Top 25 rankings, and was rated the No. 2 conference in the NCAA’s RPI in 2021.

That conference? The Colonial Athletic Association, looking to build off a statement season last spring as it contends among the nation’s elite conferences in 2022 and beyond.

With the rise of previously unheralded programs into the national conversation, the consistency of conference stalwarts, and promising squads looking to continue their ascent, the 2022 CAA season promises to be must-watch lacrosse from February to May.

Drexel goalkeeper Zoe Bennett has experienced the climb of the Dragons program from a 4-12 team as a freshman to a top-10 team nationally in 2021. Drexel’s historic season last spring included a CAA regular season title and the team’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Bennett, the last line of defense for a Drexel squad that also welcomes back CAA Preseason Player of the Year Karson Harris and Colleen Grady – both IL Women Preseason All-America honorees – appreciates the battles in league play and how they strengthen a team for May lacrosse.

“It’s the best preparation you can get,” said Bennett. “When we go through the conference schedule playing hard, close games, once you get to May – that first weekend and the CAA Championship; when you get into the NCAA Tournament – there’s not a situation you haven’t seen yet.”

Drexel is ranked No. 16 in the preseason, while defending CAA champion James Madison came in at No. 12 in the ILWomen/IWLCA poll to begin the season. The 2018 national champions will face a gauntlet in the non-conference that begins with No. 2 North Carolina and includes additional ranked opponents UConn, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia, and Maryland. JMU welcomes back two ILWomen Preseason All-America honorees in Molly Dougherty and Rachel Matey.

Sonia LaMonica has helped lead Towson to four of the last five NCAA Tournaments with three earned via an at-large selection. That is how the Tigers secured a berth in 2021, underscoring how the strength of the league allows for conference teams to build their resumes with the rigors of the CAA schedule and challenging themselves in the non-conference.

“The CAA’s such a tough, tough league,” said LaMonica. “As coaches, we always have our work cut out for us when it comes to preparing for some of the great players within our conference and the great coaches we’re coaching against. That grittiness and those dogfights that we face in CAA play are good preparation for when our teams go to the NCAA Tournament.”

Like LaMonica in the lacrosse hotbed of Maryland, Hofstra’s Shannon Smith coaches a program in one of the locations most passionate about the sport. The Pride’s resume in 2021 included three wins over ranked CAA opponents and a non-conference slate that included back-to-back matchups with eventual national champion Boston College and perennial NCAA quarterfinalist Stony Brook – a combination that earned Hofstra an RPI of 11 and a berth in the NCAA Tournament field.

“We have to prepare ourselves for our conference by scheduling tough non-conference opponents,” said Smith. “We have to make sure we are prepared for CAA games because the league is so tough. Any given day in our conference, any team can beat another team, and you are playing ranked opponent after ranked opponent.”

Elon is looking to get back into the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2017, when a 13-win Phoenix squad collected an at-large bid into the field. The 2022 Elon schedule follows the mold of Hofstra’s 2021 slate of challenging non-conference opponents and CAA battles – the latter of which Phoenix midfielder Mikaela Buoscio is well-versed in after her 2021 experiences.

“We’re lucky to have the opportunity to play high-ranked teams in not just our non-conference but also our conference schedule,” said Buoscio. “The games we play in the CAA put us in position to get better as a team, and to know that every game is a challenge gives us more drive and fire in every practice.”

Delaware and William & Mary aim to set themselves up for the springboard enjoyed by Drexel in 2021 or other CAA teams in recent years – teams that benefit from battles in February and March and bolster their resumes further in April and May. Both the Blue Hens and Tribe put together non-conference slates full of ranked opponents in preparation for the six games of clashes that await in CAA play.

The long-term strength of the league promises to hold true beyond 2022 as well, as Stony Brook – ranked No. 6 in the ILWomen/IWLCA preseason poll – was announced as an all-sports addition to the league for the 2023 lacrosse season earlier this winter, along with Monmouth, coming off a third-straight winning season and aiming to close its pre-CAA days with a conference title.

The CAA looks to continue its place among the nation’s top women’s lacrosse conferences this spring – something LaMonica recognizes a special opportunity for the league in its short and long-term future.

“We have a lot of pride in the league we play in, and we expect to be there in postseason play,” said LaMonica. “That’s ultimately what we’re vying for. Our league being as strong as it is demonstrates that we are one of the top conferences in the country.”

With the opening draw of the 2022 season merely hours away, the CAA is ready to go.

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