Opening weekend filled with historic milestones for UWLX

As the highly anticipated opening day arrived, it would prove to be an exciting time for the United Women’s Lacrosse League (UWLX). League co-founder Digit Murphy, one of the most accomplished women’s hockey coaches of her generation always liked to tell her players, “Every day, we are making history.”
Undoubtedly, that pioneering spirit defined opening day as all four teams took to the field at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. As a side note, all teams shall be participating in a barnstorming schedule, allowing a great opportunity for fans throughout the Eastern United States to appreciate this latest chapter in American women’s sports.

With pleasant 91 degree weather, complemented by a vigorous sunshine blanketing the field of play, it helped set the tone for opening day. The emphasis on such a meaningful day was one defined by sportsmanship, fair play and perhaps more importantly, an empowering achievement.

Such a day started with the Baltimore Ride and the Long Island Sound facing off, both ambitiously looking towards gaining the first win in league history. With no shortage of talent on either side, as evidenced by the results in the historic UWLX Draft, excitement built as to which player would score the first goal of the game, which would simultaneously be the first in league history.

This unique distinction would belong to Baltimore’s Beth Glaros, who took a feed from Courtney Swan, firing the ball past Long Island goaltender Devon Wills. Said goal would be scored under the four minute mark, although the early lead would not be relished for long.

Action from inaugural UWLX match. Photo credit: John Strohsacker

Action from inaugural UWLX match. Photo credit: John Strohsacker

Long Island quickly replied, as McKinley Curro tallied the equalizer, making her own mark with the first goal in team history. Curro would continue to make an impression early in the game, breaking the tie with the first two-point goal in league history.

Despite the advantage, Long Island would not be able to contain Baltimore, watching its lead evaporate. By halftime, Baltimore enjoyed a 7-6 lead, as head coach Jen Adams, one of the most prominent individuals in modern lacrosse, was in a position to possibly become the first winning coach in league history.

As the second half progressed, neither team was able to make any inroads and grab a convincing lead. Instead, the score was 12-12 heading into the last minute of play. Although Baltimore would score the first goal of the game, it was Long Island that would score the last. Alyssa Leonard would score the first game-winning goal in UWLX history as goaltender Devon Wills made a last second save to preserve the historic win. Lindsay Scott would also lead the way for Long Island by scoring the first hat trick in franchise history.

Boston Storm and Baltimore Ride players chat in between games (Image obtained from: https://twitter.com/unitedwlax)

Boston Storm and Baltimore Ride players chat in between games (Image obtained from: https://twitter.com/unitedwlax)

With the Philadelphia Force and Boston Storm both fighting for bragging rights in the second game, anticipation built over which players would log their respective team’s first-ever goals. Rebecca Lynch would carve her place in league history, logging the first goal of the game and the first in Force history. Assisted by Hilary Bowen, Boston first round pick Liz Hogan allowed said goal.

Despite the early setback, Boston’s Kailah Kempney would tie the score, recording the club’s first goal, with the assist credited to Danielle Estrasco. The quick exchange of goals set the tone for most of the first half as the score was tied at 5-5. Despite Philadelphia’s Katie Webster breaking the deadlock, it would be the last time that her team enjoyed any scoring advantage in the game. Boston would score another four goals, as the scoreboard at halftime reflected a 9-6 lead in their favor.

As Philadelphia goaltender Bridget Bianco was peppered with shots in the second half, compiling 11 overall, her teammates struggled to mount an offensive attack, managing to score only two more goals. The second half saw Boston make adjustments, as their defense shut down the Force. With the offense maintaining their high scoring ways, Boston would emerge as the highest scoring team on opening day, compiling 16 goals.

The 16-8 final saw Danielle Spencer of Boston and Kara Mupo of Philadelphia lead their teams in scoring. Coincidentally, each player would score a two-point tally, resulting in other franchise firsts. Statistically, Spencer’s five points were a game-high, while Kempney scored four goals and Estrasco logged a hat trick for Boston. Other goal scorers for the victorious Boston squad included Kristin Igoe, Tanner Guarino and Kara Cannizzaro.

UWLX the newest chapter in Dana Dobbie’s distinguished career

As the Baltimore Ride prepare for their inaugural season in the ground-breaking UWLX, the squad shall consist of a proud international presence. Raised in Guelph, Ontario, Dobbie becomes the first Canadian ever drafted in UWLX history.

Having established herself as one of the finest competitors in the history of the Maryland Terrapins, Dobbie is also the most decorated player among those that have donned the Maple Leaf for the Canadian national women’s lacrosse team. Selected by the Ride with their eighth overall pick, she may prove to be the steal of the draft.

Joining Dobbie on the Ride are four other Terrapins alums including Katie Schwarzmann, the first pick overall in the draft, Alex Aust, Beth Glaros and Brooke Griffin. In addition, there is a highly familiar face in head coach Jen Adams.

Since 2007, their exemplary lacrosse careers have run parallel. A native of Australia, Adams made history as the first-ever female recipient of the Tewaaraton Trophy, and was on the Terrapins coaching staff when Dobbie transferred from Ohio University.

One year after graduating, Dobbie would join Adams on the coaching staff of the Baltimore-based Loyola Greyhounds. With Adams gaining her first head coaching opportunity, Dobbie would prove to be the perfect fit on her coaching staff. Since then, the results have spoken for themselves with back-to-back Big East postseason titles and consecutive Patriot League crowns. As a side note, the two are proprietors in Seven Lacrosse Training.

Appointed as the first head coach in Ride franchise history, Adams will definitely look to Dobbie to provide team leadership. As the Ride allows Dobbie and Adams to be on the same team for the third time in their careers, their lacrosse legacies should help positively shape the team culture, propelling the club into the conversation for the first-ever UWLX championship.

While Dobbie built a solid career in coaching, she has still proven to be a superstar on the field. Considering the perspective obtained from coaching, her acumen has translated into an even more proficient on-field vision, which benefits her teammates.
For the younger players on the Ride, Dobbie will definitely take on the personna of a playing coach.

As the cornerstone of the Canadian national team, Dobbie has appeared in the last two FIL Women’s World Cups (2009, 2013). At the 2013 edition of the World Cup, held on Canadian soil in Oshawa, Ontario, she would lead the national team to a silver medal, its best-ever finish in World Cup history.

Although the 2013 FIL World Cup did not have the same fanfare as the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup (of which Canada was the host country), it was still a landmark event in Canadian female sporting history. Undoubtedly, what Christine Sinclair means to women’s soccer in Canada, Dobbie holds that same impact for women’s lacrosse.

In the aftermath of Canada capturing the gold medal at the 2015 U18 Women’s World Championships, Dobbie showed a touch of class and published an open letter online praising the team’s historic efforts. Displaying a remarkable sincerity and gratitude, it was testament to Dobbie’s strong leadership, setting a positive example for those young players to emulate.

Franchise foundations part of inaugural UWLX Draft class

As the UWLX nears closer to its opening day, the 2016 UWLX Draft brought with it a sense of anticipation for its growing fan base, eager to see which of the game’s brightest stars would be landing.

The first round consisted of a phenomenal class as the Boston Storm selected goaltender Liz Hogan. It was a trend that continued as the Long Island Sound obtained legendary goaltender Devon Wills with their first pick. The first female player to sign a contract in the men’s National Lacrosse League, Wills, who also starred with Dartmouth and Team USA is poised to become a star attraction in the incipient league.

Midfielder Katie Schwarzmann would become the first-ever draft pick in Baltimore Ride history, while attacker Michelle Tumolo shall be expected to be a significant part of the offensive attack for the Philly Force. Taking into account their geographic proximity, the Baltimore-Philadelphia rivalry should be among the finest in UWLX, with Schwarzmann and Tumolo headlining many epic contests.

Complete list of picks by team:

Boston Storm
1: Liz Hogan, Goalie
2: Jenn Russell, Defender
3: Sarah Bullard, Midfielder
4: Kara Cannizzaro, Midfielder
5: Erin Slifer, Midfielder
6: Holly Reilly, Defender
7: Danielle Etrasco, Attacker
8: Kailah Kempney, Attacker
9: Kristin Igoe, Midfielder
10: Colleen Magarity, Midfielder

Baltimore Ride
1: Katie Schwarzmann, Midfielder
2: Alex Aust, Attacker
3: Kristen Carr, Defender
4: Brooke Griffin, Attacker
5: Allyson Carey, Midfielder
6: Morgan Stephens, Defender
7: Courtney Swan, Attacker
8: Dana Dobbie, Attacker
9: Beth Glaros, Midfielder
10: Sam Farrell, Defender

Long Island Sound
1: Devon Wills, Goalie
2: Alyssa Leonard, Attacker
3: Shannon Gilroy, Midfielder (Florida)
4: Becca Block, Defender (Syracuse)
5: Megan Douty, Defender (Maryland)
6: Sloane Serpe, Defender (North Carolina)
7: Nora Barry, Midfielder (Florida)
8: Katrina Dowd, Attacker (Northwestern)
9: Katie Rowan, Attacker (Syracuse)
10: Kelly McPartland, Midfielder (Maryland)

Philly Force
1: Michelle Tumolo, Attacker
2: Alyssa Murray, Attacker
3: Kara Mupo, Attacker
4: Bridget Bianco, Goalie
5: Becky Lynch, Attacker
6: Casey Pepperman, Defender
7: Demmianne Cook, Midfielder
8: Katie Hertsch, Defender
9: Emily Garrity, Midfielder
10: Samantha Cermack, Midfielder