As part of our summer series, the Johnson & Wales athletics department is counting down the Top 10 stories from the 2016-17 school year. A group of staff members, coaches and student-athletes selected the best 10 stories from another great season of Wildcat athletics.
Here is #3:
In the fall of 2013, Caitlin Hansen commenced the first women's lacrosse team at Johnson & Wales. Fast forward to May 7, 2017 and the Wildcats were hoisting the GNAC Championship trophy.
After just missing out on a conference title in 2016, coach Hansen front-loaded this year's schedule to get the Wildcats ready for league play. Following a 13-12 loss to Westfield State on March 23, JWU stood at 3-4, but from there the Wildcats were nearly unstoppable.
Johnson & Wales rattled off 13-straight victories, including a 19-5 blowout of Simmons in the GNAC finale. The seventh-best offense in the country, JWU scored at least 18 goals in 12 out of those 13 victories. During that run, the Wildcats avenged their 2016 championship game loss to Lasell with a 14-13 decision.
Led by senior Lydia Knapp, the Wildcats had seven different players score 30 or more points. Knapp, the NCAA active leader in points, goals and draw controls, finished her career fifth in NCAA history with GNAC-record 475 draw controls.
Knapp was joined on the First-Team All-GNAC squad by Alexandra Anton, Raquel Pederzani and Elizabeth Tonn. Anton led the league with 42 assists. All told, the Wildcats had nine players honored by the league coaches. For her efforts, Hansen was named GNAC Coach of the Year.
Putting JWU over the top this year was its defense. Led by Tonn and GNAC Goalkeeper of the Year Maria Consiglio, the Wildcats reduced their goals against average by two goals. Consiglio was
second during conference action with a 6.03 GAA. Her overall 8.14 GAA was third in the league and set a JWU single-season record. Consiglio also set a new program record with a 45.1 save percentage.
The magical run came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats hung with Babson early, but in the end, the Beavers were too much. Knapp's departure will leave big shoes to fill as Pederzani, Anton and freshman Maria Patane will pick up the slack offensively. Tonn will be back for her senior year, but the Wildcats also lose Consiglio in goal.