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YOUTH MOVEMENT: Q&A with Navy Women's Lacrosse Freshmen

April 25, 2009

HAMILTON, N.Y. - A year ago, the Navy women's lacrosse program embarked upon an historic inaugural Division I season while fielding one of the youngest rosters in the nation. This spring, the upstart Midshipmen women's program has taken yet another step forward, advancing to its first Patriot League Championship after their second consecutive double-digit win season.

With a roster featuring 14 freshmen and a total of 23 underclassmen, Navy's recipe for success in 2009 has once again been spurred on by a talented group of youngsters. This season, nearly half the members of the Mids' freshman class have become steady contributors in the team's regular rotation, with a total of six different rookies earning nods in the starting 12. recently caught up several members of Navy's Class of 2012 to learn more about each player's background, interests and experiences thus far as Midshipmen.

Kierstin King
Position: Midfielder Hometown: Upperco, Md. High School: Hereford

On King:
A two-time Patriot League Rookie of the Week honoree, King ranks second amongst Navy freshman with 29 points on 19 goals and 10 assists. This season, she has demonstrated a non-stop motor and a terrific knack for the ball, collecting 41 ground balls and 27 draws, while also ranking among the team leaders in caused turnovers with 16.

Why did you choose to attend the Naval Academy?
I came here because I wanted a challenge and because of the multitude of opportunities the Academy has to offer. In addition, I really wanted to be a part of the group that helped build the foundation for Navy as a DI women's lacrosse program.

What is your favorite aspect of being a part of the Navy women's lacrosse team?
My teammates are definitely the best part of playing lacrosse here. The support system has been amazing and as a plebe my teammates have always been there to give me advice because they have been through it. While lacrosse is a huge part of our lives, we all know that lacrosse is just a subset to the overall mission at the Naval Academy.



How did you get started in lacrosse?
I started playing lacrosse in third grade. I didn't really like it at the time, but my dad had played and he thought it was a good idea to sign me up for the local youth team. And I'm glad he did because it has opened up many great opportunities for me.

Elaina Ponchione
Position: Goalie Hometown: Silver Spring, Md. High School: Our Lady of Good Counsel

Freshman Elaina Ponchione

On Ponchione:
One of only five freshmen to earn All-Patriot League honors, Ponchione has immediately proven herself to be one of the conference's rising stars. In addition to her second-team all league-nod, she was chosen as the league's goalkeeper-of-the-week three times on the spring. Entering the week, Ponchione stood sixth nationally in goals-against average and was tied for the 15th-best save percentage in the country. Her credentials also rank highly amongst the nation's first-year netminders: first in wins (13), second in GAA (8.29) and third in save percentage (.491).

Why did you choose to attend the Naval Academy?
I chose to attend the Naval Academy because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. What could be better than receiving an awesome education, having a job waiting for you right out of college, having the opportunity to serve your country, and being part of a brand new lacrosse program with this much potential.

How did you get started in lacrosse?
I got started playing lacrosse in middle school. I played for one year as a field player and things didn't quite work out for me. In freshman year of high school our JV team didn't have a goalie so I figured I should give it a try. The coaches were reluctant because of my height and size, but I insisted on trying it and really fell in love with the position that first day of tryouts.

Who has been your most influential role model and why?
My most influential role model is definitely my father. He is from Pennsylvania and he had never even heard of the sport lacrosse until I picked up a stick in eighth grade.

He has always been extremely involved in athletics in my life so he read up on it and taught himself the sport just so he could coach my team - which was coachless! When I picked up goalie my freshman year he bought tons of instructional videos and started working with me on the basics.

Once I had the fundamentals down he took me to just about every college clinic or camp on the east coast. That's where I got a lot of my experience and really developed my skills. We would work out in the backyard every week over those four years in high school. He made me into the player I am today.

Laura Nevin
Position: Defender Hometown: Hampstead, Md. High School: Mount De Sales Academy

On Nevin:
An imposing presence on the Mids' backline standing at 5-foot-11, Nevin has made an immediate contribution in her first season. She has

Freshman Laura Nevin

started eight games and during the team's stretch run, she has seen significant minutes as the first defender off the Navy bench.

Why did you choose to attend the Naval Academy?
I wanted to come to the Naval Academy to, first and foremost, serve my country. But, along with that I wanted to attend a college that would challenge me in all aspects. I also really like the schedule here at the Academy, it helps me get everything that I need to done and helps me stay focused.

What has been the hardest, most surprising aspect about transitioning from high school to college?
Athletically, the most challenging aspect of college lacrosse versus high school lacrosse is the time commitment. We not only spend around two hours a day at practice, but we also have lifting, film and scouting. I have had to learn how to manage my time that way I can be everywhere I need to for lax and still get all my school work done at the same time.

Who is your most influential role model and why?
My most influential role model is Doctor Ben Carson. Dr. Carson overcame tremendous obstacles to become one of the leading neurosurgeons in the U.S. He never gave up his dream of becoming a doctor no matter what people told him or what was thrown in his direction.

I try to remember his motto "T.H.I.N.K B.I.G" to remind myself to stay focused and work hard that way I too can attain my goals. It stands for Talent/Time, Hope, Insight, Nice, Knowledge, Books, In-depth learning, and God.

Dani Vivonetto
Position: Attack Hometown: Rocky Point, N.Y. High School: Rocky Point

Freshman Dani Vivonetto

On Vivonetto: In her first collegiate season, Vivonetto has proven herself to be a prolific finisher and a constant threat going to the cage. She ranks second on the team behind Erin Rawlick and second in the Patriot League amongst freshmen with 31 goals in 15 games. Vivonetto shook off an early-season injury that forced her out of two games and limited her in several others. She has produced six hat tricks on the season, highlighted by her team season-best six-goal effort against Howard.

Why did you choose to attend the Naval Academy?
I've wanted to come to the Naval Academy since I was in eighth grade but at that time the program was still club so I never really considered it.

Division I lacrosse was always my primary focus so as soon as I found out that Coach Timchal would be coaching at Navy, I felt that nothing could be better than playing for Cindy Timchal on one Navy's first women's lacrosse teams.

What is your favorite aspect of being a part of the Navy women's lacrosse team?
My favorite aspect is just knowing that we are one of the first ever Division I women's lacrosse teams and we have the chance to really leave our mark at the Academy. It's very exciting to know that we have the privilege of setting the bar as high as possible for the future of the program.

Who is your most influential role model and why?
I started playing lacrosse when I was eight years old after I saw my older brother, Jack, playing. Jack was the oldest in my family so my siblings and I wanted to do everything he did. He is the men's lacrosse team captain at Hofstra and is still my greatest role model. He is the most hard-working and courageous person I know, I constantly push myself to be more like him.

Madison Bell
Position: Midfielder High School: Eastern Technical Hometown: Baltimore, Md.

On Bell:
A do-it-all midfielder, Bell has started all 17 games this season for the Mids. She has proved to be one of the team's hardest workers and as a freshman has found success in every facet of the game. Bell has scored 22 goals on 59.5% shooting and totaled 25 points, while ranking amongst the Navy leaders in ground balls (35), draws (24) and caused turnovers (12).

Why did you choose to attend the Naval Academy?
I chose the Naval Academy because the education and reputation of this school are unbeatable. When I came on my official visit, everyone I met was very refined and courteous. I realized that coming here would develop my character in ways that no other college could.

Freshman Madison Bell

What is your favorite aspect of being a part of the Navy women's lacrosse team?
I love being a part of the Navy women's lacrosse team because it's like having a second family. We go through a lot together, and it really just brings us closer together. It's nice to have an escape from life in Bancroft, and it's even more important to be around people who are looking out for you and can take you under their wing.

How did you get started in lacrosse?
When I was eight or nine years old a friend of mine played lacrosse, and her dad got me into the sport. I actually hated it my first year; I could barely catch a ball, and they made me play goalie! My dad made me stick it out another year, and I'm so glad that he did because I've loved the sport ever since!

Who is your most influential role model and why?
I think that both of our assistant coaches, Kristen Waagbo and Kelly Coppedge are really great role models. Every time they step on the field to play with us at practice they dominate! But most importantly, you can always tell how much fun they're having when they play because they can't wipe the smiles off their faces. They both have such a passion for the game, and with that much love for the sport you can't help but be great.

Abby Ellis
Position: Defender High School: Girls Preparatory School Hometown: Ooltewah, Tenn.

Freshman Abby Ellis

On Ellis:
A rock-steady low defender, Ellis has earned 17 starts and played nearly every minute of every game this spring. Her efforts on the backline have been a major reason why the Mids entered the week boasting the sixth-ranked scoring defense in the country. Ellis is tied with senior teammate Kristen Laraway for the ground ball lead amongst Navy's defenders with 18, has corralled seven draws and has been credited with forcing eight turnovers.

Why did you choose to attend the Naval Academy?
I really was committed to finding somewhere that offered first-rate academics. I come from a private school background so the structure which the Academy offers was definitely also something that was appealing to me as well. There are just so many different opportunities here, if you are lucky enough to have the chance - it's hard not to take it.

How did you get started in lacrosse?
Growing up in Tennessee, there obviously weren't too many opportunities to play. The game wasn't very big at all, but when I was in eight grade my school decided to start a lacrosse program. They were the first school in Chattanooga to add lacrosse and I am definitely happy that they did.

What is your favorite aspect of being a part of the Navy women's lacrosse team?
All my teammates have just been so helpful. As a freshman, the time commitment and challenges of Academy life can really push you. Knowing that my teammates, especially the upperclassmen who have been through it already, are there to lend a hand is invaluable.


The Navy women's lacrosse team will battle top-seed and defending conference champion Colgate in the 2009 Patriot League Women's Lacrosse Championship on Sunday at 1:00 pm on Tyler's Field in Hamilton, N.Y.

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