Lacrosse Season Preview Series: Midfielders
TEMPE, Ariz. - With the 2022 Sun Devil Lacrosse season less than a week away, now is a good time to learn more about the 44 members of the program.
Who better to talk about the state of the program than someone who was just a part of it. Recent Arizona State graduate Hanna Schuler, who was a defender for the Maroon & Gold from 2018-21, has secured her Master's degree and is now working in Sun Devil Athletics while pursuing a career in the communications field.
To give Sun Devil fans some insight on the team, Schuler is providing a position-by-position breakdown of the 2022 team. Earlier in the preseason, she dove into the defensive unit. The series continues with a closer look at the powerful and productive midfield unit. They serve an important role on both offense and defense, allowing ASU to be extremely versatile with their style of play.
SEASON PREVIEW: MIDFIELDERS
When asked about the schedule this year, Head Coach Tim McCormack stated "We're excited to take some of these teams on. We've got a really, really good schedule this year. It's a chance to prove to ourselves, continuously throughout the year, that we belong at this level and that's very exciting."
This year's schedule is a bit of a homecoming for all three coaches. Coach McCormack was an Assistant Coach for 6 seasons at Northwestern while Assistant Coach Dorrien Van Dyke played at Stony Brook for four seasons. Assistant Coach Nicole Graziano played at Florida for four seasons and was also an Assistant Coach at Rutgers. Coach McCormack explained, "It's cool to be able to go back and play people that you had a chance to be a part of their process, and you know they get excited about it as well."
A challenging 2022 slate will put the Sun Devil midfielders to the test. Coach McCormack has the luxury of having plenty of options and flexibility with this diverse unit.
"This group is extremely deep, talented, and constantly pushing each other to get better," Coach McCormack remarked. "The competition for playing time has been fierce and I am extremely pleased with how this unit has developed leading up to the season."
A total of 20 midfielders are included on the Sun Devil roster, serving in a variety of roles. 12 return from the record-breaking 2021 team, with seven additional midfielders joining the team from a loaded recruiting class. Northwestern transfer Taylor Pinzone rounds out the group tasked with patrolling the midfield.
Kaylon Buckner (St. Louis, MO)
Kaylon Buckner returns to Sun Devil Lacrosse for her senior season. Buckner has been a key player for the team. She brings her speed and her lacrosse IQ to help the team be successful. Buckner was the first player in the program to win the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week her freshman year and since then she's unstoppable. She is a key component to the draw circle, winning 33 draw controls last season. She also played in all 16 games last season, starting 14. During those 16 games, Buckner showed us what she could do and scored 15 goals and collected 16 assists.
Buckner has shown her strength on all sides of the field, from the moment she stepped on the field as a freshman. During her freshman season, she contributed to all sides of the game, collecting 24 ground balls and causing 13 turnovers while still scoring 16 goals and collecting 10 assists. Buckner was one of four freshmen who started at least 10 games.
Although her sophomore season was cut short, Buckner still made an impact on the field. Starting all eight games, Buckner scored 11 goals, finishing her season on scoring 73% of her shots. She also had a career high of 7 draw controls against No.3 Northwestern.
Maria Villanti (Honeoye Falls, NY)
Graduate student Maria Villanti returns for her 5th year, ready to challenge not only her teammates in practice but other teams as well. Villanti's hard work has shown throughout the years. As a junior, Villanti had played in all 44 games for the Sun Devils since it became a program in 2018. Villanti is critical in the midfield, not only is she strong on the circle, collecting 12 draw controls last season, but can also be a threat on attack being in the top ten for goals on the year. She uses her strength and lacrosse I.Q. on defense, creating 7 caused turnovers and collecting 12 ground balls last season.
Only being a freshman, Villanti started all 18 games and was named to the Pac-12 Lacrosse All-Tournament Team. She continued improving her skills and by the end of her sophomore year season, Villanti collected 20 ground balls, 6 draw controls, and 13 caused turnovers.
Taylor Pinzone (Waltham, MA)
Transfer Taylor Pinzone, comes to Tempe with 4 years of experience at Northwestern. As a freshman at Northwestern, she was awarded with the Big Ten Freshman of the Week after scoring three goals, earning an assist, and collecting 2 draw controls over Canisius. As a sophomore, she appeared in 11 games and scored in the game against No.7 Syracuse. In 2020, she appeared in 7 games for the Wildcats. She helped secure the win against Stanford by scoring 3 goals. Her last season as a Wildcat was eventful. She scored 9 goals throughout 16 games and earned 4 assists.
Lia Willis (Waldorf, MD)
Another returning key component to the midfield unit is graduate student, Lia Willis. Willis appeared in all 16 games last season, scoring her season high 2 goals against USC, California, and San Diego St. Lia's speed and aggressiveness helps move the ball quickly and efficiently. She is ranked fifth on the team in draw controls and ninth for points and goals. Her junior season was one of her best statistically. She had a career high of 26 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers. As a freshman, Willis played in 13 games and continued to work hard until the next season where she then played in all 18 games.
Maddy Hunter (Sammamish, WA)
Work horse, Maddy Hunter returns to Tempe ready to play. Ever since she was a freshman, Hunter worked hard. She led the team in draw controls with 53 during her freshman season. Despite an injury that cut her season short, Hunter worked hard to recover and came back her sophomore year and made an impact on the field. Despite only having eight games her junior season, Hunter played with purpose. She showed off her skills against San Diego State (2/20) by collecting a hat trick, a ground ball, and a caused turnover.
To make up for lost time during the 2020 season, Hunter worked harder than ever. She made an impact on all sides of the field starting with the draw, earning 24 draw controls. Hunter didn't stop there, she collected 27 ground balls during her senior season. She made herself a threat on attack, scoring 21 goals which allowed her to be ranked fourth on the team for goals. Not only can she score goals, she is also a double threat on attack dishing out assists, allowing her to be ranked eighth on the team for assists.
Kylie Kroeger (San Diego, CA)
Kylie Kroeger, another key component to the midfield unit, is returning to Tempe for her fifth season. Kroeger has made an impact during every season. Last season, Kroeger used her competitiveness on the draw circle to collect 20 draw controls allowing her to be ranked fourth on the team in draw controls. She is a threat all over the field, not only can she score but she's a strong defender. Kroeger is ranked third on the team for caused turnovers.
Despite only playing 8 games during the 2020 season, Kroeger set a career high during the season having 6 assists in 8 games. She made an impact in all 8 games, scoring a goal in three separate games and having a season high of 3 points during San Diego State, scoring one goal and dishing out 2 assists.
During her sophomore season, Kroeger was one of three Sun Devils that started and played in all 18 games. She had a major impact on the field, especially during the draw, collecting 33 draw controls which was the most on the team. When Kroeger arrived in Tempe as a freshman, she quickly proved herself, starting in all 18 games. She scored 11 goals and created a career high of 4 goals against California.
Morgan McCaffrey (Keller, TX)
Senior Morgan McCaffrey is returning to the Sun Devils. This past season, she played in 8 games while starting in 7. McCaffrey is a force to be reckoned with, earning 8 ground balls and collecting 5 caused turnovers. She works hard in practice every day, improving herself and helping her teammates improve as well.
McCaffrey's first year as a Sun Devil was stat filled. McCaffrey played in the first 7 games, earning a starting position for 6 of them before her season was cut short due to an injury. During the first game of her collegiate debut, McCaffrey collected 3 ground balls, 1 goal, and created 3 caused turnovers.
Olivia Hood (Vancouver, WA)
Olivia Hood returns for her senior season. Hood is a force and uses her competitive nature on the field. During the 2021 season, Hood collected 12 ground balls while creating 8 caused turnovers. She has a total of 21 caused turnovers in her career. She also scored a goal during the game against California(4/18).
When Hood stepped on the field her freshman season, she instantly made an impact. She played in 15 games and earned a starting position in 3 of those games. Despite spending most of her time on the defensive unit, Hood proved that she can be a threat on the attack side as well. Hood made her first career goal at an important time. She tied the game at 12 in the victory over Oregon late in the second half.
Even though the 2020 season was cut short due to COVID-19, Hood played like every game could've been her last. She played in all 8 games and set a career high with 9 draw controls.She dominated in the game against California (3/6) collecting 4 draw controls. She didn't stop there, she scored 2 goals and also created a caused turnover. Despite the season being cut in half, Hood set a career high with 4 goals and 4 points in only 8 games.
Paige McGlothlin (Charlottesville, VA)
Paige McGlothlin is returning for the Sun Devils. McGlothlin is ready for her senior season, she has been working harder and improving every day. During the 2021 season, she contributed by scoring a goal in the win against Fresno St. (2/27). During the short 2020 season, McGlothlin played in all 8 games and created an impact in every game. During the win against Detroit Mercy (2/14), she scored a goal, created a caused turnover, and collected a season high of 2 ground balls. McGlothlin came to Tempe as a freshman who was eager to get better every day. She played in all 18 games and finished her freshman season with 22 points, 26 draw controls, and 15 ground balls.
Tess Keiser (Orange County, CA )/ Brynn Holohan (Northbrook, IL)
Tess Keiser and Brynn Holohan return to Tempe for their junior season. The duo have made an impact on the field during their two seasons as Sun Devils. Keiser played in 15 games this past season and during those games she proved she was a threat to the defense. She scored 4 goals and earned 2 assists but has a total of 7 goals and 7 assists in her career. Keiser appeared in 7 games her freshman season and ended the season with 3 goals and 5 assists. Holohan appeared in 7 games this past season, scoring 2 goals. She earned a season high of 2 caused turnovers in the win against Fresno St. (2/27). She appeared in 2 games her freshman season and scored her first career goal in the win against Detroit Mercy (2/14).
Cate Duhig (Elmhurst, IL )/ Zoe Mazur (South Portland, ME)
Cate Duhig and Zoe Mazur are the last returners for the midfield unit. Duhig and Mazur are both draw specialists ready to take on the 2022 season. Duhig and Mazur both spend time after and before practice, working with each other and other draw takers to compete with each other and make each other better. Duhig appeared in her first game as a Sun Devil in the victory over Fresno St. (2/27). Mazur appeared in 6 games last season, earning 2 draw controls against Stanford. During her first season as a Sun Devil, she appeared in 6 games of the shortened 2020 season and collected 2 draw controls.
When asked who is taking the draw control for the Sun Devils this season, Coach McCormack stated "We have a great competition going on right now. I think every day someone new steps up which is a great thing to have."
Berit Brookfield (Littleton, CO) / Alexa Ford (Maple Ridge, B.C.) / Lexi Guerin (Minneapolis, MN)
Freshman Berit Brookfield, Alexa Ford, and Lexi Guerin are new to the midfield unit but have transitioned nicely and are ready to play Sun Devil lacrosse. Brookfield was a three sport athlete in high school and uses her athleticism on all aspects of the field. Ford comes to Tempe with experience in box lacrosse. This experience will help her be able to make quick decisions under pressure on the field. Guerin, another draw specialist for the Sun Devils, will help make an impact on the field with her skill and lacrosse I.Q..
Annie Haley (Park Ridge,IL) / Bella Ingrao (Gambrills, MD) / Helen Park (Edmond, OK) / Maddie Riley (Castle Pines, CO)
Annie Haley, Bella Ingrao, Helen Park, Maddie Riley are four other freshmen joining the midfield unit. They come to Tempe eager and willing to learn and get better. Haley's hard work and positive attitude has allowed her to make her presence known on the field. Ingrao, a left handed dominant player, is a part of the draw specialists. She has been a major factor in practice by working hard and helping her teammates get better. Park, who was a captain of the Korean National Team at the 2019 U19 Women's Lacrosse World Championship, has been a nice addition to the team. Her knowledge of the game and skills will make her a threat on the field. Riley, a versatile player, uses her skills to be effective during practice, making sure every repetition counts.