The United Women's Lacrosse League season will begin this Saturday, as every team will be competing in the league's first action from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The first weekend will include two contests in a doubleheader format, with the Long Island Sound facing the Baltimore Ride in game one, and the Boston Storm taking on the Philadelphia Force in the second game.
“I could not be any more excited, and I cannot believe that we are just a few days away now,” said Ride head coach Jen Adams to the league's website about the league's first games. “This is something that I dreamed about as a player, but unfortunately it did not happen during my playing time. However, I'm still equally as excited to be a part of this now, and to be one of the first coaches with the opportunity to be involved.”
Since the league's initial draft, each team has added more talent through the UWLX draft camp. Baltimore added two goalkeepers with the additions of Frankie Caridi (Stony Brook) and Kerry Stoothoff (Loyola) as a part of five total additions.
This will be the first time these teams take the field together as a group, after the rosters were finally rounded out in early May. The league's first draft was in mid-April, and then UWLX held a draft camp.
“What we are really hoping for this season is great games,” said Boston coach Amy Patton to the league's website. “I want to see all of the players on all of the teams perform well. As coaches, we are excited to not only be coaching, but to also exchange ideas with one another. We will be developing ourselves professionally, which will only further enhance the game. This is such a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
Just like how Major League Lacrosse varies from the college men's game, UWLX will be different, with a shot clock, shootout, and changes to the reset rules.
However, the talent is truly what makes the league a commodity. Other than world championships and the Federation of International Lacrosse, this will be the first time that talent in the women's game will be brought together at this level.
Unlike the college game, the ages will vary at the pro level. There will be international stars, recent graduates, players who have moved on to coach at the college level, and players who have not played in a competitive league for years since graduation.
Players to Watch in Week One
Katie Schwarzman -- The first overall pick in the league's first draft, Schwarzman is expected to be a leader for Baltimore and lead the offense in the Ride's first game. She has two Tewaaraton trophies from her time with Maryland, and the midfielder has helped USA win the World Cup in 2013. A national champion and multiple time conference first team player, Schwarzman was the top pick for a reason; she is expected to be one of the true stars in the league's first season.
Devon Wills -- Wills, who had signed previously with the New York Lizards of Major League Lacrosse, will now tend the pipes of Long Island's newest professional team. A member of Team USA, Wills was not only a first-round draft pick but was also the first goalie selected in the league's history, and she will be one of the keys for success for the Sound.
Alyssa Murray -- Also a two-time Tewaaraton winner, Murray looks to be one of the top attackers in the league with the Force. Now an assistant coach with Michigan, she is also a member of the US National Team and has coached with Stony Brook. Murray finished eighth all time in NCAA scoring history, and should be one of the top scorers all season long for Philly.
Kara Cannizzaro -- The former Tar Heel was named the 2013 most outstanding player of the national tournament and won the Honda Award for best women's lacrosse player in the nation the same season. She scored 16 goals over the course of that tournament in her senior season, and now looks to be a top scorer with Boston.