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College Lax: 10 Players to Watch

Stanford, Ca – April 19, 2019: The Stanford Cardinal v University of California Golden Bears Women’s Lacrosse at Maloney Field at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium in Stanford, CA. Final score, Stanford Cardinal 17, University of California Golden Bears 6.

Spring is almost upon us, which means college lax is officially back. As the 2020 season gets underway, we’ve got a list of the ten players you should expect to see filling up the stat sheets, taking home some hardware, and leading their teams on deep tournament runs come May.

1. Jamie Ortega, University of North Carolina, Junior

Named the US Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Player of the Year, Ortega holds UNC’s single-season record with 81 goals. She was named MVP of the 2019 ACC tournament after putting up a school-record 12 points in the Tarheel’s championship victory. Known for making big plays in big moments, Ortega was also named to the 2019 All-NCAA Tournament Team after racking up five goals and two assists in the semifinal game. Our prediction: Ortega takes home this year’s Tewaaraton (Player of the Year Award) as she extends her reign as one of the greatest offensive threats in the country.

2. Kali Hartshorn, University of Maryland, Senior

Hartshorn has dominated the past few seasons as a draw control specialist and a goal scorer, recording at least 100 draws controls and 35 goals each season since her freshman year. She’s on track to surpass the draw control record of Maryland legend – and perhaps the greatest college lacrosse player ever – Taylor Cummings. After recording 137 draw controls and putting up an impressive 48 goals last year, Hartshorn will have a chance to beat Cummings’ single-season record for draw controls in Maryland history this year (144). Whether or not she hits that mark, expect her to still net her fair share of head-turning goals.

3. Charlotte North, Boston College, Junior

North is one of the best ball-handlers in the game right now (and here’s the proof). A recent transfer from Duke, she led the Blue Devils with 59 and 82 goals as a freshman and sophomore, respectively. Now she’ll have a chance to be BC’s main offensive threat, after the Eagles graduated most of their top scorers from last year. A walking highlight-reel, expect North to come out firing as she looks to find a rhythm with her new teammates.

4. Brindi Griffin, University of Maryland, Senior

In 2019, she led her team in assists and scored a hat-trick in the Terps’ 2019 National Championship win. Griffin’s playing style is similar to her sister Brooke’s, a former two-time All-American and National Champion at Maryland, as both excell at feeding and dodging to the goal. While she hasn’t yet been recognized as an All-American, don’t be surprised to see her end up on the first team this year as she establishes herself as the leader of Maryland’s offense while continuing to put up goals like this:

5. Katie Hoeg, University of North Carolina, Senior

Last season, Hoeg clocked 73 single-season assists, breaking her own single-season school record of 50 set the year prior. Named an IWLCA second-team All-American, Hoeg became the second Tarheel to ever record 104 points in a season, joining fellow attacker Jamie Ortega. After last year’s loss in the NCAA semifinals, you better believe Hoeg will be hungry for a title this year. If her and Ortega can continue to find each other, expect UNC’s offense to be just about unstoppable.

6. Ali Biacco, Stanford University, Junior

Biacco has almost single-handedly transformed the once-sluggish Stanford offense since arriving as a freshmen, turning the Cardinal attack into a well-oiled machine defined by quick execution and crisp transition play. Biacco won the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Award in 2018 before leading the Pac-12 with an astonishing 80 goals (and nine hat tricks) as a sophomore. Under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Megan Whittle, a three-time All American at Maryland, expect Biacco to push the tempo as she looks for creative ways to score against defenses committed to shutting her off.

7. Quinton Hoch-Bullen, University of Denver, Junior

Hailing from Canada, Hoch-Bullen is best known for her otherworldly stick skills. In 2019, she was named the Big East Attacker of the Year and ended the season with 59 goals. In an especially memorable performance, Hoch-Bullen netted a team-high five goals against Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, ultimately leading Denver to its first-ever NCAA Quarterfinal appearance. Expect her to repeat as Big East Attacker of the Year this year as she helps Denver reclaim the league championship after just falling short in double overtime last year.

8. Kerrigan Miller, University of Southern California, Senior

When all is said and done, Miller might go down as one of the best west coast lacrosse players of all time – and it’s not hard to see why. Last season, Kerrigan made waves as one of youngest players to play for the US National Team in the Spring Premiere. She then went on to lead the Pac-12 in caused turnovers (a whopping 41) while repeating as the league’s Midfielder of the Year. Expect her to both be a Tewaaraton finalist and claim her first All-American First Team award as she continues to captain USC’s offense.

9. Emma Trenchhard, University of North Carolina, Junior

The reigning ACC Defender of the Year, Trenchard will once again be one of the top defensive players in the game this year. In 2019, Trenchard recorded 24 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers while regularly shutting down the other team’s best player. After spending her off-season training with Team USA, expect Trenchard to anchor the best defense in the country alongside Kayla Wood and Catie Woodruff as the Tarheels look to secure their third NCAA title.

10. Sam Fish, Princeton University, Junior

A one-woman brick wall, Fish gained national attention last year in the 2019 Quarterfinals when she stopped a record nine goals against then No. 1 Boston College. With 192 saves and a .482 save percentage, she went on to win IVY League Goalie of the Year, solidifying her reputation as one of the best netminders in all of college. Look for her to be the backbone of a Princeton team that may just surprise a few people come tournament time.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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