NE LACROSSE JOURNAL: "Anchor Woman: Behind defensive standout Cara Corvino, Stonehill hopes to return to winning ways"

Corvino is coming off an All-Amerca season for the Skyhawks as a junior. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

By Marisa Ingemi

The Skyhawks of Stonehill finished last season at 9-9, the team's worst record in more than a decade.

Still, heading into 2017, five Northeast-10 teams are ranked in the national preseason poll, and Stonehill is one of them. And one reason for that is its defensive constant, Cara Corvino.

"We never show up to a game thinking we don't have a chance to win," Stonehill coach Katie Conover said. "Not only do we play in a tough conference, but we also see a very, very competitive out-of-conference schedule. It comes with the territory, and we're perfectly fine with that."

The Skyhawks bring back senior Elizabeth Vetter as the team's leading returning scorer, along with double-digit goal scorer Shannon Booth and potential breakout player Taylor Shannahan.

Despite plenty of roster turnover, with the Skyhawks losing their top two scorers, they have a rock in the back in Corvino (Dorset, Vt.). Named a preseason All-American, the senior was an All-Conference player last season and helped the team cause 132 turnovers.

With a young roster, the steady presence of Corvino on defense leaves the Skyhawks confident.

Isner is also a key member of the Skyahawks defense, serving as co-captain with Corvino. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

For Corvino herself, her focus is on the team.

"It's such an honor to be an All-American, but it keeps me working harder for the team," she said. "It's great, but in my opinion it's about the team, and at the end of the day if we're working hard as a team, then I'm happy."

The Skyhawks return a defense that ranked fifth in the conference in 2016, with Kelly Healey (Westwood, Mass.) and Erika Isner (Farmington, Conn.) playing with Corvino. Healey is the only one of that group to contribute on the offense, with 10 goals last season.

"It's awesome playing with her," Corvino said of Healey. "She's so disciplined and she keeps me working harder. We play really well together. We have a really awesome dynamic, and she's a great player to be on the field with. She changes the game for us."

Even with a strong defensive group around her, Corvino remains the leader.

"She has an unbelieveable intensity where she's extremely loud and aggressive, but with that comes a very, very fundamentally sound defender," Conover said. "She very rarely makes mistakes, she's incredibly self confident, and she just takes up a lot of space and a lot of room.

"She's the fastest defender we have, she's the most aggressive and the loudest, so those are some pretty important qualities for a strong defender.

Kelly Healey gives the Skyhawks a pair of All-America defenders. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Corvino and her defensive unit play in front of Bailey Herr, who saw significant time last season. Playing in front of two strong goalies who see a lot of shots, and a group overall that struggled at times with clears, that defensive group does what they can to create plays on their side of the field.

"It's such a game-changer to get caused turnovers," Corvino said. "It's huge because it gives the attack the energy they need to do their job. Especially our defense, an already aggressive defense. That's our goal, caused turnovers, groundballs, and up the field to attack."

With the pieces in place to make a run for the top of the league, Stonehill still has a tough stretch of games to start the season with two road contests to open the year and just three home games in all of March.

"This is a competitive conference, so it is by no means easy," Corvino said. "Every game is competition, you don't have an off game. It's difficult, but I'm so lucky and so blessed to be a part of this team."

After facing a difficult stretch of games last season as well, there's no intimidation factor for Stonehill.

(Marisa Ingemi can also be heard on the call of a handful of Stonehill women's lacrosse SkyhawksVision webcasts this spring at and Facebook Live)