Erica Mulford will return to the York College women’s lacrosse team this season after earning first-team All-Capital Athletic Conference honors last
Erica Mulford will return to the York College women's lacrosse team this season after earning first-team All-Capital Athletic Conference honors last season. Bil Bowden photo

The York College women's lacrosse team opens 2014 coming off the most successful two-year stretch in the history of the program.

The Spartans have won 28 games in the last two years with a pair of NCAA Division III Tournament berths, including a Sweet 16 appearance last spring.

Head coach Jen Muston believes this year's team can continue that momentum.

Muston will turn to a pair of veteran leaders in seniors Erica Mulford and Ashley Smith. Mulford finished her junior season with 59 points on 47 goals and 12 assists. Mulford earned first team All-Capital Athletic Conference honors and was also an All-Metro Region selection.

"Erica had a great year last year," Muston said. "She is a player who can create for herself or her teammates and really has a nose for the goal. Erica has been a large part of our success and I expect her to be a great leader on and off the field this year."

Smith took over the Spartans' starting goalie job early last year and flourished in net. Smith boasted a 7.78 goals-against average and a .482 save percentage. She was 13-4 for the year. Smith earned second team All-CAC honors and also earned a spot on the All-Metro Region squad.

"Ashley really stepped up last year," Muston said. "Ashley is a great leader for our defense. She is athletic and gives us a great presence in net."

The Spartan midfield will be anchored by junior Sarah Castle, who finished her sophomore year with 26 points on 25 goals and one assist. She also had 16 ground balls, 38 draw controls, and 13 caused turnovers.

The defense is led by senior All-CAC selection Jess Soroka, who scooped up 22 ground balls, captured six draw controls and forced seven turnovers as a junior.

Muston is excited about the possibilities for this year's edition of the Spartans.

"This is a team who is very eager to learn and the talent gives us great flexibility in what we can do on the field," Muston said. "I am really excited to see what we can accomplish this year."

The Spartans' schedule is a tough one. The Spartans are ranked 11th in NCAA Division III to start the season. They will face five other teams ranked in the preseason poll. Conference foe Salisbury is the preseason No. 1, while CAC newcomer Christopher Newport is ranked 16th. Non-conference opponents Franklin & Marshall (No. 5), Gettysburg (No. 6) and Ithaca (No. 18) are also ranked.

York is picked to finish second in the CAC according to the league's preseason coaches poll.

"I put together a tough schedule and I believe we are up to the task," Muston said. "This schedule will help prepare us for a trip to the postseason."

The Spartans open the season on Wednesday afternoon when they travel to Lebanon Valley for a 3:45 p.m. non-conference contest. The Spartans open their conference schedule against Salisbury on March 15 at Kinsley Field.