Lacrosse opens Big South slate Saturday vs. Winthrop

Megan Reilly, Sami Smit, Melissa Placek (ScarboroughPhotography.com)
Megan Reilly, Sami Smit, Melissa Placek (ScarboroughPhotography.com)

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BUIES CREEK, N.C. --- Campbell will open its seven-game Big South Conference slate against defending league champions Winthrop Saturday at Barker-Lane Stadium. The opening draw is set for 2 p.m.

Saturday's contest will be broadcast on the Big South Network with Evan Budrovich and Sal Mercogliano on the call. Live stats will be available at gocamels.com and live in-game updates will also be posted on the Camels' Twitter page, @GoCamelsWLAX. Admission to the game is free.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

LAST TIME OUT: 12th-ranked Virginia Tech jumped out to an 11-0 lead and cruised to the victory in Campbell's non-conference finale last week. Melissa Placek registered three points on two assists and a goal. However, the Camels couldn't contain the Hokies' high-powered offense as 10 VT players finished in the scoring column. Freshman Alex Salim made her first career appearance in goal and made six saves in 45 minutes of action.

ON THE OFFENSE: Campbell (3-6, 0-0 BSC) features a balanced attack from a variety of scoring options. 10 different players have found the back of the cage for the Camels this season in an offense that is averaging 9.78 goals per game. That's currently the fourth-highest tally in the Big South.

LEADING THE WAY: Kayla Reilly and Melissa Placek are the leaders the Camel offense. Reilly has cumulated a team-high 32 points on an even16 goals and 16 assists. She is averaging 1.78 assists per game, and that mark ranks second in the conference and 36th nationally. Placek has a team-high 18 goals and eight assists to go with a team-high 44 draw controls. That's an average of 4.89 draws per contests, which ranks 28th nationally.

A LITTLE DEFENSIVE: Campbell's scoring defense stands third in in the league, as opponents are averaging 14.33 goals per game. The Camels feature a veteran defensive unit headlined by Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the year Erin O'Hara and fifth-year senior April Reinhart. Megan Reilly has also started every game and Amanda Chasin has seen significant minutes. Allison Waldhauser has started the past two contests.

BETWEEN THE PIPES: All three Camel goalkeepers have now seen time in the cage this season. Merredith Bechler has started six games and owns a 0.387 save percentage, which ranks second in the Big South. Her 7.88 saves per game (58 total) stands third. Kylie Haarhoff made her first start of the season versus the Hokies and earned the win against La Salle.

EARLY IMPRESSIONS: Numerous members of the Camels' freshman class have already made significant impacts early in their careers. Tina Ricci ranks third on the team in points with 17 on 11 goals and six assists. Sam Carey has started all seven contests and ranks second on the team in draw controls with 28. Katie Matz scored the game-winning goal versus La Salle and scored twice versus Richmond while Maia Walters made her first career start versus the Explorers.

LIMITING MISCUES: CU is averaging the fewest turnovers in the league with just 15.89 miscues per game, which ranks 24th nationally.

CONTROLLING THE DRAW: Campbell is averaging 13.56 draw controls per contest. That tally ranks second in the Big South and 31st nationally.

HEAD COACH DAWN EASLEY: Campbell head coach Dawn Easley is in her fourth season in Buies Creek after leading the Camels to the most successful season in program history last year. She coached CU to its first postseason victory to advance to its first Big South semifinals. Easley has mentored 12 All-Big South honorees in three years at Campbell.

CAMELS PICKED THIRD: Campbell received its highest preseason billing in program history when the Big South coaches picked the Camels to finish third in the league standings. High Point was tabbed as the preseason favorites followed by defending champions Winthrop in second.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Winthrop has won all four of the previous meetings dating back to the Camels' inaugural season in 2013. The Eagles have outscored Campbell 68-33 in the contests and won last season's matchup 15-4.

SCOUTING THE EAGLES: Winthrop (3-7, 0-0 BSC) won three games in its tough non-conference slate, including a 12-goal victory over VCU. The Eagles average 9.50 goals per game (5th BSC) and give up just 13.20 goals per game (2nd BSC). WU also excels from the free position, as its 0.517 percentage tops the league. However, the Eagles have struggled from the draw as they average just 9.30 draws per game to rank seventh in the conference. Nicole Betson's 40 points (4.0 per game) and 29 goals (2.9 per game) lead the Big South.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Camels will wrap-up their five-game homestand on Wednesday when they host Presbyterian at 6:30 p.m.