ANNAPOLIS, MD – Women’s sports history will be made this summer in Annapolis when the Baltimore Pride take on the Philadelphia Fire in a special doubleheader that showcases both men’s and women’s professional lacrosse.
The Chesapeake Bayhawks are proud to announce they will host the inaugural game of the new Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL) with the hometown Baltimore Brave battling the Philadelphia Fire.
That contest will be the first offering of a unique doubleheader with the Chesapeake Bayhawks hosting the defending Major League Lacrosse champion Ohio Machine in the nightcap at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“There are lots of young girls who attend MLL games with their families,” WPLL founder Michele DeJuliis said. “Our hope in partnering with the Bayhawks is to bring the world of women’s professional lacrosse directly to the large contingent of female fans, showing them that they too can play professionally one day. This game also gives our players an opportunity to play the game they love on the big stage.”
DeJuliis, a Baltimore-area native, is a legendary figure in lacrosse circles dating back to her days as a prolific scorer at Loch Raven High. She was the 1992 Baltimore Sun Metro Player of the Year and became a three-time All-American at Penn State University.
DeJuliis, who served as a Baltimore City police officer for six years, helped lead the United States national team to the gold medal at the 2009 Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.
She was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2013 and founded the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League last June and announced it will launch in summer 2018 with five franchises. It will include a developmental program to groom future professional players.
“The game just continues to get better and better. The athletes are bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled. The pace of the games that we watch today is incredible. The WPLL will continue to push the boundaries and innovate the way the game is played,” DeJuliis said in announcing the new league.
“Providing an opportunity for players to freely showcase their expert talent while also connecting them with our future generation of players in a meaningful way, on and off the field, is the very foundation of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League,” DeJuliis added.
In addition to the Baltimore and Philadelphia franchises, the WPLL will also include the New England Command, New York Fight and Upstate Pride. Baltimore will be led by Head Coach Sonia Lamonica, who holds the same title with the Towson University women’s lacrosse program. The Brave’s 16-player roster features numerous players with local ties, including five former University of Maryland standouts.
A trio of Anne Arundel County natives will have a homecoming as part of the inaugural game on June 2nd at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Standout attackers Brooke Griffin (South River High, Maryland) and Kari Ellen Johnson (Broadneck High, Maryland) as well as highly-decorated goalkeeper Kelsea Donnelly (South River High, Towson University) will all suit up for the Brave.
Attacker Dana Dobbie, a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, is another of the more recognizable names on the Baltimore roster. Philadelphia, which is being led by Georgetown head coach Ricky Fried, also features a slew of former collegiate All-Americans from the greater Baltimore area such as Maddy Lesher (Loyola-Maryland), Katie Schwarzmann (Century High, Maryland), Lauren Lea (Archbishop Spalding, Florida) and Haley Schweizer (Johns Hopkins).
“The Bayhawks are excited for the WPLL as a league and are honored to host the kickoff game between the Baltimore Brave and the Philadelphia Fire. The Bayhawks have always felt it was our obligation and commitment to grow the great game of lacrosse for all willing participants,” Chesapeake president Mark Burdett said.
“Hosting the women here in Annapolis speaks directly to our objective of providing a great family game day experience and an opportunity to showcase this new and exciting Women’s Professional Lacrosse League. We anticipate a number of girls’ youth club and recreation teams joining us for the full experience of this unique professional double header,” Burdett added.
A full WPLL schedule for the 2018 season will be announced later this month. The 13-game schedule will include 10 regular season games, two semi-final games, and a championship game. Each team will play at least one game in their home market.
The Bayhawks home opener will be held Saturday, April 21st, when the team faces off against the Dallas Rattlers at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. For season ticket information, visit thebayhawks.com, call 866-99-HAWKS, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.