Jan. 30, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - - Loyola University Maryland will play its first season in Patriot League women's lacrosse as a prohibitive favorite after overtaking four-time defending champion Navy in the sport's preseason poll announced on Thursday.
The Greyhounds captured 15 of a possible 16 first-place votes and 127 points overall to earn the top spot, with the Mids second with 113 points and three first-place votes. Loyola's fellow newcomer, Boston University, took third with 94 points followed by Holy Cross (76), American (72), Lafayette (61), Colgate (47), Lehigh (38) and Bucknell (20).
Loyola also dominated the Preseason All-Patriot League Team with five selections, including senior midfielder Marlee Paton as the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Junior attackers Hannah Schmitt and Annie Thomas, junior midfielder Taryn VanThof and sophomore defender Maddy Lesher joined Paton on the Preseason All-League squad for the Greyhounds.
Navy had a pair of juniors make the Preseason All-Patriot League squad in attacker Loren Generi and goalkeeper Annie Foky, who also was named the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Lafayette was the only other team with multiple honorees as senior midfielder Ana White and senior defender Rachel Martin made the team, while the rest of the squad consisted of American senior midfielder Emily Maher, Holy Cross senior defender Corinne Caracausa and Colgate junior defender Jenna Frost.
Each of the 12 student-athletes earned a postseason honor last season, with Generi, Maher, White, Frost and Foky as first-team All-Patriot League selections while Caracausa and Martin made the second team. Paton and VanThof earned first-team honors in the BIG EAST with Thomas, Schmitt and Lesher on the second team.
The voting for both the preseason poll and All-Patriot League Team was conducted by women's lacrosse head coaches and sports information directors, who were not permitted to vote for their own team or student-athletes.
Loyola has a long line of success that includes 10 conference tournament titles and 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, including trips in each of the last three years under sixth-year Head Coach Jen Adams. Paton was the team's leading scorer last season with 39 goals and 25 assists, and the top four scorers from 2013 are all back with Thomas (26 G, 27 A), VanThof (28 G, 18A) and Schmitt (33 G, 6 A). Paton and VanThof went on to earn IWLCA All-America honors in addition to their conference accolades. Lesher leads the defense, while Molly Wolf returns in goal after putting up a 10.18 goals against average while starting all 20 games last year. Loyola advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year and finished with an 11-9 record.
Navy will not be willing to give up its crown easily, as the Mids won their fourth-straight Patriot League title and also earned the first NCAA Tournament win for a League squad last season. Navy faces the task of replacing three-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Jasmine DePompeo, who graduated as the League's all-time leader in points (336) and assists (167). DePompeo is one of three All-League selections to depart from last year, but a pair of first-teamers are back in Generi (62 G, 13 A) and Foky (7.13 GAA), who was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. Aimee Gennaro (64 G, 16 A) joins Generi on attack and is already 10th in League history with 169 career goals. The Mids have won 18 straight games against Patriot League opponents, a streak that began in the 2011 League Tournament.
Boston University has nine conference titles and eight NCAA Tournament appearances to its credit, all coming since 2000. The Terriers went to the NCAA tourney in consecutive years from 2005-10, but come off a rare losing season at 6-10 last year and have to replace their top two goal scorers in Danielle Etrasco and Kristen Mogavero. BU will try to replace them with a young nucleus that includes sophomores Jill Horka (10 G), Sofia Robins (15 G, 2 A) and Mallory Collins, who returns to the field after being named the America East Rookie of the Year in 2012 when she had 46 goals and nine assists.
Holy Cross has advanced to the last two Patriot League title games, and will try to take the final step and win a title behind the senior leadership of Caracausa and Sara Hennessey (35 G, 6 A), who was a second-team All-Patriot League pick last year. Laura Ryan (36 G, 7 A) returns in the midfield after also earning second-team All-League status in 2013.
American finished 5-1 in the Patriot League in 2013, with only an 11-10 double overtime loss to Navy on the final day of the regular season keeping the Eagles from winning the regular-season title. Maher returns in the midfield after earning first-team All-Patriot League honors a year ago (29 G, 10), while Alex Lugovina (39 G, 5 A) is the team's top returning scorer at attack.
Lafayette advanced to the Patriot League Tournament last year for the first time since 2004, and almost pulled a semifinal upset before falling to Navy 9-8. The Leopards will be led by White (46 G, 22 A), who holds the Patriot League career record with 297 draw controls and was the Midfield Player of the Year in addition to a first-team All-League pick last year. She is one of three All-League players back for Lafayette, as Laura Kleiber (36 G, 7 A) also made the first team and Martin earned a spot on the second team.
After missing the Patriot League Tournament for the first time last season, Colgate will try to get back to the postseason behind a strong defensive nucleus led by Frost and goalkeeper Jennie Berglin (10.68 GAA). Alison Flood (30 G, 1 A) enters her senior season after earning second-team All-League honors in the midfield last year, though the Raiders do lose top scorers Kate Sheridan and Amanda O'Sullivan.
Lehigh has missed out on the last two League tourneys, but has a very capable goal scorer back in junior Carli Sukonik (25 G, 3 A), a second-team All-Patriot League pick on attack last year. Junior Lauren Willcox made the second-team All-League defense, while Alexandra Fitzpatrick returns for her senior season in goal.
Bucknell will be led again by second-team All-Patriot League selection Katelyn Miller (39 G, 13 A) after earning its first Patriot League win since 2009 last season and matching its best overall record since the same campaign.
Navy and American will be the first Patriot League teams to see action as they start the season on Feb. 8, with the rest of the League squads opening the following week. The Patriot League schedule increases to eight games for each team with the two new members, and gets started on March 8. The Patriot League Tournament features six teams and will include a quarterfinal round at host sites on April 22 before the semifinals and championship are hosted by the top seed in the tournament on April 25 and 27.
Patriot League Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
1. Loyola (15 first-place votes), 127 points
2. Navy (3), 113
3. Boston University, 94
4. Holy Cross, 76
5. American, 72
6. Lafayette, 61
7. Colgate, 47
8. Lehigh, 38
9. Bucknell, 20
Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Marlee Paton, Loyola (Sr., M)
Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Annie Foky, Navy (Jr., GK)
Women's Lacrosse Preseason All-Patriot League Team
Loren Generi, Navy (Jr., A)
Hannah Schmitt, Loyola (Jr., A)
Annie Thomas, Loyola (Jr., A)
Emily Maher, American (Sr., M)
Marlee Paton, Loyola (Sr., M)
Taryn VanThof, Loyola (Jr., M)
Ana White, Lafayette (Sr., M)
Corinne Caracausa, Holy Cross (Sr., D)
Jenna Frost, Colgate (Jr., D)
Maddy Lesher, Loyola (So., D)
Rachel Martin, Lafayette (Sr., D)
Annie Foky, Navy (Jr., GK)