Feb. 3, 2010
Center Valley, Pa. - Based on the strength of 13 returning letterwinners and four starters, Colgate has been voted to defend its Patriot League Championship by sports information directors and head coaches around the League. Lehigh junior Lauren Dykstra was voted as the League's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while junior Caitlin Mandrin Hill of Navy earned the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year nod.
The Raiders received 66 points and seven first-place votes in the poll. Colgate set a program record with 14 wins last season, finished 5-1 in Patriot League play and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Raiders also boast the 2009 Coach of the Year Heather Young, who looks to lead the team to its third consecutive League title. The last team to accomplish that feat was Lafayette from 2000-2002. Overall, the Raiders are also a young squad, featuring 10 freshmen and six sophomores accompanying five juniors and two seniors.
Lehigh and Navy tied for second with 59 points, with the Mountain Hawks receiving four first-place votes and the Mids capturing three. Lehigh, who finished 11-6 overall and 4-2 in the Patriot League last year, featured the League's top offense in 2009, averaging 13.18 goals per game. A big reason for that was Dykstra, who led the League in goals (67) and goals per game (3.94) last season. In addition to the defensive prowess of Mandrin Hill (34 caused turnovers, 1.89 turnovers per game), the Mids (13-5 overall, 4-2 in the Patriot League last season) also return offensive weapons of their own. Senior attacker/midfielder and two-time First Team All-Patriot League honoree Erin Rawlick led the League in assists (37), assists per game (2.06), points (92) and points per game (5.11) last season.
Bucknell finished fourth in the preseason voting with 40 points. Head coach Caline McHenry enters her third season at the helm in Lewisburg looking to improve on last season's 9-9 overall mark and 4-2 record in the League. Senior Carol Donohue was the Bison's second-leading scorer last season with 37 goals, and she tied for the team lead with 54 points. Her 68 career assists are second all-time at Bucknell.
Holy Cross came in fifth in the balloting with 30 points. The Crusaders finished 5-11 overall and 3-3 in League play, and head coach Stephanie Ridolfi hopes for another strong campaign from senior attacker Katie Gardner, who was second in the League in assists per game (1.56) while tying for third in helpers (25). Junior Amy Martin also brings her League-leading 10.20 saves per game back to Worcester. 2010 marks the first year for the new Holy Cross Multi-Sport Field, a state-of-the-art synthetic turf facility specifically designed for lacrosse and football.
American (28 points) and Lafayette (12) round out the 2010 preseason poll. The Eagles are buoyed by 19 returning letterwinners, six starters and two All-Patriot League selections from last season, Alyssa Romano and Amanda Makoid. The team also welcomes an influx of youth with eight freshmen. The Leopards look to improve on last year's 2-15 season, and they have talent returning. Junior Lauren Brown led the team last year with 28 points and tied for the team lead in goals with 20.
The top four teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will play in the Patriot League Tournament on Friday, April 30 and Sunday, May 2 at the site of the highest seed. This year, the Patriot League Champion will host the winner of the Northeast Conference in an NCAA Play-In game.
The 2010 season opens with Navy hosting Howard on Saturday in Annapolis, Md. at 12:00 p.m.
2010 Patriot League Preseason Poll
1. Colgate - 66 points (7 first-place votes)
2. Lehigh - 59 points (4)
Navy - 59 points (3)
4. Bucknell - 40 points
5. Holy Cross - 30 points
6. American - 28 points
7. Lafayette - 12 points
PL Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Lauren Dykstra, Lehigh
PL Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Caitlin Mandrin Hill, Navy