St. Mary's Women's Lacrosse Predicted to Finish Fifth in CAC Preseason Poll

St. Mary's Women's Lacrosse Predicted to Finish Fifth in CAC Preseason Poll

For Immediate Release · By Nairem Moran · nmoran@smcm.edu

York, Pa. – The St. Mary's College of Maryland women's lacrosse team will begin the 2017 campaign nationally-ranked but have been picked to finish fifth among the conference coaches in this year's Capital Athletic Conference Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll.

2017 CAC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Article

2017 CAC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Webcast

2017 CAC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Salisbury (8 first-place votes)

64 points

2. Mary Washington (1 first-place vote)

54 points

3. Christopher Newport

45 points

4. York

44 points

5. St. Mary's

42 points

6. Marymount

30 points

7. Frostburg State

22 points

8. Wesley

15 points

9. Southern Virginia

8 points

With 14 consecutive CAC titles, it's no surprise that Salisbury University was once again selected as the unanimous favorite in the CAC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll.

Last season was a record-breaking year for CAC women's lacrosse, as four teams qualified for the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship Tournament for the first time in conference history. Joining conference-champion Salisbury in the NCAAs were St. Mary's, University of Mary Washington, and York College of Pennsylvania. The previous CAC record for NCAA participants was three, which occurred three times in 2001, 2003, and 2012.

Mary Washington advanced to the Sweet 16, while Salisbury made it to the Elite Eight for the 12th time in 13 years. It marked the second time in the previous three seasons that two CAC squads advanced to the Sweet 16.

All four NCAA participants from last season are ranked in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Preseason Top 20, with Salisbury leading the way at No. 5. York also cracked the top 10 at No. 10, followed by No. 16 Mary Washington and No. 18 St. Mary's. 

Overview
St. Mary's finished the 2016 campaign with a 16-4 (6-2 CAC) overall record and a national ranking of 15th in the final IWLCA poll. The Seahawks gained the program's eighth NCAA Tournament berth and the first since 2008, drawing a first-round bye and hosting The College of Brockport in the second round. In addition, St. Mary's, as the No. 2 seed, finished as the CAC Championship Tournament runner-up for the third time in program history.

Second-year head coach Erin McDonnell and the 2017 Seahawks are motivated to improve upon last year's successful campaign. This year's 20-woman roster will benefit from the leadership and drive of its five seniors - All-CAC performer Mackenzie Rayburn (Bel Air, Md./John Carroll), Meg Gesner (Severna Park, Md./Severn), Abbey Harrison (Easton, Md./Easton), Haley Sieglein (Baltimore, Md./Friends), and Erika Kopf (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis).

Attack
The Seahawks should feature one of the more potent offenses in the conference this season as they return five of their top-10 scorers from 2016. Gesner (31g, 16a) and Harrison (20g, 3a) will lead the charge after finishing third and fourth, respectively, in scoring last year.

Gesner, junior Gabby Beese (Towson, Md./Notre Dame Prep), and sophomore Ali Collie (Glen Arm, Md./Dulaney) will work together to keep the attack moving efficiently as the trio combined for 40 of the team's 109 assists last season. Beese put up 20 points (6g, 14a) in her sophomore year after sitting out her first year as a Seahawk while Collie chipped in 17 (7g, 10a) in her rookie campaign.

Junior Lacey Brown (Monkton, Md./Hereford) and sophomore Sydni Thacker (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) will be additional weapons in St. Mary's arsenal. 

Midfield
With the graduation of All-American Tori Poffenberger and four-time first team All-CAC selection Shelby Newman, the Seahawks will look to Kopf and junior captain Megan Cannon (Reisterstown, Md./Notre Dame Prep) to maintain the productivity in the midfield. Kopf finished her junior campaign tied for fourth in scoring with 23 points (13g, 10a) while Cannon was fifth with 19 goals.

Junior Kerri Kline (Hagerstown, Md./Saint James) and Cannon are expected to dominate the draw control this season after combining for a fourth of the team's 201 draws in 2016. Kline paced the team with 32 draw controls while Cannon added a fourth-best 18 draws.

Sophomore Caitlin Katchmar (Phoenix, Md./Hereford), who contributed nine points (7g, 2a) and seven draw controls last season, and first-years Kate Bartholomew (Galena, Md./Kent County), Jodi Credit (Cockeysville, Md./Roland Park Country), and Shannon Kirk (Finksburg, Md./Westminster) will provide solid depth in this critical area of the field. 

Defense
Senior leadership will be at the heart of the Seahawk defense as Rayburn and Sieglein will anchor a defensive unit which led the conference in caused turnovers (224) and ranked second in ground balls (400) behind the University of Mary Washington (410).

In addition to being named to the All-CAC team, Rayburn picked up her first all-region selection after ranking second for the Seahawks with 40 ground balls, 26 caused turnovers, and 25 draw controls. 

Goalkeepers
Sophomores Emma Brown (Warwick, N.Y./Warwick Valley) and Aubrey Davis-Lockart (Ocean City, Md./Salisbury) will compete for starting role in goal. Brown saw action in three games last season as the backup to All-CAC performer Kayla Dunn '16.

2017 Seahawk Women's Lacrosse Schedule

Schedule
This year's 17-contest schedule includes five teams receiving preseason recognition as well as six squads who competed in the 2016 NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship Tournament. Three programs – Gettysburg College, Salisbury, and York – are all ranked in the top 10 by both the IWLCA and the Nike/US Lacrosse polls.

St. Mary's kicks off the new campaign this Saturday, February 18 as the Seahawks travel down to Buena Vista, Virginia to take on Southern Virginia University for their season- and CAC-opener. First draw at 1:00 p.m.

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