The DePauw University Tigers narrowly edged the Denison University Big Red for the top spot in the 2017 NCAC Preseason Field Hockey Poll based on balloting by the league coaches.
DePauw, which won its fourth NCAC Field Hockey title last year, collected four first-place votes and 57 total points in the poll, while DU finished second in the poll after earning one first-place vote and 55 total points. 2016 NCAC Tournament Champion, the Kenyon College Ladies checked in at third with 46 points after collecting the final three first-place votes. Ohio Wesleyan and Wittenberg tied for fourth in the poll to round out the top-five with 34 total points followed by Wooster (27), Earlham (19) and Oberlin (16).
The DePauw Tigers, who will be under the leadership of head coach Erika Burcher for the third year in a row, are seeking their fifth NCAC title in seven years since joining the league in 2011. In two years at the helm, Burcher owns an overall record of 32-9, which includes a mark of 25-3 in regular season conference games and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2015. The Tigers return four all-conference performers from 2016, including NCAC Offensive Player of the Year in senior Paige Berliner (New Albany, OH/Columbus Acad.) and the NCAC Newcomer of the Year, sophomore Kate Milner (St. Louis, MO/John Burroughs School). Offensively, the Tigers return their top three point scorers from a season ago that led the NCAC in goals (82) and assists (55). Berliner and Milner along with senior Reilly Bruce (Chicago, IL/Francis Parker) combined for 33 goals and 22 assists for 88 total points in 2016. In all, DePauw returns 74 of its league leading 82 goals from a year ago and 192 of 219 points. Defensively, junior Sarah Foye (Goshen, KY/North Oldham) returns in the cage for the Tigers after boasting a 1.18 goals-against-average, .700 save percentage, 35 saves and three shutouts a season ago.
The 2017 NCAC field hockey season kicks off with non-conference games on Friday, September 1st, while the first league games of the season are scheduled for Tuesday, September 5th. The 2017 NCAC Field Hockey Tournament will be held in early November with semifinal games on Wednesday the 1st and the championship game on Saturday the 4th.
Founded in 1983, the North Coast Athletic Conference is made up of ten academically selective colleges and universities - Allegheny College, DePauw University, Denison University, Hiram College, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wabash College, Wittenberg University and the College of Wooster, along with affiliate member, Earlham College (field hockey). The NCAC sponsors 23 championship sports, 11 for men and 12 for women.
2017 North Coast Athletic Conference Field Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll