Denison emerged as the favorite in the 2017 North Coast Athletic Conference women’s lacrosse preseason poll, based on balloting from the league coaches.
The Big Red, who captured the program’s third-straight NCAC Tournament title and 11th overall last year by defeating Wittenberg in the championship game, earned eight of nine available first-place votes for 80 points. Kenyon, which posted its first 10 win season since 2013 and finished with a 4-4 conference record in 2016, was selected to finish second after totaling 61 points. Wittenberg, which advanced to the NCAC Tournament championship game for the second time since 2014 and finished 2016 with double-digit wins for the fifth-straight season, was selected to finished third in the poll after garnering the final first-place vote and 59 points. Oberlin, which finished 2016 with double-digit wins for the second-straight season, was selected to finish fourth after earning 52 total points, followed by Allegheny (47), Wooster (45), DePauw (28), Ohio Wesleyan (24) and Hiram (9).
The Denison offense returns three of its top-five leading point producers from a year ago, led by senior Claire Ludlow (Saugatuck, MI/East Grand Rapids). Ludlow, a three-time, All-NCAC performer, including a first-team selection a season ago, recorded 59 total points (39g, 20a) in 2016. Juniors Leah Israel (Bloomfield Hills, MI/Cranbrook Kingswood) (25g, 14a) and Claudia Rafi (Mason, OH/Ursuline Academy) (28g, 8a) join Ludlow as key returners this year after combining for 135 total points. In all, the Big Red returns 238 of the team’s 368 total points from last season, including 161 goals. Sophomore Jane Goodspeed (East Grand Rapids, MI/East Grand Rapids), the 2016 NCAC Newcomer of the Year, returns to lead the defensive unit after leading the Big Red with 44 ground balls and 26 caused turnovers in 2016. Head coach Amanda Daniels returns to the sidelines for her fourth season to lead the Big Red this spring. Daniels’ first three years at Denison have resulted in three-straight NCAC Tournament championships, the program’s 18th conference championship, three NCAA Division III Tournament appearances and an overall record of 37-18.
Denison leads all NCAC squads with 18 conference championships in 32 seasons (1985-1994, ‘96 ,1999-‘01, ’06, 2011-12 and 2016). Wooster has collected six conference titles (2002-04, ‘07, 2009-10), while Oberlin has earned three (1995, 1997-98), Ohio Wesleyan (2005 and ‘08) and Wittenberg (2014-15) each have garnered two and Kenyon (2013) owns one league crown.
Founded in 1983, the North Coast Athletic Conference is made up of ten academically selective colleges and universities - Allegheny College, Denison University, DePauw 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