Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/30/17
From Press Release
The Jacksonville Dolphins were voted the 2017 ASUN Women’s Lacrosse preseason favorites after receiving 111 total points in this year’s coaches poll. Detroit Mercy’s Kaitlyn Wandelt and Furman’s Samantha Eckels took home the ASUN Preseason Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors, announced by the league office on Friday afternoon.
Jacksonville, the regular season champions last season, received five first place votes and 111 total points to edge out 2016 ASUN Champions Old Dominion, who also garnered five first place votes and 104 total points. The Dolphins finished last year’s regular season 8-0, with the Monarchs going 7-1, but it was the Monarchs who defeated Detroit Mercy in the ASUN Championship Final to claim their first league title.
Furman was picked third with 84 points, narrowly beating out league newcomer Coastal Carolina who was picked fourth with 83 points. Detroit Mercy, who has advanced to every ASUN Championship final, comes in fifth place with 82 points.
Mercer claimed the sixth spot in the preseason coaches’ poll, with Kennesaw State and Central Michigan finishing in seventh and eighth, respectively. The Owls will be under new leadership this year as Laura Maness takes over the program, while Central Michigan earned the final first place vote in the poll. Rounding out the 2017 preseason coaches’ poll are Stetson, league newcomers Delaware State and Howard.
Wandelt was voted the ASUN Preseason Player of the Year after bursting on to the scene last season. In her freshman campaign, the Sayville, N.Y. native scored 64 goals, added 11 assists to finish the season with 75 points. She was the ASUN Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Conference last season and looks to continue that form this year. She led all NCAA Division I freshmen in goals (64), points (75), goals per game (3.20) and points per game (3.75).
Eckels has been a mainstay for the Furman defense since entering the ASUN. She played in all 16 games last season and was a First Team All-Conference selection for the Paladins. She finished the 2016 season with 35 ground balls, 22 caused turnovers and 73 draw controls as the Paladins recorded back-to-back 10-win seasons in the first two years of the program.
Read more on the ASUN Preseason All-Conference team as voted on by the league coaches.
ASUN Preseason All-Conference Team
– Haleigh Wurzel (Downingtown West), Mercer, Goalie: Wurzel started all 18 games in cage for Mercer and led the ASUN and the nation in total saves with 207. The Chester Springs, Pa. native also led the conference with a .521 save percentage in 2016.
– Samantha Eckels, Furman, Defense: Eckels garners her second consecutive ASUN Preseason All-Conference selection and was voted Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the first time. She was a dominant defender for the Paladins with 35 ground ball pickups and 22 caused turnovers.
– Erika Brager, Jacksonville, Defense: Brager started all 18 games last season for the Dolphins and earned Second Team All-Conference honors. She picked up 33 ground balls and ranked sixth in the ASUN with 25 caused turnovers. Brager added 28 draw controls as well for the Dolphins in 2016.
– Kristin Ridenour, Jacksonville, Defense: The senior from Alpharetta, Ga. has been a mainstay in the Jacksonville defense for the past couple of seasons. She started all 18 games last year and was one of only five ASUN players to have at least 30 ground balls, 20 caused turnovers and 20 draw controls in 2016.
– Kaitlyn Wandelt, Detroit Mercy, Midfield: The 2017 ASUN Preseason Player of the Year was a dominant attacking force in the league last year. In conference play, Wandelt ranked first in the ASUN with 33 goals. She broke the Detroit Mercy school record for draw controls with 73, which was the most of any ASUN player last season.
– Devon Horine, Furman, Midfield: A 2016 First Team All-Conference selection, Horine ranked third on the Furman team with 28 goals scored. She finished the season with 30 total points and added 38 draw controls and 31 ground balls. All her goals and points game in the first 14 games of the season.
– Ashtyn Hiron, Jacksonville, Midfield: The 2016 ASUN Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference selection returns to lead the Dolphin midfield. She scored 29 goals offensively, while also causing a league-high 33 turnovers last season. She finished the year with a team-high 40 ground balls.
– Lindsey Zeltwanger, Mercer, Midfield: Zeltwanger earns her first ASUN Preseason All-Conference selection after leading the Mercer Bears in goals scored (33), assists (28) and total points (61). She added 37 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers on the defensive side as well for the Bears, who made their first trip to the ASUN Championship last postseason.
– Connor Carson, Old Dominion, Midfield: Carson is a two-time First Team All-Conference selection and scored 25 goals for the ASUN Champions last season. The middie broke Old Dominion’s single-season record for draw controls with 70 last season. She scored twice in the ASUN Championship Final and garnered All-Tournament team selection as well.
– Lexie Kinmond, Detroit, Attack: Kinmond, a unanimous selection to the 2016 ASUN All-Freshmen team, scored 41 goals for the Titans last season. She added 23 assists for 64 total points, which ranked second only behind Kaitlyn Wandelt. Her 23 assists led the Titans and ranked fifth overall in the ASUN last season.
– Paige Gamble, Furman, Attack: For the second time in her career, Gamble earns ASUN Preseason All-Conference recognition. The senior from Easton, Md. scores 32 goals and added 30 assists for 62 total points. Gamble was the only 30-30 player in the conference last season and earned First Team All-Conference honors in 2016.
– Danielle Della Rocca, Jacksonville, Attack: Della Rocca started all 18 games for the Dolphins last season and was the team’s scoring leader with 47 goals. She added 21 assists to finish with 68 total points. Della Rocca is a two-time First Team All-Conference selection and enters her senior season with 126 career goals.
For the fifth-straight year, the ASUN took to social media to poll the fans for the conference preseason superlative awards. A total of 3,135 votes were cast on Facebook. With 465 total votes, Central Michigan’s Jocelyne Lemay was voted Fan-Voted Player of the Year, while Detroit Mercy’s Lauren Webley garnered 259 votes to take home the Fan-Voted Defensive Player of the Year honor.