Full Preseason All-Conference Team and Polls
MACON, Ga. - The three-time defending champions Jacksonville enter the 2016 Atlantic Sun Women's Lacrosse season as the preseason favorite to repeat once again after receiving 80 total points in the coaches poll. Attacker Danielle Della Rocca was voted Preseason Player of the Year, while teammate Erika Brager took home the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honor, announced by the league office on Friday afternoon.
The Dolphins have been the dominating team winning both regular season and conference tournament titles in every year since the A-Sun began play. They earned eight of the league's nine first place votes in the coaches poll. Jacksonville finished last year 17-3 overall and 7-0 in conference play. The Dolphins advanced to the NCAA Tournament and look to advance past the opening round this season.
Old Dominion was picked second by the A-Sun coaches with 69 total points and one first-place vote. The Monarchs were the second-highest scoring offense last season, and hope to build on that success in their second year in the league. Top-scorer Ashmore Standing returns to lead the attack.
Last year's Championship runner-up Detroit was selected to finish third in the A-Sun this year. The Titans have been runners-up in each of the first three seasons, but hope to take the next step this season and dethrone the Dolphins in 2016. Detroit will have to replace veteran goalie Lexie McCormick, but returns top-scorer Kylie Birney on offense.
Furman was picked to finish in fourth place, following a successful first season last year. The Paladins won 10 games in their first year as a Division I program and hope to build on that success this year. Stetson comes in fifth, while Kennesaw State and Mercer were picked sixth and seventh, respectively. League newcomer Central Michigan was picked to finish in eighth, with Howard rounding out the selections in ninth place.
Della Rocca was voted Preseason Player of the Year after earning first team All-Conference honors last season. She was the A-Sun's top goalscorer with 55 goals and added 27 assists to tally 82 total points, most in the league. Brager earned the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honor after playing and starting in all 20 games last season. The junior defender had 47 ground balls and forced 18 turnovers, while playing on the league's best defense that allowed only 4.14 goals against in conference play.
Read more on the Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference team as voted on by the league coaches.
Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference Team (* - Denotes unanimous selection)
- Maggie Buckley, Old Dominion, Goalie: Buckley returns after playing in 13 games for Old Dominion last season. The junior from Owings, Md. posted a 7.62 goals against average and totaled 64 saves last season.
- Whitney Meyers, Stetson, Goalie: A Second Team All-Conference selection in 2015, Meyers returns in goal for the Hatters this season. She appeared in all 17 games and set a program record with 11.61 goals against average. Set school record with 25 saves in game against Jacksonville last season.
- Samantha Eckels, Furman, Defense: Eckels returns after being on the A-Sun All-Freshman team and First Team All-Conference in 2015. Started 17 games for the Paladins and collected 37 ground balls, while causing 14 turnovers.
- Sam Bauer, Jacksonville, Defense: The senior from Cambridge, Md. returns after seeing action in 18 games last season. She recorded 28 ground balls, 22 caused turnovers and had 20 draw controls for the Dolphins. Part of the league's best defense in 2015 season.
- Erika Brager, Jacksonville, Defense: Brager, the Preseason Player of the Year, added eight draw controls to her 47 ground balls, which ranked second on the team last season. She also chipped in on offense with two assists.
- Laura Jordan, Kennesaw State, Defense: The sophomore defender from Marietta, Ga. started 17 of 18 games during her freshman campaign. She led the Owls with 42 ground balls and 28 caused turneovers in 2015. She caused 2.0 turnovers per game in conference play.
- Morgan Gallagher, Old Dominion, Defense: A 2015 First Team All-Conference and Mid Major All-American selection returns for the Monarchs in 2016. She played in all 18 games and picked up 41 ground balls. Gallagher also caused 24 turnovers last season.
- Kylie Birney, Detroit, Midfield: Birney, a two-time First Team All-Conference selection, returns for her senior season with the Titans. The 2015 A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year scored 38 goals for the Detroit in 2015. She also controlled 36 draws and added 25 ground ball pick ups last season.
- Hannah Wilcox, Jacksonville, Midfield: Wilcox a two-time Preseason All-conference selection played in all 20 games for the Dolphins last season. She scored 19 goals and finished with 25 total points. Wilcox added 29 draw controls, second most among returning Dolphins this season.
- Sydney Farwick, Kennesaw State, Midfield: Farwick is back following a school-record breaking season in 2015 for the Owls. The middie from Columbus, Ohio, scored 44 goals and added 11 assists for 55 total points. The goals and points total are the most in KSU's program history. She was a Secon Team All-Conference pick in 2015 and was named Player of the Week on two occasions.
- Connor Carson, Old Dominion, Midfield: Carson is a 2015 First Team All-Conference selection and scored 39 goals for the Monarchs last season. The junior midfielder added seven assists to total 46 points. Carson also picked up 33 ground balls and led the league with 58 draw controls.
- Paige Gamble, Furman, Attack: Gamble, a 2015 A-Sun All-Freshman team selection, started all 17 games in Furman's inaugural season. Scored 27 goals and tallied a team-high 17 assists for the Paladins a year ago. Ranked second in the A-Sun with 56 draw controls.
- Danielle Della Rocca, Jacksonville, Attack*: Led the A-Sun with 55 goals scored and 82 points in 2015. The junior was a First Team All-Conference selection in 2015 and returns to lead the league's highest scoring offense. Scored three or more goals in nine games last year, including a career-high seven against Presbyterian.
- Ashmore Standing, Old Dominion, Attack*: Standing finished her first season in the A-Sun with a team-high 52 goals, second most in the conference. Was honored as a First Team All-Conference selection and Mid Major All-American in 2015. Tallied 28 ground balls, 24 caused turnovers and 20 draw controls.
For the fourth-straight year, the Atlantic Sun took to social media to poll the fans for the conference preseason superlative awards. A total of 3,125 votes were cast on Facebook. With 444 total votes, Kennesaw State's Laura Jordan was voted Fan-Voted Defensive Player of the Year, while Furman's Paige Gamble garnered 624 votes to take home the Fan-Voted Player of the Year honor.