Lynchburg Field Hockey Picked #1 in Pre-Season Poll - Ranked #13 in NCAA

Lynchburg Field Hockey Picked #1 in Pre-Season Poll - Ranked #13 in NCAA

Lynchburg Tabbed Atop ODAC Field Hockey Preseason Poll
Hornets Followed by Randolph-Macon, Bridgewater in Top Three

FOREST, Va. --- Lynchburg College picked up eight first place votes and 64 total points to lead the 2013 ODAC Field Hockey preseason poll.  Randolph-Macon College collected 54 tallies, including the remaining top spot consideration.  Bridgewater College rounds out the top three with 40 points (full poll results below).

The 2012 campaign saw Lynchburg win its seventh straight and ODAC-record 16th overall conference field hockey crown via a 3-0 victory over Randolph-Macon in the ODAC Tournament championship game.  The Hornets' postseason continued for three games in the NCAA Division III Tournament.  LC defeated Catholic University, 4-3, in overtime at home in first round action. The Hornets then shutout Messiah, 2-0, in the second round, but fell to the University of Mary Washington, 3-2, in round three.

Lynchburg (19-4 overall, 8-0 ODAC) opens the season ranked 13th in the NFHCA preseason coaches' poll.  Head coach Enza Steele looks to replace three-time ODAC Player of the Year and two-time ODAC/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Shelly Milks, as well as leading scorer Lindsay Leonard.  LC welcomes back five all-conference players, including 2012 first teamer Nicole Marburger (4g, 5a), who is a member of the Hornets' defensive unit that registered a 0.95 goals-against-average. Joining Marburger in the back is second team pick Melanie Tenney (1g, 5 def. saves) and a third team choice Courtney Gillette (2a). Katie Kline (9g, 1a) and Kelli Williams (4g, 3a) return to the midfield after capturing third team accolades a season ago.

Randolph-Macon (10-10, 7-1) returns all but one of its five all-conference players from the 2012 campaign. The Yellow Jackets will be led on offense by senior attacker Lauren Seal (3g, 8a), who garnered first team accolades a year ago. Joining Seal up top is third team pick Rachel Gardner, who registered six goals and dished out two assists. Carrie Jacobs will headline R-MC's defense after capturing first team honors last year. Jacobs led the team in points (30) and goals (12). Senior Olivia Newman (5g, 4a) was a second team choice in 2012 and will join Jacobs on defense.

Bridgewater (11-8, 6-2) welcomes back a strong offense, including four all-conference players. In the midfield, Caroline Augsburger (3g, 9a) returns after earning first team laurels last year. Third teamer Rachael Loy (4g, 2a) is back with Augsberger in the middle of the field. Taylor Prillaman, a second team selection in 2012, led the team with 31 points on an ODAC second-best 15 goals and one assist during her rookie campaign. Colleen Dickson is also back up top after notching seven goals and five assists en route to collecting third team recognition.

Washington and Lee (6-12, 4-4) enjoys the return of two all-conference players. Senior midfielder Victoria Van Natten (1a) is back after collecting first team accolades in 2012.  Second team senior Riley Hampsch (1g) returns to spearhead the Generals' defense.  W&L's offense will look for Charlotte MacDonald (4g, 1a) to build upon her nine-point rookie season, which tied for second-best on the squad in 2012.

Eastern Mennonite (4-12, 3-5) returns two all-conference standouts from a year ago. Junior Bethany Hench (3a) collected second team laurels as a member of the Royals' defensive unit.  Junior third team attacker Jenessa Derstine (3g, 3a) and classmate Michelle Zook (8g) are back to bolster EMU's offense.

Shenandoah (11-8, 4-4) will have a new look this year as first year head coach Ashley Smeltzer takes over the reins.  Sophomore attacker Kelani Bailey (4g, 4a) and sophomore defender Tori Finney (5g) make their return to Winchester to lead their respective units.  Senior goalkeeper Sarah Clare (110 saves) will guard the Hornets' cage once again.  She posted a 1.85 GAA and a .769 save percentage in 2012.

Roanoke (4-13, 3-5) features three of its four all-conference players from a year ago. Senior attacker Kelly Finn (5g) is back after earning second team honors, while junior goalkeeper Darian Shuker is stationed between the pipes for the Maroons. Shuker earned second team recognition after registering a 2.93 GAA and a .738 save percentage. Junior defender Stacey Bechtel (2 def. saves), a third team pick in 2012, heads up the Maroons' defense.

Virginia Wesleyan (3-12, 1-7) will be under new direction as first year head coach Christina Restivo leads the Marlins into the 2013 season. VWC will look to its senior leadership in the midfield in second teamer Taylor Lober (3g, 2a) and third team pick Jillian Gorman (2a).

Sweet Briar (1-12, 0-8) welcomes back sophomore defender Eve Mergenthaler (4 def. saves), who earned second team laurels as a member of the Vixens' defensive unit. Sophomore attacker Hannah Oybkhan also returns after leading SBC with seven points on three goals and one assist.

The 2013 field hockey season begins on Friday, August 30, with ODAC schools in action against non-conference opponents.  For more information, visit any of the participating schools' websites or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at  Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter.

(#) Denotes First Place Votes

1. Lynchburg (8)

64 pts.

2. Randolph-Macon (1)

54 pts.

3. Bridgewater

40 pts.

4. Washington and Lee

39 pts.

5. Eastern Mennonite

37 pts.

6. Shenandoah

32 pts.

7. Roanoke

30 pts.

8. Virginia Wesleyan

20 pts.

9. Sweet Briar

8 pts.

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