Forest, Va. -- Six University of Lynchburg field hockey players earned All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference accolades, the conference announced Tuesday.
The ODAC-champion Hornets saw four of those players on the first team, highlighted by a second-career ODAC player of the year honor for senior forward Nikki Simpao (Stafford, Va.) and an 11th-career conference coach of the year award for head coach Enza Steele.
Sophomore defender Alexis Brown (Culpeper, Va.), senior midfielder Kayla Copeman (Williamsburg, Va.), and sophomore forward Jackie Lerro (Royersford, Pa.) all joined Simpao on the all-conference first team. It's the first time one program has seen four players earn first-team honors since Eastern Mennonite placed four on the top squad in 2007.
Lynchburg has placed at least six players on the all-conference teams each of the past three seasons. Simpao and Copeman are the program's sixth and seventh players to earn All-ODAC honors four times.
The Hornets rolled through their conference schedule in 2018, going 8-0 in the regular season and outscoring opponents 37-6 in those contests. Lynchburg captured its 19th conference championship last weekend with wins over Roanoke and Shanendoah to earn the ODAC's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III tournament.
Simpao becomes the fourth Hornet to earn multiple ODAC player of the year awards; she was also the league's top player as a freshman in 2015. She leads the conference in goals (22), assists (21), points (65), and shots (151) and set a program and conference single-game record with six assists in the ODAC championship. Simpao also set the program's single-season and career assists records this season, and she currently ranks third all-time in points with 220.
Brown, a third-team all-conference midfielder as a freshman, anchored a Hornet defense that has allowed just 26 goals in 20 games this season. She's also notched a goal and an assist.
Copeman hops up to first-team distinction after two second-team accolades and a third-team honor over her career. Moving to midfield from forward as a senior, she still ranked fifth in the conference with eight assists and also chipped in seven goals while playing a key role in one of the top defensive units in the country.
Last year's rookie of the year, Lerro repeats as a first-team honoree following a tremendous sophomore season. Her 19 goals and 49 assists rank second in the league, and 11 assists put her third on the league leaderboard.
Eldridge, a first-time All-ODAC player, stepped up this season to the tune of 12 goals and a career-high three assists despite missing time due to injury. She ranks sixth in the conference in scoring.
Strouse also earned all-league honors for the first time this season at the holding midfield position, where she scored one goal and played a pivotal part in the Hornet defense.
Steele's 11th coach of the year award comes in her 40th season at the helm of the Lynchburg program. Heading into NCAA tournament play, her 583 victories rank sixth among NCAA field hockey coaches across all divisions and fourth in Division III. Her Hornets sport a 15-5 record this season.
Shenandoah claimed the other half of the league's superlatives, as senior defender Morgan Payne took the ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete award and SU midfielder Kelsey Jones was the league's top rookie.
Lynchburg's season continues Wednesday, Nov. 7 when NCAC champion Denison visits Shellenberger Field at 2 p.m. in NCAA first round play. The winner will travel to Glassboro, N.J. for a second-round game with No. 3 Rowan Saturday, Nov. 10.
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2018 All-ODAC Field Hockey Awards
ODAC Player of the Year: Nikki Simpao, Sr., F, Lynchburg
ODAC Coach of the Year: Enza Steele, Lynchburg
ODAC Rookie of the Year: Kelsey Jones, Fr., M, Shenandoah
ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete: Morgan Payne, Sr., D, Shenandoah
ALL-ODAC FIRST TEAM
Alexis Brown So. D Lynchburg
Kayla Copeman Sr. M Lynchburg
Jackie Lerro So. F Lynchburg
Nikki Simpao Sr. F Lynchburg
Emma Clark Jr. GK Roanoke
Kaylin Stenson Sr. D Roanoke
Emilee Wooten So. F Roanoke
Taylor Hayes Jr. M Shenandoah
Morgan Payne Sr. D Shenandoah
Lauren Paolano Jr. F Washington and Lee
Haley Tucker Sr. F Washington and Lee
ALL-ODAC SECOND TEAM
Laura Gretz Sr. D Bridgewater
Georgia Howard Jr. D Bridgewater
Tessa Tierson Sr. F Bridgewater
Kayla Maret So. F Eastern Mennonite
Sierra Magdaleno Sr. M Ferrum
Maria Teresa Ambrogi-Torres So. F Randolph-Macon
Georgia Drescher So. D Randolph-Macon
Kayla Alderman Sr. F Shenandoah
Kelsey Jones Fr. M Shenandoah
Cori Jackson Jr. M Virginia Wesleyan
Skye Swain Sr. GK Virginia Wesleyan
ALL-ODAC THIRD TEAM
Ali Bishop Jr. GK Bridgewater
Skylar Hedgepeth Fr. F Eastern Mennonite
Tatianna Roberts Jr. M Ferrum
Isabella Eldridge Sr. F Lynchburg
Emma Strouse So. M Lynchburg
Claire Magill So. D Randolph-Macon
Gatlin Snyder Fr. GK Randolph-Macon
Kestrel Thorne-Kaunelis Sr. M/D Roanoke
Julie Fassl So. F Virginia Wesleyan
Emily Price Jr. F Virginia Wesleyan
Elizabeth Roberto Jr. D Virginia Wesleyan
Caroline Caruso So. M Washington and Lee
Ariyel Yavalar Sr. GK Washington and Lee