Minutewomen Again Favorited in Preseason Rankings

By Atlantic 10 Conference

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Courtesy: Atlantic 10 Conference

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Nine-time defending A-10 champion Massachusetts has again been picked atop the 2018 Women’s Lacrosse Preseason Poll, the league announced Thursday.

UMass received six first-place votes to claim the top spot with 96 points, while Richmond received four first-place tallies and 94 points overall to finish second. George Mason and Saint Joseph's each earned 74 points to share the third spot in the rankings.

Coming off an A-10 Championship appearance in 2017, Davidson finished fifth in the voting with 57 points, followed by La Salle (45), VCU (38) and George Washington (32). St. Bonaventure and Duquesne rounded out the poll with 21 and 19 votes, respectively.

 The Minutewomen (17-4, 9-0 A-10) reached the second-round of the NCAA Tournament in 2017, before falling to Navy. UMass was unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play for the seventh consecutive season before winning its ninth straight league title (10th overall) and has an NCAA record 54 consecutive regular-season league wins. Leading the UMass offense this year will be reigning A-10 Offensive Player of the Year Holly Turner, who is joined by first-team selection Hannah Burnett and all-rookie selection Kaitlyn Cerasi. The Minutewomen will look to re-tool a stellar defensive unit which lost three starters from a year ago, anchored this spring by senior Kristen LoManto and returning goalie Lauren Hiller, who earned all-rookie honors last year.

After making their seventh Atlantic 10 Championship game in the last eight years, the Spiders (14-6, 7-2 A-10) return 10 starters from last year's roster. Reigning Rookie of the Year, Sam Geiersbach (66 goals, 19 assists) is joined by First Team All-Conference selection Kim Egizi (41 goals, 33 assists), Marissa Brown and Caroline Queally, both All-Conference second team selections. Anchoring the defense is first-teamer Megan Gianforte, the first Spider rookie to earn top goalie honors since 2006, who led the A-10 with a .499 save percentage and 9.48 goals against average. 

The Patriots (11-7, 7-2) return nine starters from a team that tied for second in the Atlantic 10 last year. Hannah Warpinski, an Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team selection last year, returns after a record-breaking season, setting the school record for draw controls (95) and led the team in ground balls (51), and caused turnovers (36) in addition to scoring 10 goals and dishing out 18 assists. Junior Chachi Kelehan leads the attack as the team’s top returning scorer after she netted 41 goals, dished out 15 assists and collected 56 points. Senior Kira Greer, a two-time Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team selection, anchors the defense as she ranked second on the team in ground balls (39). Goalkeeper Melissa Semkiw (106 saves) and attack Hailey Johnson (25 goals) look to build off promising freshman campaigns as both were named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team.

The second seed in the A-10 Championship just a year ago, the Hawks (11-7, 7-2 A-10) return nine starters, including first team defender, Kristen Kelbon and second-team selection, Rebecca Lane. Lane enters her junior campaign with 71 goals and 53 assists to her name through just 32 games, and will be joined by Aly Gormley (25 goals, 5 assists), Hayley Sabol (16 goals, 7 assists) and All-Rookie selection Julia Pash (15 goals, 2 assists).

The regular season kicks off the weekend of February 9-10, with five of the 10 A-10 teams in action. The 2018 Atlantic 10 Women's Lacrosse Championship will be held May 3-6 at Richmond's Robins Stadium. The Championship will feature an extended bracket of six teams for the third year. View the full 2018 schedule, or visit Championship Central for more information.

Votes - First place votes in parenthesis

2017 Record (Overall/A-10)

1. Massachusetts 96 (6) (17-4; 9-0)
2. Richmond 94 (4) (14-6; 7-2)
T-3. George Mason 74 (11-7; 7-2)
T-3. Saint Joseph's 74 (11-7; 7-2)
5. Davidson 57 (8-10; 5-4)
6. La Salle 45 (7-11; 3-6)
7. VCU 38 (7-10; 3-6)
8. George Washington 32 (3-13; 2-7)
9. St. Bonaventure 21 (4-12; 2-7)
10. Duquesne 19 (2-15; 0-9)

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