February 5, 2014

Lynchburg Tops ODAC Preseason Men's Poll

from press release

FOREST, Va. - Lynchburg College collected six first place votes on the way to 78 total poll points to headline the 2014 ODAC Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll. LC is followed closely by reigning conference champion Roanoke College, which secured four top nods and 76 tallies. Washington and Lee University rounds out the top three with 64 points in the annual coach's survey.

Roanoke staved off a three-goal fourth quarter comeback from Washington and Lee in the 2013 conference title game to claim a league-record 18th championship with a 10-9 win. The Maroons, automatic qualifiers in the NCAA Division III Tournament thanks to its third crown in the last four years, were joined by Lynchburg and W&L on the national stage.

All three schools hosted and won first round games, with LC defeating St. Mary's College (Md.), 6-5, RC dropping Centre College, 21-4, and W&L thumping Sewanee, 19-6. Roanoke and W&L were again tabbed to host in the second round, with Lynchburg making the 55-mile trip to Salem to meet the Maroons. The Hornets got the best of RC, 12-9, while the Generals were eliminated by Salisbury University, 7-4. LC again went on the road for its quarterfinal matchup, this time traveling to Stevenson University for a place in the national semifinals. The Mustangs topped the Hornets via a 13-7 decision.

ODAC squads and returning student-athletes are heavily represented on preseason awards lists and polls from both Face-off Yearbook Magazine and Lacrosse Magazine. Lynchburg, Roanoke and Washington and Lee all have received rankings in both outlets preseason polls. Face-off slots LC ninth, RC 11th and W&L 13, while Lacrosse Magazine rates the Maroons as eighth, the Hornets as 12th and the Generals in 13th position.

Seven players have been recognized as Face-off Yearbook Magazine Preseason All-Americans, led by Lynchburg defenseman Jon Gill on the second team. The remaining six earned honorable mention distinction. That list includes midfielder Thomas Armstong from Hampden-Sydney College, goalkeeper Charles Pease from Roanoke College, Virginia Wesleyan College attackers Josh Currier and Nick Pappas, and midfielder Garrett Paglia and goalkeeper Warren Berenis from Washington and Lee.

Entering the 2014 campaign, 24 all-conference selections return to fields across the ODAC. Five return to Lynchburg (14-6 overall, 7-2 in ODAC play in 2013) as the Hornets go in search of their fifth conference title. Four all-league standouts return to a LC defense that ranked second in the ODAC with a 7.48 goals-against-average. That group is led by Gill (37 ground balls, 25 caused turnovers, 1 assist), who earned All-ODAC First Team and USILA Second Team All-American honors. Goalkeeper Adam Davey (182 saves, 7.69 GAA) and defenseman Tommy Kestermann (52 GB, 24 CT) were tabbed to the All-ODAC Second Team, while fellow backline mate Evan Leeder (17 GB, 15 CT) earned All-ODAC Third Team accolades. Third team attack Austin Stewart (31 goals, 6 A, 26 GB) is the Hornets leading returning scorer and is joined by 20-plus point scorers Campbell Armstrong (22 G, 13 A, 13 GB) and Aaron Murphy (13 G, 9 A) in the front third. Bobby Distler (32 GB, 1 G, 88-of-180 face-offs) is the top returning face-off man.

Roanoke (16-4, 9-0) and reigning ODAC Coach of the Year, Bill Pilat, welcome back four of their eight all-conference honorees from 2013, led by first team goalie Pease (197 SV, 9.04 GAA). RC's backline also features a pair of all-conference defenseman in second teamer Troy Grogan (38 GB, 14 CT, 4 G) and third team choice Wes Pancoast (39 GB, 17 CT, 2 A). Third team attack Will Pilat (32 G, 21 A, 21 GB) and fellow frontrunner Tyler McWilliams (31 G, 31 A, 42 GB) highlight an offense that led the ODAC with 280 goals scored. Clarke Lewis (56 GB, 4 G, 1 A, 94-of-191 F/O) won nearly 50-percent of his face-offs taken a season ago.

Washington and Lee (16-5, 7-2) also has four all-conference selections back in tow, including first team short-stick specialist Jared Mitchell (94 GB, 2 G, 2 A, 190-of-309 F/O). The Generals returning second team duo includes 2013 leading scorer Cameron Dabir (43 G, 18 A, 38 GB) and midfielder Paglia (25 G, 7 A, 25 GB). Long-stick midfielder Noah Lessing (58 GB, 21 CT, 1 G, 1 A) picked up third team laurels last year. W&L's depth can be seen on both ends of the field with Joe Wood (23 G, 11 A, 20 GB) back up front and defenseman Colin Fraser (24 GB, 17 CT, 1 A) and goalkeeper Berenis (185 SV, 7.34 GAA) bolstering a defense that led the ODAC with a 6.94 GAA.

Hampden-Sydney (11-6, 6-3) garnered an ODAC-best nine all-league honors and four are back for another go-round. Three Tigers gathered second team recognition, including leading scorers James Hughes (34 G, 15 A, 26 GB) in attack and Armstrong (36 G, 13 A, 32 GB) in the midfield. Defenseman Ned Bowden (53 GB, 25 CT, 2 G, 1 A) also earned second team honors, and he's joined by third team goalkeeper David Noftsinger (141 SV, 7.62 GAA) and backline partner Casey Bendall (25 GB, 9 CT) as the back-bone of the defense.

Virginia Wesleyan (9-7, 5-4) and Randolph-Macon College (10-9, 5-4) return six All-ODAC standouts combined. The Marlins feature a pair of returning first team attackers in reigning ODAC Rookie of the Year, Currier (35 G, 39 A, 40 GB), and line mate Pappas (40 G, 20 A, 50 GB). Add in Mike Moran (35 G, 17 A, 32 GB) and VWC boasts its top three scorers from 2013. Stephen Soltesz (25 GB, 9 CT) is back on defense, while James Alvarez (49 GB, 117-of-242 F/O) is poised to return to face-off duties. The Yellow Jackets also have their top three scorers back in the fold in second team attack Jason Andrews (52 G, 30 A, 55 GB) and a pair of third team choices in attack Robert Fox (30 G, 15 A, 79 GB) and midfielder Justin Butler (40 G, 15 A, 26 GB). Short-stick specialist Nick Benhoff (177 GB, 11 G, 4 A, 225-of-380 F/O) picked up third team distinction as well.

The trend of returning scoring talent continues for both Guilford College (8-8, 3-6) and Randolph College (5-11, 2-7). The Quakers feature their top marksman in attack Adam Fiore (24 G, 21 A, 14 GB), while third team defenseman Nick Huckins (74 GB, 30 CT, 2 G) and goalkeeper Thomas Deane (111 SV, 10.66 GAA) anchor the backline. Connor Manning (31 GB, 1 A, 104-of-209 F/O) returns to the circle as GC's face-off man. Andrew Risse (21 G, 19 A, 40 GB) and Colton Wood (33 G, 7 A, 37 GB) tied atop the WildCats' charts as leading scorers in 2013. Defenseman Ryan Pearson (42 GB, 29 CT, 1 A) and goalkeeper Cam Davis (209 SV, 12.38 GAA) return to the back, while John Grundy (51 GB, 1 G, 1 A, 88-of-143 F/O) and Brian Crosby (52 GB, 3 A, 76-of-174 F/O) shared face-off duties.

The ODAC's newest programs, Bridgewater College (5-10, 1-8) and Shenandoah University (5-11, 0-9), prepare to open their second seasons of conference play. The Eagles, in their second year as a varsity squad, welcome back leading scorer Kevin Ashcraft (16 G, 10 A, 25 GB), as well short-stick Sam Cheplick (56 GB, 5 G, 3 A, 73-of-166 F/O) on face-off duty. Defenseman Curtis Hughes (19 GB, 16 CT, 1 A) and goalkeeper Andrew Buss (132 SV, 11.16 GAA) head up the defense. Shenandoah is under new leadership as Tim Marshall takes over the Hornets' reins for the program's second season under the ODAC banner after SU became a full-time league member in July 2012. Marshall enjoys the return of playmaker Aaron Paul (13 G, 12 A, 26 GB) to lead the offense, as well as long-stick player Dom Lombardi (60 GB, 36 CT, 1 G, 3 A).

The 2014 men's lacrosse season begins on Tuesday, February 11. For more information on ODAC men's lacrosse, visit any of the participating schools' websites or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter.

2014 ODAC MEN'S LACROSSE PRESEASON POLL

1. Lynchburg (6) 78 pts.
2. Roanoke (4) 76 pts.
3. Washington and Lee 64 pts.
4. Hampden-Sydney 53 pts.
5. Virginia Wesleyan 48 pts.
6. Randolph-Macon 47 pts.
7. Guilford 33 pts.
8. Randolph 25 pts.
9. Bridgewater 16 pts.
10. Shenandoah 10 pts.


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