February 10, 2014

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#LMRanks: NCAA Division III Women's Breakdown - No. 5-10

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

F&M goalie Kelsey Hoffman has been the starter since day one for the Diplomats. Can she lead them back to the top? (David Sinclair)

If a new team is going to crash the women's Division III Final Four for the first time since 2011, it will likely be from this group of five. Three of the teams listed below (Gettysburg, Franklin & Marshall, TCNJ) have won it all within the last 10 years and another (Bowdoin) reached the title game three seasons ago.

10. Geneseo

2013 Record: (13-6, 5-3 SUNYAC)

Geneseo, the lone team on this list without much history to fall back on, seems like an outlier, but the Black Knights fit in among D3’s elite. Geneseo is one of the SUNY system’s most prestigious institutions, and the Blue Knights, who return nine of 11 starters, handed Susquehanna its only loss of the season during their first NCAA tournament trip last year.

Top returner - M Emily Haggerty (Sr.)

The two-time first team SUNYAC player has started every game for the Knights and became their first-ever All-American in 2013 after leading the team with 29 assists and 68 points.

X-Factor - A Caroline Buonocore (Sr.)

The first-team All-SUNYAC attacker elevated her game when it counted most, scoring a career-high six goals to lead Geneseo to its first-ever NCAA tournament game victory over Susquehanna.

9. Bowdoin

2013 Record: (15-4, 8-2 NESCAC)

Same goes for Bowdoin, which knocked TCNJ out in the 2011 semifinals, and Colby, which is coached by Karen McCrate Henning, who won an NCAA title at C.W. Post. With built-in games against Middlebury, Trinity, and each other, the opportunity to crack the Top 5 is there.

Top Returner - M Betsy Sachs (Sr.)

The third-team All-American does it all for the Polar Bears and racked up 24 goals, 16 assists 42 draw controls, 30 ground balls and 35 caused turnovers in 2013.

X-Factor - D Erica Nangeroni, D (Sr.)

The Polar Bears’ defense ranked No. 11 in Division III in 2013. Nangeroni caused 35 turnovers and scooped up a team-high 33 ground balls

8. Colby

2013 Record: (13-5, 7-3 NESCAC)

Top Returner - A Lindsey McKenna (Sr.)

The NESCAC’s leading returning scorer (47 goals), and a third-team All-American, is also the conference’s only returning first-team all-conference player.

X-Factor - Defense 

Michelle Burt returns in goal to anchor a defense that, despite playing one of the country’s toughest schedules, ranked 10th in D-III in goals against in 2013 (6.89). 

TCNJ's Lauren Pigott is the reigning NJAC Midfielder of the Year and a first-team All-American. (Kevin P. Tucker)

7. TCNJ

2013 Record: 15-5

Two years without seeing the final four seems like a long time for TCNJ which, thanks to a great coaching staff and the fertile recruiting grounds of the Garden State, never rebuilds. Seniors Nicole Peneda and Jennamarie Colicchia return to anchor a defense that ranked fourth in D3 last season. The Lions, who have won a record 12 D3 titles, are a virtual lock to finish the year in the Top 10.

Top Returner - M Lauren Pigott (Sr.)

Pigott, a first-team All-American and the defending NJAC Midfielder of the Year, led the Lions in ground balls (37) and draw controls (67), while also racking up 45 goals. 

X-Factor - Coaching

You can never count out the Lions, who are led by one of the greats -- US Lacrosse Hall of Famer Sharon Pfluger. Pfluger has won 403 lacrosse games and this fall became just the second Division III field hockey coach to win 500 games.

6. Gettysburg (19-2)

2013 Record: 19-2 (9-0 Centennial)

Top Returner -A Kelsey Markiewicz (Sr.)

As a freshman at the 2011 NCAA Final Four, pumped in eight goals in two days as a freshmen to lead the Bullets to their first NCAA title. Now a senior, she’s Gettysburg’s leading returning scorer (42 points, 24 assists).

X-Factor - Championship Experience 

As Salisbury showed this year, you can’t count out a group of seniors looking for one more ring. Markiewicz, Loren Pruitt and Katie Blumenthal are all seniors who scored as freshmen in the 2011 NCAA title game.

5. Franklin & Marshall

2013 Record: 16-5 (8-1 Centennial)

Franklin & Marshall vs. Gettysburg is one of Division III’s best rivalries and the two programs, separated by 55 miles and the Susquehanna River, are separated by the slimmest of margins in the preseason polls. Gettysburg, which returns several starters from its 2011 championship team and lost only to Middlebury and RPI last year, defeated F&M twice last season.

Top Returner - A Caroline Krohn, (Sr.)

Krohn was named a first-team All-American after putting up team highs of 28 assists and 64 points and is already eighth in program history with 50 career caused turnovers.

X-Factor - GK Kelsey Hoffman (Sr.)

A starter in Lancaster since Day 1, Hoffman was a steadying presence in goal in the Diplomats run back to the NCAA quarterfinals. The All-American’s 7.67 career goals against average ranks third in F&M history.

F&M, meanwhile, came about as close as anyone to defeating Salisbury last year, when it fell by two in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Diplomats visit Gettysburg on April 23.

Lacrosse Magazine will continue its 2014 college lacrosse preview throughout January and into February, with team-by-team breakdowns of the top teams in NCAA Division I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse. Follow the countdown at LaxMagazine.com/LMRanks and on twitter at #LMRanks.


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