W&L Tops ODAC 2012 Preseason Coaches' Poll

FOREST, Va. -- Washington & Lee University earned seven first place votes and 79 total points as the Generals were tabbed atop the 2012 ODAC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll. Lynchburg College received two top nods on the way to 73 tallies. Roanoke College and Virginia Wesleyan College each collected 62 points to tie for third, but the Marlins also garnered one first place vote.

The 2011 season saw W&L claim its second straight ODAC title, marking the eighth time in the last nine years that the Generals' hoisted the league's hardware. Washington and Lee hosted Christopher Newport University in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament and toppled the Captains, 15-6. Round two pitted W&L at Salisbury University. After a tough first half, the Generals' comeback bid fell one tally short in a 13-12 loss to the Sea Gulls.

Washington and Lee (15-5 overall, 9-0 in ODAC play in 2011) sets its eyes on a league-best 13th ODAC title in 2012. Reigning ODAC Coach of the Year, Brooke O'Brien, welcomes back a trio of all-conference selections to a squad that ranks 14th in national preseason polls by both the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) and Lacrosse Magazine. Leading the way is All-ODAC First Team defender Christina Benedetti (40 draw controls, 24 groundballs, 17 caused turnovers), who anchored a Generals' defense that allowed 172 goals for an 8.56 goals-against-average, both second in the conference. She's joined on the back-line by All-ODAC Second Team defender Leanne Stone (30 GB, 22 CT). Midfielder Alex Van Horn, the 2011 ODAC Rookie of the Year, is back for year two after notching 32 points on 24 goals and eight assists.

Lynchburg (12-5, 8-1) enjoys the return of four of its six all-conference players from 2011, two each from the first and second teams. Included in that group is the ODAC's third-leading goal scorer, attacker Lesley Buckingham (65 goals, 24 assists, 39 DC, 31 GB, 22 CT) and fellow first teamer, goalkeeper Christina Tran (141 saves), who lead the ODAC in goals-against-average (8.60) and save percentage (.528). Back from the second team are attacker Kendall Adkin (44 G, 9 A) and midfielder Sarah Shannon (12 G, 4 A, 38 GB, 25 CT).

Roanoke (12-8, 7-2) and Virginia Wesleyan (10-8, 6-3) may end up near each other in the standings as the poll indicates, but they'll take different paths getting there. The Maroons must replace the production of the top two scorers in the ODAC in attacker Meegan Rourke and ODAC all-time career and single-season goals scored record-holder, Gina Valles (now an assistant coach at RC). Midfielder Kathleen Wager, a second team choice, looks to build on a campaign that saw her score 37 goals and finish sixth in the ODAC in draw controls (46).

For Virginia Wesleyan, four of its five all-conference choices are back for a shot at the top of the standings. The Marlins feature three former second team choices in midfielders Natalie Belva (43 G, 23 A, 45 GB, 42 DC) and Courtney Williams (47 G, 7 A, 44 GB, 38 DC) and defender Allison Buckley (5 G, 37 GB, 16 CT). Also back is All-ODAC Honorable Mention attacker Nikki Salyers (31 G, 5 A, 44 GB), who teams with Belva and Williams as three of the top four Marlin top scorers from 2011.

Randolph-Macon (7-10, 4-5) features a pair of returning all-conference players, including second team attacker Kelly Egan (41 G, 19 GB), who led the ODAC with 59 assists and was third with 100 points. She's joined by honorable mention midfielder Rachel Johnsen 13 G, 4 A, 36 GB, 37 DC, 17 CT).

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