Jacksonville Tabbed as Atlantic Sun Lacrosse Preseason Favorite

"Mary Kate is a strong player and has shown her determination, coach-ability and drive every day," Moore said. "She continues to improve her game and has a very bright future here at Stetson. Though only a freshman, she will help lead our team and build success in our program. I am excited to be able to coach Mary Kate and see what she does this season."

Akl brings a level of collegiate experience as a sophomore transfer from Limestone College.

"Sam is a tenacious worker on the field and will help run our attack," Moore said. "She has brought her experience to our program and has pushed herself and her teammates to work hard and to reach full potential. She continues to work daily on her game and that effort is evident. Sam shares the vision of this program and strives for excellence in her lacrosse experience."

The Hatters will open their inaugural season of play with an exhibition game against the Haudenosaunee National Team at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista on January 26. Their regular season opener at the Stetson Athletics Training Center will be on February 10 against Liberty.

The Hatters will play 10 home matches during their 15-game regular season schedule.

* * * *

KENNESAW, Ga. Freshman midfielders Senneca Ward and Taylor Southerland became the first two student-athletes in the history of the Kennesaw State women's lacrosse program to be recognized with individual honors when they were named to the 2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Newcomer Watch List, it was announced by the league office on Wednesday.

First-year head coach Kristina Llanes and her Owls' team are preparing for their inaugural season that begins Feb. 9 at Vanderbilt. Kennesaw State plays its first-ever home game against Coastal Carolina on March 2 at KSU Stadium.

Ward and Southerland were two of 10 players named to the A-Sun's Preseason Watch list that includes two players each from Detroit, Howard, Jacksonville and Stetson.

"This is great recognition for two players who will provide their leadership and athletic skills to our team as we embark on our first season," Llanes said. "Senneca is an extremely talented and versatile athlete who leads by example and is ready to take on any challenge, on or off the field.

"Taylor is our sophomore captain, who will play a strong role for us in the midfield. She possesses natural abilities as a lacrosse player and has been working hard to improve the skill set she needs to compete at this level. Both will play an integral part in our inaugural season and the success we will achieve along the way," Llanes added.

Ward joins the Kennesaw State program after a four-year career at McIntosh High in Peachtree City, Ga., where she totaled 265 goals and a school-record 85 assists while being team Most Valuable Player all four years.

Southerland was a two-year letterwinner at Harrison High in Acworth, Ga., and earned the team's Defensive Award in 2010 and 2011.

The Atlantic Sun Conference coaches also selected a preseason all-conference team that was highlighted by five players each from Detroit and Jacksonville.

Jacksonville senior defender Rachel Hannon was named both the A-Sun's Preseason Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

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