February 11, 2016
Sophomore Elizabeth Morrison anchors the top defense (5.27 goals allowed per game) in Division III. (Kevin P. Tucker)
Sophomore Elizabeth Morrison anchors the top defense (5.27 goals allowed per game) in Division III. (Kevin P. Tucker)

Nike/LM Preseason All-Americans: Division III Women

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | #LMRanks

Cortland won its first NCAA women's lacrosse title last year by riding a multi-faceted offense that was impossible to game plan for.

Bad news for the rest of Division III: The Red Dragons are going to be impossible to prepare for again.

Cortland highlights Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Division III Preseason All-American Team with two players, and easily could have had several more players on the list. Attacker Kristen Ohberg and midfielder Ashley Gentile both topped 80 points last season for Cortland, which ranked third in Division III with 17.57 goals per game a year.

The biggest threat to Cortland once again looks to be Trinity, the team which had ended the Red Dragons season in three consecutive years before Cortland finally stopped them in the final game last year. The Bantams also place two players on the team: midfielder Martha Griffin, the Nike/LM Preseason Player of the Year, and attacker Clare Lyne, who was the only sophomore on the NESCAC All-Conference team last season.

Joining Ohberg and Lyne at attack are Tufts' Caroline Ross, the former NESCAC Rookie of the Year, who ranked second in the league with 64 points and 51 goals last season, and Salisbury's Megan Wallenhorst, who will look to get the Sea Gulls back into the NCAA title game.

Rounding out the midfield are two perennial NESCAC standouts. Amherst's Rachel Passarelli broke out as sophomore during Amherst's run to the 2014 final four after playing just two games as a freshman and has not stopped since. Middlebury's Laurel Pascal has final four experience and will provide nice continuity on a team that is working in a new coach for the first time since the 1980s.

The defense is represented entirely of players on teams looking to eclipse Cortland and Trinity and break into the title game. Vanessa Budd earned first-team All-American honors last year after anchoring a backline that Franklin & Marshall rode all the way back to the final four. Elizabeth Morrison was an All-American as a freshman after helping TCNJ field the best defense in Division III, despite playing one of its toughest schedules. Rowan's Kelly O'Brien joined Morrison on the NJAC first team after pairing 63 draw controls with 52 ground balls, and ended up as a third-team All-American. Megan Strauch has been a starter since day one at York and last year earned third-team All-American honors. She'll look to help the Spartans unseat Salisbury at the top of the CAC.

Bates' Hannah Jeffery, the 2015 IWLCA Goalie of the Year, rounds out the list. Jeffery stood on her head to shock Trinity two years ago, and her steadying presence makes the Bobcats a threat to reach the NCAA tournament, even though they play in the NESCAC, which has eight teams ranked in the Nike/LM Preseason Top 20.

Nike/LM Division III Women's Preseason All-American Team

Attack

Caroline Ross, Tufts, Sr.
Megan Wallenhorst, Salisbury, Sr.
Kristen Ohberg, Cortland, Jr.
Clare Lyne, Trinity, Jr.

Midfield

Ashley Gentile, Cortland, Sr.
Martha Griffin, Trinity, Sr.
Rachel Passarelli, Amherst, Sr.
Laurel Pascal, Middlebury, Sr.

Defense

Vanessa Budd, Franklin & Marshall, Jr.
Elizabeth Morrison, TCNJ, So.
Kely O'Brien, Rowan, Jr.
Megan Strauch, York, Sr.

Goalie

Hannah Jeffrey, Bates, Sr.


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