Gettysburg Begins Quest for Third Straight Title Atop Rankings


Gettysburg's Claire Macatee works against Middlebury's Kate Zecca during the Bullets' win in the 2018 NCAA final. Expect both teams to make another run at the title this season.

Winning a national championship is hard; repeating as champion, harder.

Capturing a third straight?

Gettysburg will try to do just that this season, and it begins that quest atop the Nike/US Lacrosse Division III Women’s Preseason Top 20. The Bullets return all-everything midfielder Steph Colson and a host of others, having enough key ingredients to accomplish that rare feat.

But perennial powers and final-four participants TCNJ and Middlebury likewise bring back plenty of talent and experience to lead a host of challengers. Here’s a quick look at the prospects for each of the top 20, some of which begin play Feb. 16.

1. Gettysburg

No player may do as much for her team as Brine/US Lacrosse Preseason Player of the Year Steph Colson does for the two-time defending champions. The 2018 IWLCA Player of the Year and first-team All-American led Gettysburg with 50 goals, 76 points, 140 draw controls and 53 ground balls. Six seniors graduated, but the Bullets return goalie Bailey Pilder.


The Lions graduated just three seniors from their NCAA semifinalist team, among them four-time first-team All-American defender Elizabeth Morrison. But All-Americans Miranda Chrone (goalie), Olivia Cleale (attack, 97 points) and Kathleen Jaeger (midfield, 55 goals) return.

3. Middlebury

First-team All-American attacker Emma McDonagh, who led the NESCAC champions with 54 goals and 75 points, returns to lead a potent one-two punch up front alongside 5-foot-11 Kristen Murphy (32 G, 30 A).

4. Wesleyan

Coach Kim Williams will enter her fourth season needing to replace just two seniors from a team that last season started 6-1, handed then-No. 1 TCNJ its first loss, and won two true road games in the NCAA tournament.

5. Amherst

First-team All-American Sabrina Solow caused 39 turnovers to help Amherst reach the NCAA quarterfinals. As a freshman, Claire Dunbar became a multi-dimensional threat with 31 goals and 37 assists.

6. Mary Washington

The Eagles sometimes fare better when preseason expectations are lower, but their potential for excellence this season can’t be ignored. Ten of 11 players that amassed double figures in points return, led by second-team All-American attacker Mackenzie Maguire (37 G, 36A).

7. Tufts

The Jumbos return their entire defense, led by third-team All-American Hedy Veith (21 CT). First-team All-American attacker Dakota Adamec controlled 52 draws, scored 51 goals and handed out 16 assists for Tufts, which had a late lead at Franklin and Marshall in the second round of the NCAA tournament before falling.

8. York

The Spartans likewise must recover from a late blown lead; this one at Middlebury in an 11-10 NCAA quarterfinal loss. First-team All-American Meghan Fox led the offense with 57 goals and 67 points, and similar honoree Nicole Clauter retrieved 112 draws and caused 29 turnovers. The Spartans’ top three scorers return, but they must replace goalie Charlotte Wright.

9. Franklin and Marshall

The Diplomats suffered big losses at attack and in goal, but youthful talent is in place. Second-team All-American defender Maggie Hanzche (24 CT) was just a sophomore, and freshmen Anya Chopoorian (73 DC, 19 CT), Megan Jackson (42 DC, 37 G) and Jane Cote (20 G, 50 A) contributed significantly to the NCAA quarterfinal run.

10. Salisbury

The Sea Gulls may be hard pressed to return to the final four, having graduated their top three point producers. But third-team All-American Martha Hutzell (56 DC, 20 CT) returns alongside most of the defense, and attacker Emma Skoglund finished second on the team with 37 goals as a freshman.


11. Cortland

The Red Dragons graduated eight seniors but return two first-team All-Americans in midfielder Lexie Meager (60 G, 13 A, 68 DC) and defender Hailey Dobbins (77 DC, 57 GB, 38 CT).

12. Bowdoin

Eliza Denious impressed as a freshman, earning third-team All-American honors with 41 goals, nine assists, and 47 draw controls as Bowdoin reached the NCAA tournament’s round of 16.

13. Trinity

The Bantams nearly reached the final four, falling in a dramatic quarterfinal at Salisbury, 9-8. Replacing nine seniors will be tough, but freshman Sophie Berger finished third on the team with 45 points and four defensive starters or significant contributors return.

14. Washington and Lee

Four of the Generals’ top five point-producers return to somewhat offset the graduation of six seniors. Leading the way will be attacker Cordelia Peters (48 G, 25 A).

15. Ithaca

The Bombers return nine starters, highlighted by Liberty League Co-Offensive Player of the Year Allie Panara. The IWLCA All-Empire Region first-team attacker set a school single-season record with 91 points (39 G, 52 A) and ranks second in program history with 99 assists.

16. William Smith

Defender Mekayla Montgomery transferred from Gettysburg before the 2018 season and quickly made herself at home, earning third-team All-American honors to lead the Herons to the Liberty League championship. She’s back to help William Smith try to advance past the NCAA second round.

17. St. John Fisher

The Cardinals couldn’t take advantage of home-field advantage in an NCAA second-round loss to Wesleyan, but four-year starting defender Molly Tice (42 GB, 27 CT) and leading scorer Mallory Eymer (42 G, 3 A) return.

18. Catholic

Catholic won two NCAA tournament games to highlight a 15-7 campaign. The Cardinal will push for another Landmark Conference title with second-team All-American defender Erin Dugan (82 DC, 40 CT) and All-Chesapeake Region goalie Nanci Hernandez back to anchor the defense.

19. Messiah

The Falcons got bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season but hope to bounce back behind All-Metro Region first-team midfielder Annika Johnsen, who tallied 43 goals, 12 assists and 22 draw controls a year ago.

20. Colorado College

The Tigers tied their single-season record for wins with 15 last season, topped by eliminating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps from the NCAA tournament. Eight starters return, including versatile all-conference midfielder Ellie Meyer (24 G, 9 A, 29 CT, 43 DC, 35 GB).

Also considered (alphabetical order): Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Denison, Geneseo, Rowan, Stevens.

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