CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Senior Annie Thomas and junior Maddy Lesher picked up Preseason Patriot League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year honors, respectively, while the Loyola University Maryland women's lacrosse team was the unanimous pick to win the league title in 2015, as announced by the conference office Tuesday.
Thomas, the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year last season, picked up her first All-America honor after leading the team in points (78) and assists (38) a year ago. In conference only games, the attacker from Bel Air, Maryland led all players with 23 assists and 44 points, helping to make Loyola the most dominant offense in the league. As a team, the Greyhounds averaged 15.88 goals per game - 5.00 more than the second-ranked team, 9.12 assists per game - 5.5 more than the second-ranked team, and 25.00 points per game - 11.00 more than the second-ranked team.
Lesher, the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year last year, also picked up her first All-America honor in 2014 and was one of just seven sophomores, among the 48 honorees, to earn the national honor. The Greyhounds' top mark-up defender, Lesher limited her personal match-ups to just four goals in eight conference games, with no one scoring more than once against her. The Gladwyne, Pennsylvania native also anchored a defensive unit that held 14 opponents to eight goals or less, including seven teams to five or less. Loyola finished the season with a league-best 136 ground balls and ranked second in caused turnovers (86).
VanThof, a 2014 All-American and the first Greyhound to be selected to the prestigious US National Team since 2007, anchors a midfield unit that led the Patriot League in draw controls a year ago. A redshirt senior, VanThof was one of nine players in the NCAA to record over 100 draw controls last year, breaking Loyola's game (15), season (122) and career (227) records along the way. The Livonia, New York native finished the year with a point in every game, contributing 31 goals and 40 points, while she also led the team in ground balls (42) and was second in caused turnovers (46).
Schmitt rounds out the Greyhounds' preseason picks after earning first-team All-Patriot League and second-team All-Mid-Atlantic Region honors a year ago. An attacker from Malvern, Pennsylvania, Schmitt finished the season third on the team with 39 goals and 49 points to become the 23rd Greyhound in program history to reach the 100-career goals plateau. She enters her final season on the verge of breaking into Loyola's all-time top-10 in career goals and points with 114 and 139, respectively.
The Greyhounds, coming off a league title in their inaugural year, picked up all 16 possible first-place votes and 128 points in the preseason poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches and sports information directors who were not permitted to vote for their own team or student-athletes. Navy checked in second with 110 points and two first-place votes, while Boston University was close behind in third, with 103 points. Lehigh was picked fourth with 77 points, followed by Holy Cross (5th, 72 points), Colgate (6th, 67), Lafayette (7th, 39), American (8th, 32) and Bucknell (9th, 20).
Conference champions in three of the last four seasons, Loyola will begin its journey for a fifth-straight NCAA tournament appearance on Saturday, Feb. 21, when it travels to Princeton for its season opener.
Patriot League Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
|Team||Points (1st place votes)|
|1. Loyola||128 points (16)|
|2. Navy||110 (2)|
|3. Boston U.||103|
|5. Holy Cross||72|
Women's Lacrosse Preseason All-Patriot League Team
Megan Ark, Colgate (Sr., A)
Loren Generi, Navy (Sr., A)
Hannah Schmitt, Loyola (Sr., A)
Annie Thomas, Loyola (Sr., A)
Kendall Garden, Lehigh (Jr., M)
Jill Horka, Boston U (Jr., M)
Laura Ryan, Holy Cross (Sr., M)
Taryn VanThof, Loyola (Sr., M)
Jenna Frost, Colgate (Sr., D)
Maddy Lesher, Loyola (Jr., D)
Lauren Willcox, Lehigh (Sr., D)
Jennie Berglin, Colgate (Sr., GK)