Coaches pick JU for second in NLC race
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The High Point Panthers have been selected as the team to beat in the National Lacrosse Conference for the 2012 season while Jacksonville University has been picked second. High Point, which completed its inaugural campaign as NLC champions with a 6-1 conference record and 15-4 overall mark, were picked in a vote of league coaches. They beat JU in the conference tournament final in overtime. The Panthers, coached by the 2011 Coach of the Year, are led by the return of Grace Gaeng, the defending NLC Attacker of the Year, who starts this season as part of the NLC preseason All-Conference Team. In addition, they return Sarah Kuhlman and Courtney McLoughlin, fellow preseason All-Conference teammates to Gaeng. JU, which won the NLC regular-season title last year, was picked second. The Dolphins were the NCAA statistical champions for goals per game (16.21) last season. Sophomore Morgan Derner leads the Dolphins and is recognized as the NLC preseason Player of the Year. Joining her on the preseason All-Conference team are both Ellyn Spangenberg and Rachel Hannon, both of who were on the 2011 postseason team. Coaches could not vote for their own team in the poll and chose Longwood as a preseason third. The Lancers are looking to replace Juli Liebig, the 2011 NLC Goalie of the Year, Cara O’Brien, the 2011 NLC Midfielder of the Year, and Kelsey Dean and Duan Wright, both members of the 2011 NLC all-tournament team. The coaches selected Davidson fourth and Liberty fifth. They were followed by Presbyterian and Detroit.