SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Furman Paladins were picked to finish first in the inaugural season of Southern Conference women’s lacrosse by the league’s six head coaches. The coaches also picked a 14-member preseason All-Southern Conference team.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams or student-athletes.
Furman earned a total of 23 points in the preseason poll, receiving three first-place votes. Mercer came in just behind the Paladins with two first-place votes and 22 total points. Competing in the Atlantic Sun last season, Furman and Mercer finished the season No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, both making the conference semifinals.
Central Michigan, which went 7-10 overall and fell to both Furman and Mercer, is slated to finish third with a total of 17 points. Detroit Mercy, which leads the way with five preseason All-SoCon selections, was slotted fourth with 14 points. Wofford, whose program is in its inaugural season, came in fifth with nine points, while Delaware State rounds out the poll with five points.
Four of the six teams were represented on the preseason All-SoCon team, which featured 14 players due to a tie in the voting.
Furman junior attacker Abby Shields was named preseason All-SoCon after a sophomore campaign that included 38 goals and 31 assists. Shields, who was named to the ASUN’s All-Freshman team in 2016, scored 23 goals, including a game-winner against league competition in 2017. The Paladins’ Sophie Brennan made the preseason squad at midfield, scoring seven goals and dishing out seven assists in 19 games as a sophomore.
Mercer, which boasts four members on the all-conference team, has a representative at every position. Goalkeeper Haleigh Wurzel, now a senior, ranked in the top five in saves (156), save percentage (.460) and goals against average (10.31) and was named to the All-Atlantic Sun first team in 2017. Fellow senior Kate Leone led the offensive attack for the Bears in 2017, scoring 56 goals to go with 21 assists, finishing second in total points with 77. Senior Lindsey Zeltwanger, who led the ASUN in both points (98) and assists (51), also chipped in with 41 draw controls and 42 ground balls from the midfield. Junior Audrey Robertson earned all-conference honors after scoring 12 goals and dishing out four assists as a defender.
Emma Hamilton, Jocelyne Lemay and Logan Halvorson all earned preseason honors for Central Michigan. Hamilton had 27 goals in just 16 games as a freshman attacker, while Lemay, a junior midfielder, is coming off a season in which she scored 49 goals in 17 games. Halvorson started all 17 games for the Chippewas as a sophomore, picking up 55 ground balls and totaling 42 draw controls.
Detroit Mercy has a pair of midfielders and a pair of defenders to go along with attacker Lexie Kinmond on the preseason All-SoCon squad. As a sophomore, Kinmond scored 43 goals and had 23 assists for the Titans, while midfielder Morgan Girardi had 43 goals and seven assists. Kaitlyn Wandelt scored 12 goals in just six games, while Emma Mucci and Lauren Webley combined for 68 ground balls and 73 draw controls from the defense.
The 2018 Southern Conference women’s lacrosse season gets under way Saturday, Feb. 10, when Wofford, Furman and Mercer all open their respective seasons. Detroit Mercy travels to Northwestern on Sunday, Feb. 11, while Central Michigan opens at Marquette on Feb. 16 and Delaware State travels to Hartford on Feb. 24.
2018 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll
Team (1st-place votes) Total
- Furman (3) 23
- Mercer (2) 22
- Central Michigan (1) 17
- Detroit Mercy 14
- Wofford 9
- Delaware State 5
2018 Preseason All-Southern Conference team
A Emma Hamilton, Central Michigan
A Lexie Kinmond, Detroit Mercy
A Abby Shields, Furman
A Kate Leone, Mercer
M Jocelyne Lemay, Central Michigan
M Morgan Girardi, Detroit Mercy
M Kaitlyn Wandelt, Detroit Mercy
M Sophie Brennan, Furman
M Lindsey Zeltwanger, Mercer
D Logan Halvorson, Central Michigan
D Emma Mucci, Detroit Mercy
D Lauren Webley, Detroit Mercy
D Audrey Roberston, Mercer
GK Haleigh Wurzel, Mercer