Central Islip, N.Y. – LIU Post, winners of the past two East Coast Conference Women's Lacrosse Championships, have been selected by the conference's coaches as the favorite to win the league title once again in 2017. NYIT senior attacker, Katie Meinecke (Manorville, N.Y.) has been named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while LIU Post senior Cara Douglas (West Islip, N.Y.) and NYIT senior Erin Smith (Wantagh, N.Y.) shared the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year award.
LIU Post is the prohibitive favorite heading in to the 2017 season, earning seven of nine first place votes to top the poll with 78 points. The Pioneers finished their 2016 campaign with a 17-4 overall record, an ECC Championship, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. The Pioneers, who return their top four scorers and reining ECC Goalkeeper of the Year, Olivia Kirk, also begin the season ranked No. 4 in the country in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Division II Preseason Poll.
NYIT comes in at No. 2 in the poll with the final two first place votes and 71 points. A first year program, the Bears are highly ranked under unusual circumstances. Fourteen of the 22 student-athletes on the roster and head coach, Kerri Handras, come from former ECC member, Dowling College, after the school closed its doors last summer. Dowling was a perennial ECC title contender, earning a spot in the last three conference championship games, and like LIU Post, advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2016.
Mercy and Molloy, who both made ECC Championship appearances in 2016, round out the expected playoff participants by coming in at No. 3 and No. 4 in the poll.
Meinecke and Smith, two of the former Dowling standouts who made the move to NYIT, earn the conference's preseason honors. Meinecke, a three-time ECC All-Conference selection, finished in the top three in the league in goals, assists, and points. Her total of 52 goals scored led the league and her 89 points ranked second. Her point total was also among the national leaders, coming in at No. 12. Meinecke's outstanding season earned her a spot on the IWLCA All-America Third Team, the first All-America selection of her career.
Smith was a key part of a Dowling defense that finished 12th in Division II with a scoring defense of 7.81 goals per game. The defender finished in the top-10 in the conference with 39 ground balls and 47 draw controls. She also ranked fourth in the league with 28 caused turnovers. Like Meinecke, her stellar season earned Smith a spot on the All-Conference First Team and the IWLCA All-America Third Team.
LIU Post's Douglas shares the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year with Smith. Douglas helped lead the Pioneers' stingy defense by finishing atop the ECC leader board with 46 caused turnovers on the season and ranked second with 51 ground balls, as well. In addition, her caused turnover per game total of 2.19 per game ranked 14th in the nation. Douglas received numerous honors for her standout play including being named a First Team All-Conference and IWLCA Second Team All-America selection.
2017 ECC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
|School||Pts.||Last Year's Record|
|1. LIU Post (7)||78||17-4 (7-1 ECC)|
|2. NYIT (2)||71||n/a|
|3. Mercy||60||12-7 (5-3 ECC)|
|4. Molloy||53||11-7 (5-3 ECC)|
|5. St. Thomas Aquinas||42||10-7 (5-3 ECC)|
|6. Roberts Wesleyan||41||6-9 (3-5 ECC)|
|7. Queens||26||8-8 (2-6 ECC)|
|8. Bridgeport||25||5-10 (1-7 ECC)|
|9. Dist. Columbia||9||1-13 (0-8 ECC)|
( ) - first place votes
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Katie Meinecke, Sr., A, NYIT
Co-Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Cara Douglas, Sr., D, LIU Post
Co-Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Erin Smith, Sr., D, NYIT