Central Islip, N.Y. – First-year NYIT women's lacrosse has been voted to finish second according to the East Coast Conference preseason coaches poll announced by the conference office Friday afternoon. The Bears finish behind LIU Post, who are predicted to win the conference for the third straight season. 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.) share 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||Points||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 College||26||8-8 (2-6 ECC)|
|8. Bridgeport||25||5-10 (1-7 ECC)|
|9. District of 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
About the ECC
Founded as the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference in 1989 and rechristened the East Coast Conference in July 2006, the ECC was formed to enhance intercollegiate athletic competition among member institutions and to assist them in integrating athletics into their academic program in a fiscally sound way. The ECC is committed to the highest standards of scholarship, sportsmanship, teamwork, and citizenship. Its mission is to promote the total person concept in its student-athletes, which stresses the abilities to excel in academic achievement, athletic competition, and positive character traits. East Coast Conference members include: University of Bridgeport (Bridgeport, Conn.); University of the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.); Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.); LIU Post (Brookville, N.Y.); Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.); Molloy College (Rockville Centre, N.Y.); New York Institute of Technology (Old Westbury, N.Y.); Queens College (Flushing, N.Y.); Roberts Wesleyan College (Rochester, N.Y.) and St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.). Associate Members include: Chestnut Hill College (Philadelphia, Pa.), Dominican College (Orangeburg, N.Y.), Felician University (Rutherford, N.J.), Franklin Pierce University (Rindge, N.H.), Georgian Court University (Lakewood, N.J.), Kutztown University (Kutztown, Pa.), Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate, Tenn.), and Salem International University (Salem, W.Va.).
The ECC sponsors the following championship sports: baseball; men's and women's basketball; women's bowling; men's and women's cross country; men's and women's lacrosse; softball; men's and women's tennis; men's and women's indoor track and field; men's and women's outdoor track and field; men's and women's soccer; and women's volleyball.
The East Coast Conference is a proud member of the NCAA and Division II. Division II is a dynamic and engaging group of colleges, institutions and conferences of varying sizes and educational missions. Division II members encourage and support diversity; value sportsmanship, fairness and equity; and place the highest priority on the overall educational excellence of the student-athlete.