CLEVELAND, Ohio – Entering the 2018 season ranked No. 24 in the IWLCA Preseason Polls, Denison women's lacrosse was chosen as the unanimous favorites to win the North Coast Athletic Conference. Receiving all nine first-place votes by the NCAC coaches, the Big Red took the top spot with 81 total points, followed by Oberlin (59 points) and Allegheny (58 points).
Denison has been a dominating force within the NCAC since the conference's inception in 1985. The Big Red has won a record 19 conference titles over that span. Since the inception of the NCAC Tournament in 1994, Denison has captured 12 postseason tournament titles, including a run of four-consecutive conference tournament titles that has resulted in four-straight appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Last year, Denison went undefeated in conference play for the second-straight season. Denison's 15-4 campaign in 2017 was highlighted by an 11-game winning streak that resulted in Denison being selected to host an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1987.
The Big Red return three of their top-four goal scorers from a year ago, headlined by sophomore Kiely Noonan who posted a team-high 48 goals as a first-year to finish the season as a second-team All-NCAC selection. Seniors Claudia Rafi and Leah Israel combined for 69 goals in 2017, while junior Maddy Heher will look to add to her 27 goals and 12 assists from last season.
On the defensive side, junior Jane Goodspeed returns to lead a Denison defense that allowed just 9.1 goals per game last season. Totaling 45 ground balls, 63 draw controls and 35 caused turnovers in 2017, Goodspeed was honored as a first-team All-NCAC and IWLCA All-Great Lakes Region selection for the second season in a row.
The Big Red will open its season this Sunday, Feb. 25 when they travel to Fredonia, N.Y. to take on the Blue Devils of Fredonia State at 1 p.m.