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Aug. 17, 2016 — NCAA Division III preview

AL’S FEARLESS 5IVE:

Bowdoin
College of New Jersey
Messiah
Middlebury
Ursinus

The College of New Jersey fell a game short of making the NCAA title match after winning its first 20 games of the season. The amazing thing about the effort was that there were exactly two seniors on the team.

The Lions look to have a senior-laden lineup this time around, led by last year’s leading scorer, Lexi Smith (21 goals, 10 assists). I also think sophomore defensive midfielder Sidney Padillia is going to have an advanced role with the team after some promising play a year ago.

The winners of Division III last year were the Middlebury Panthers, who ousted TCNJ from the Final Four last year. Greenwich (Conn.) Academy alumna Annie Leonard (24-7) returns for Middlebury, and the Panthers also retain the services of midfielder Grace Jennings (7-15), who had a splendid freshman season.

Middlebury had vanquished Bowdoin in last year’s title match. The Polar Bears graduate leading scorer Rachel Kennedy, but the rest of the attack — which led the NCAA tournament in shots taken last fall — is back. Watch especially for senior Kimmy Ganong to take up the leadership mantle on the attack end.

Ursinus, despite an enormous offensive output during the postseason, fell short of the Final Four. The Bears will return senior Amber Stiegerwalt (21-9), who tied for the team lead in goals scored a year ago. The defense of Ann Kopera (9-2) and Aliki Torrence are going to determine whether Ursinus can make a return to the national semifinals.

Another team to keep an eye out for is Messiah. Brooke Good’s side has the potential, especially since the Falcons’ three leading scorers return: juniors Carissa Gehman (19-6) and Taylor Holt (13-8), and senior Moriah Pfautz (14-4).

 

 

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