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Aug. 25, 2019 — NCAA Division II Preview

The Fearless Five

East Stroudsburg
Limestone
Millersville
Shippensburg
West Chester

A year ago, Shippensburg won its third straight Division II title. A lot of the credit went to sophomore sensation Jazmin Petrantonio, who was utterly unstoppable in the national semifinal against West Chester, scoring four times. She’ll be back this fall.

Millersville will be one of Ship’s contenders for Division II honors, especially with leading scorer Erica Tarsi returning, plus there are a pair of foreign first-year players with skill and talent.

A year ago, West Chester was ranked No. 1 heading into the NCAA Division II championship festival in Pittsburgh — meaning that the postseason would extend a bit longer than usual. That might have thrown off the Rams’ knowledge base when it comes to how to manage a team through the postseason, as the team lost its national semifinal match. But with leading scorer Katie Thompson returning, I have a feeling West Chester will be meeting up with their PSAC competitors with angry eyes.

Another Pennsylvania team to watch will be East Stroudsburg. They were a break or two from winning last year’s final, which would have been the team’s first title since 2015. An incoming player to watch is attacking midfielder Maddie Kline, who had played with distinction at Oley (Pa.) Valley.

A Division II team with plenty of veteran leadership is Limestone, which returns junior attacker Kelly Diplock. She led the conference in goals and assists a year ago, and it is hoped that the defense, led by Cameron Felch, will keep opponents off the board.

The Contenders

Lindenwood
Merrimack
Pace
St. Anselm
Stonehill

A year ago, Pace was everyone’s favorite newcomer to the ranks of Division II elite. The Setters went 18-3 a year ago and made the NCAA Division II Final Four. To progress to that next step, the team got not one, but three freshmen from the storied Williamsville (N.Y.) North program. Goalie Samantha Mallaire, forward Jenna Piotrowski, and attacking midfielder Lauren Rabinowitz aren’t going to be the answer right away, but with guidance from an able coaching staff, this is a team to watch.

Merrimack is going to have to get their offense going without the graduated Mary McNeil, but there is plenty of experience up and down the lineup. Katharina Ohmen is going to be the key player on defense, as the team’s goalkeeper.

St. Anselm‘s Carly LaCasse and Michelle Lemelin are going to be the fulcrum of the Hawks’ attack this fall. Watch also for goalie Julia Hand, who had 20 starts a year ago as a sophomore.

Stonehill loses a mainstay in 32-goal scorer Kacie Smith and 14-goal scorer Carly Andersen, but will return first-year sensation Olivia Cameron as well as senior Michaels Antonellis.

Our Division II dark horse this year is going to be Lindenwood. The Lions had a 12-3 record, and all three losses were by one goal each. However, the team did not receive a bid to the Division II Tournament. The team has seven off-shore players, something that could very well help this team towards a tournament berth.

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