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High Point University Women’s Lacrosse Picked First in Big South Poll

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HIGH POINT, N.C. – The two-time defending Big South champion High Point University women’s lacrosse team was picked to once again finish first in the league’s 2015 preseason poll, the conference announced Tuesday.

The Panthers received seven of eight first place votes to top the league table with a total of 63 points. Winthrop earned the second place spot and the final first place vote with a total of 52 points. Longwood (49), Liberty (35) and Coastal Carolina (33) took spots three through five, while Campbell (30), Presbyterian College (15) and Gardner-Webb (11) rounded out the poll.

The Panthers earned three spots on the pre-season all-conference team. Junior Tori Dunster garnered one of the spots and also was named pre-season co-defensive player of the year along with Maddy Ciardi of Coastal Carolina.

Senior attack Kendyl Gardner and junior midfielder Emily Meier also garnered pre-season all-conference honors.

Dunster appeared in 18 of 20 games and posted eight ground balls and a caused turnover during HPU’s championship season in 2014. The Greenwich, Conn., native also won eight draw controls on the year and played a critical role on HPU’s defensive unit that led the Big South and ranked 10th in the nation in goals against average (8.05).

Gardner is HPU’s top returning scorer, as the Severna Park, Md., native ranked fourth on the team with 43 points in 2014. Gardner ranked second on the team with 38 goals and also dished out five assists on the year. She posted three game-winning goals and picked up six ground balls. Gardner posted at least two goals in nine of 10 games against Big South opponents. She enters the 2015 season in fifth place on HPU’s all-time scoring list with 82 career goals.

Meier saw action in all 20 games in 2015 and ranked fifth on the team with 28 points. The Sayville, N.Y., native also picked up 21 ground balls and buttressed the HPU defensive unit with nine caused turnovers on the year. She posted two or more goals in six games in 2015 and posted three game-winning goals on the year.

The two-time Big South defending champions returns 18 letter winners from a 2014 squad that posted a 14-6 record and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament after sweeping the Big South Tournament and regular season titles. HPU will look to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third-consecutive year in 2015.

The Panthers open the season on Feb. 13 with a contest at No. 2 North Carolina at 5 p.m. HPU hosts its home opener against the Oregon Ducks on Sunday, Feb. 15 at noon.

2015 Big South preseason poll

1. High Point (7) – 63 points
2. Winthrop (1) – 52 points
3. Longwood – 49 points
4. Liberty – 35 points
5. Coastal Carolina – 33 points
6. Campbell – 30 points
7. Presbyterian College – 15 points
8. Gardner-Webb – 11 points

Preseason All-Conference Team

Jenna Kasmarik, Sr., Winthrop (A)
Kendyl Gardner, Sr., High Point (A)
Katie McHugh, Jr., Longwood (A)
Shannon Gallagher, Jr., Winthrop (M)
Emily Meier, Jr., High Point (M)
Nina Dunay, R-Sr., Liberty (M)
Sarah Butler, Jr., Longwood (M)
Lily Yednock, Sr., Coastal Carolina (M)
Tori Dunster, Jr., High Point
Maddy Ciardi, Jr., Coastal Carolina
Alyssa Blevins, Sr., Winthrop
Christian Acker, Sr., Longwood (GK)
Loren Day, Jr., Campbell (AL)
Erin O’Hara, Soph., Campbell
Maura Talcacchia, Soph., Presbyterian

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year

Jenna Kasmarik, Sr., Winthrop

Preseason Co-Defensive Players of the Year

Tori Dunster, Jr., High Point
Maddy Ciardi, Jr., Coastal Carolina

#GoHPU

About the Panthers

Since its inception in 2010, the High Point University women’s lacrosse team has proved to be one of the premier programs in the Southeast. Over those four campaigns, HPU ranks in the top-15 nationally in total wins (54) and winning percentage (.701), and is sixth in conference winning percentage (.929). The Panthers have captured a league championship in each of their first four seasons and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and 2014.

Mark LaFrance

In 2009, Adam O’Neill, Harry Alford and Thomas Alford launched Lacrosse Playground as the preeminent site for lacrosse gearheads. For years Lacrosse Playground provided lacrosse fans with tutorials and tips on how to string a lacrosse head, up-close looks at the gear the top players used and sneak peeks at equipment and uniforms before they were released. More than 10 years and millions of visits later, Lacrosse Playground has relaunched with a focus on storytelling. Our mission is to provide comprehensive coverage of the latest lacrosse news, share insights into the sports betting and fantasy lacrosse world and showcase the lifestyles and personalities of the sport of lacrosse through articles, videos and podcasts.

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