ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Stevens Institute of Technology is the preseason favorite to win the 2011 Empire 8 women’s lacrosse title according to a poll of the league’s nine head coaches. The Ducks received five first-place votes and totaled 61 points, one more than the second-place Ithaca. Stevens won the conference title and advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship in 2010.

Following Ithaca in the poll was Nazareth, Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher to round out the top five.

Empire 8 Coaches Preseason Poll
Rank School (First-place) Points
1 Stevens (5) 61
2 Ithaca (4) 60
3 Nazareth 46
4 RIT 42
5 St. John Fisher 40
6 Utica 30
7 Elmira 18
8 Hartwick 14
9 Alfred 13

Stevens went 17-3 overall and 7-1 in the conference last year. The Ducks were the second seed in the conference tournament and went to Ithaca where they won in the tournament to take the Empire 8’s automatic berth into the NCAA field.

Stevens returns two first-team All-Empire 8 picks and Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrose Association (IWLCA) All-Americans in senior defender Kate Cox and senior midfielder Christine Smith. Cox is a two-time all-conference selection and All-American who led the team with 59 ground balls and 29 caused turnovers a year ago. Smith is the program’s all-time leader in draw controls with 217 and has been all-conference each year she has played at Castle Point. Smith has scored at least 40 goals in all three of her seasons as a Duck.

Also returning are second-team All-E8 picks Leah Wasserman, Ashley Carey and Spencer Waybright. Wasserman, a senior attacker, was second on the team in points in 2010 and was named the Empire 8 Championship’s Most Valuable Player. She is third all-time at Stevens in goals and points. Carey was one of the Ducks’ top defenders as a sophomore and earned All-Boardwalk honors after tallying 33 ground balls, 34 draw controls, and 25 caused turnovers. As a freshman, Waybright had 28 goals, 15 assists, 25 ground balls, 27 draw controls, and 12 caused turnovers. She was one of only three players on the team that recorded double-digits in all five major statistical categories.

Stevens is ranked 10th nationally in the IWLCA Preseason Poll and the team will square off against four teams featured in the rankings in No. 4 The College of New Jersey, No. 5 Gettysburg, No. 12 Tufts and No. 14 Middlebury.

During 2010, Stevens defeated two top-10 teams in eighth-ranked Union and No. 3 TCNJ during the regular season. Stevens outscored its opponents by 99 goals (286-187), had a margin of victory of 4.95 goals per game, and four players accumulated more than 50 points. The Ducks finished the year ranked fourth in the nation in winning percentage (0.85), 13th in points (430), 25th in draw controls per game (15), 32nd in scoring margin, 36th in defense, 38th in offense, and 42nd in caused turnovers.