Kelly's Squad Garners 55 Points, Sits Atop Preseason Poll
TOWSON, Md. — The Landmark Conference's head coaches have voted and, although not unanimously, they picked Goucher to successfully capture another conference championship in 2013.
The Gophers, who launch their season Saturday against Birmingham-Southern, were chosen to repeat by five of the six opposing head coaches (head coaches could not vote for their own team) and garnered 55 points to sit atop the conference's preseason poll for the third consecutive year. Drew received the remaining two first-place votes and 48 points to finish second in the annual poll.
Picked third in the poll was Scranton, which received 36 points, while Catholic and Susquehanna share the fourth spot, each picking up 23 points. Rounding out the poll are the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in sixth place (17 points) and Washington & Jefferson in seventh (15 points).
Catholic has the honor of being the first Landmark Conference team to play a game this season as the Cardinals open up tonight against Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Va. All seven Landmark teams will be in action by February 27.
The top four teams in the final regular season standings qualify for the Landmark Conference postseason tournament. The top two seeds will host semifinals on May 1; the highest remaining seed will have home-field advantage in the championship game, scheduled for May 4.
The conference champion will receive an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The Gophers captured their first conference title in 2010, which was the 19th year of existence for the school's men's lacrosse program. Two years later, they again laid claim to supremacy in the Landmark Conference, going undefeated in conference play during the regular season. As the No. 1 seed in the conference's postseason tournament, Goucher defeated Catholic, 13-6, in the semifinals and Drew, 10-7, in the finals. That put the Gophers back into the NCAA Division III Championships where, in the opening round, they knocked off Washington (Md.) for the program's first victory in an NCAA postseason tournament. The 5-4 win over the Shoremen earned Goucher a shot at Salisbury in the second round and the eventual national champions downed the Gophers, 12-4.
The loss to the Sea Gulls brought an end to a season in which the Gophers went 18-2 and made it as high as No. 10 in the USILA Division III national rankings. The 18 wins surpassed the program's previous single-season record by four; during one stretch of the season, they strung together 15 consecutive victories, which is also a new school record for longest winning streak.
Brian Kelly takes over as Goucher's new head coach this season.