ELON, N.C. – After an impressive first regular season, the Elon women’s lacrosse team is ready for its first conference tournament with this weekend’s Atlantic Sun Championship. The second-seeded Phoenix will face third-sees Detroit on Friday, May 2, at 3:30 p.m. in the A-Sun semifinals in Jacksonville, Florida, on the campus of Jacksonville University.
Atlantic Sun Semifinals
#2 Elon (8-8) vs. #3 Detroit (4-12)
Date: Friday, May 2
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Site: Jacksonville, Fla. (D.B. Milne Field)
A Look at the Phoenix
Elon finished its regular season with an 8-8 record and a 4-1 mark in A-Sun play. The Phoenix posted a road victory on April 25 at Stetson before its only conference loss against regular-season champion Jacksonville last Sunday. The maroon and gold goes into the 2014 A-Sun Championship looking to win the conference tournament and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in its first year of existence.
No. 3 Detroit
It’s been almost two months since the Titans and the Phoenix faced each other in the first conference game of the season on March 5. Elon walked away with a 9-8 victory in Rhodes Stadium. Detroit is 4-12 overall this season and 3-2 in A-Sun play. The Titans are currently riding a two-game winning streak after an 11-6 win over Stetson and a 17-7 victory at Kennesaw State last weekend. Both attack Erin Campbell and midfielder Kylie Birney were named to the A-Sun first team.
No. 4 Stetson
Elon played at Stetson only a week ago on April 25 with the Phoenix claiming an 18-6 victory after a program and career-high seven goals by Molly Garrigan. The Hatters have only posted two wins on the season with both coming in conference play over Kennesaw State and Howard. Stetson is led by attack Danielle Horgan who has scored 19 goals and has 12 assists on the season, while goalie Caili Guilday leads the country in saves (198) and saves per game (11.65).
No. 1 Jacksonville
The Dolphins won the regular season for the second straight year and are the reigning tournament champions. JU leads the conference in almost every statistical category and has a 5-0 record in league play this year. The Phoenix struggled to get the offense going in the regular-season finale against the Dolphins, falling 17-4. JU’s senior attack Morgan Derner was recently named the player of the year, while senior midfielder Brittney Orashen earned defensive player of the year honors.
On April 30, the conference announced its all-conference teams for the season. Elon had six players earn spots on the various all-conference teams, while Sloane Kessler was named the Freshman of the Year and head coach Josh Hexter named the Coach of the Year. Kessler and Rachel Ramirez earned First Team All-Atlantic Sun honors and were the only freshmen on the 12-person team. Rowan Drake and Erin Murnane were named Second Team All-Atlantic Sun, while Olivia Fernandez and Anna Vitton joined Kessler, Ramirez and Murnane on the Atlantic Sun Freshmen Team.
Sophomore Kelli Stack was named to the Atlantic Sun Women’s Lacrosse Academic All-Conference Team on April 29. Stack has played in all 16 regular-season games for the maroon and gold, earning the start in 14 of those contests. She is third on the team with 22 draw controls, picked up 11 ground balls and has five caused turnovers on the season. Stack recorded a career-high five draws at Stetson and has netted three goals this year. The Lower Gwynedd, Pa., native holds a 3.55 GPA as a marketing and entrepreneurship major.
Phoenix in the National Rankings
In the latest set of national ranking released by the NCAA, three Phoenix players rank in the top 50 in several statistical categories. Goalie Rachel Ramirez ranks eighth in saves (150), ninth in saves per game (9.38), 34th in save percentage (45.2), third in ground balls per game (3.75) and 38th in caused turnovers per game (1.5). Sloane Kessler is 43rd in assists per game (1.38) and assists (22), while Elle Hzovdovic is 50th in draw controls per game (3.43).
The Phoenix was honored five times this season with weekly A-Sun awards. Rachel Ramirez earned defensive player of the week an impressive four times, while Sloane Kessler was named the A-Sun Player of the Week once. Ramirez was the only player to earn a player of the week honor more than twice this season.
If the Phoenix wins Friday’s semifinal against Detroit, Elon will play the winner of No. 1 Jacksonville vs. No. 4 Stetson in Sunday’s championship final. The game will be played at 1 p.m. on D.B. Milne Field.