February 14, 2013

DU tabbed NCAC preseason favorite

Denison was selected by the North Coast Athletic Conference coaches as the preseason favorite in the annual men's lacrosse preseason coaches' poll.

The Big Red, who captured their second-consecutive NCAC title last season after posting a 5-0 league mark and a 15-2 overall record, earned all eight first-place votes cast by league coaches to total 64 points. Ohio Wesleyan, which has competed in the NCAA Division III Tournament each of the last eight seasons, is predicted to finish second this season after accumulating 55 on the coaches' poll. Kenyon landed in the third position with 49 points, followed by Wittenberg (37), Wooster (33), Oberlin (26), DePauw (15) and Hiram (9). 

DU did lose a majority of its offensive production from a year ago due to graduation; however, the squad does return its leading goal scorer in junior Eddie Vita. Vita finished the 2012 season with 44 goals and 15 assists for 59 total points, while also corralling 34 ground balls and causing nine turnovers. Defensively, first-team All-NCAC selection Tommy Harrison and junior long pole Austin Campbell are back after helping DU limit the opposition to just 6.1 goals per game in 2012.  Junior Chip Phillips was one of the nation's best face-off specialists last year and he is back after winning 66 percent of his draws in 2012.

Denison head coach Mike Caravana is in his fifth season of his second tenure at the helm of the Big Red program. In 19 total years as head coach of the Big Red, he holds a career record of 195-78 to go along with eight NCAC titles and 12 trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament. In 1999 and 2001, Denison advanced to the semifinal round of the national tournament under Caravana's direction.  Last year was Denison's 12th NCAA Tournament quarterfinal appearance.

In addition to the finish atop the NCAC preseason poll, the Big Red also ranked 10th in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) preseason poll.  Denison opens the 2013 campaign on Saturday at Mount St. Joseph.  Game time in Cincinnati is slated for 1 p.m.