Lee Lacrosse Picked To Finish First In Gulf South Preseason Poll

Friday, January 14, 2022
The Lee women's lacrosse team has been picked to repeat as Gulf South Conference Champions as the league released its preseason poll on Thursday.

The Lady Flames received 34 votes and four first place votes coming off the program's first GSC Regular Season Championship and a 9-4 record last year. Alabama Huntsville was picked second with 30 votes, followed by Montevallo (23) and newcomer to the league Flagler (20).

"We made great progress as a team during the 2021 season which allowed us to finish with a 9-4 record and pick up the regular season conference championship.  Our youth and a shortage of midfielders hampered us later in the season, but we added several transfers that should increase our overall endurance in the midfield," said fourth-year head coach Derrel Martin.
"We are still a young team that is learning, and we appreciate the vote of confidence, but I think the GSC will be competitive from top to bottom again this year. We may have teams still dealing with Covid health issues so that may also be a factor in the conference outcome."

The Lady Flames bring back the reigning GSC Player of the Year in junior Brittney White. The talented midfielder scored 60 goals and posted 103 draw controls last season and was named to the All-South Region First Team. Veteran senior leader Dariana Blanton also returns to lead the attack. Blanton was named to the 2021 All-GSC team and scored 45 goals and 25 assists last year. Anchoring the defense will be sophomore goalie Kaleigh Bernard. She will look to build off a fantastic freshman campaign as she was named the GSC Defensive Player of the Year, going 6-3 with a 9.98 ga/avg. and 72 saves. Other key returners are senior leader and the program all-time assist leader, Shayna Ryan, junior defender, Jaylee Giffin and sophomore defender Jamey Ryan.

"Brittney White returns as the 2021 GSC MVP and All South Region midfielder and we hope to have surrounded her with more support in the midfield with transfers Hannah Nee, Megan Trout, and Caleigh Kenna.  Seniors Darian Blanton and Shayna Ryan will be back on attack for their last campaign.  Both of them are healthy and ready to go for a championship run," noted Martin. "We believe that we are returning a strong defensive unit with Jamey Ryan and Jaylee Giffin playing the low spots and our choice of capable goalies in Kaleigh Bernard and Caleigh Smith.  Bernard was the 2021 GSC Defensive Player of the Year and she is ready for 2022."

Coach Martin and (assistant coach) Megan Smith have also bolstered the roster with key new additions, Hannah Vecsey, Hannah Nee, and Megan Trout. Vecsey is a freshman attacker from Canton, Ga., Nee is a redshirt freshman midfield transfer from Mercer University, and Trout comes to Lee as a redshirt freshman midfielder from Gardner Webb University.

"We expect Vecsey to make an immediate impact as an Attacker.  She brings great lacrosse IQ and very efficient stick skills to our offense," said Martin.

The 2022 season gets underway for the Lady Flames on Wednesday, Feb. 9 as they host Tusculum University. The opening draw is set for 4 p.m. at the Ray Conn Sports Complex. GSC play will begin with a visit to Rome, Ga. to take on the Shorter Hawks on Mar. 16 at 5 p.m. The Lady Flames will travel to Shorter, Alabama Huntsville, and Montevallo and will host Lander, Flagler, and Young Harris.

"Coach Megan Smith and I invested heavily in developing a positive team culture during our time at Lee and it has paid off with a team that loves and trusts each other.  Now that we have that going for us, the wins will come and we can endure the tough contests," concluded Martin.

 

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