FOREST, Va. -- Old Dominion Athletic Conference coaches are waiting to see what direction the Virginia Wesleyan College field hockey team might take in 2011.
When the preseason poll was released this week, the Marlins were tagged No. 7 among nine teams, but in a group of four teams separated by only seven points. While VWC received votes to tally 23 points, edging out newcomer Shenandoah University's 22, the Marlins were just four points behind Roanoke College and six behind Bridgewater College. Perennial power Lynchburg College topped the poll with 64 points.
As far as the VWC coaching staff and players are concerned however, the Marlins have the potential to do much better than seventh place. The main reason is experience. Sixteen women return from last year's team, including nine starters led by seniors Valerie Nowlan (Virginia Beach/Salem) and Tara White (Alexandria, Va./Thomas A. Edison).
Add into the mix a solid group of newcomers. The group represents each coast line, including California's Tanya Puccio (Moorpark, Calif./Moorpark), the 2011 Field Hockey Federation Female Athlete of the Year and participant in the 2011 National Futures tournament, to New Jersey's Danielle Pellerin (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central), who helped guide her team to a 19-3 record in 2010.
Virginia Wesleyan opens the season on the road on Saturday, Sept. 3, playing in Swartmore, Pa., against the Swartmore College Garnet at 1 p.m. Swarthmore was selected No. 9 among 11 teams in the Centennial Conference's preseason poll. VWC opens the home schedule on Friday, Sept. 9, hosting Division II's Limestone College from Gaffney, South Carolina at 4:30 p.m. at the National Training Center.
VWC's 2011 schedule lists eight home dates, seven at the NTC and one on the Marlins Field. The latter will be played Wednesday, Oct. 19, against Eastern Mennonite University at 4 p.m.
2011 ODAC FIELD HOCKEY PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
|1. Lynchburg (8)||64 pts.|
|2. Randolph-Macon||53 pts.|
|3. Washington and Lee (1)||51 pts.|
|4. Eastern Mennonite||46 pts.|
|5. Bridgewater||29 pts.|
|6. Roanoke||27 pts.|
|7. Virginia Wesleyan||23 pts.|
|8. Shenandoah||22 pts.|
|9. Sweet Briar||9 pts.|