Oberlin senior Natalie Rauchle (Edina, MN/Edina) along with the Denison duo of senior Leah Israel (Bloomfield Hills, MI/Cranbrook Kingswood) and junior Jane Goodspeed (East Grand Rapids, MI/East) have been named the Players of the Year to highlight the 2018 All-North Coast Athletic Conference Women's Lacrosse selections following balloting by the league coaches.
Rauchle, who is making her second-straight appearance on the first team and earned her third All-NCAC certificate overall after collecting honorable-mention laurels as a sophomore, was named the 2018 NCAC Women's Lacrosse Offensive Player of the Year after breaking the conference record for goals in a season with 82 total scores in 16 regular season games. The previous record of 80 from Denison's Cheryl Connolly had stood since the 1994 season. Rauchle scored five or more goals in 10 different games this season, which included netting a season-best eight goals in a pair of NCAC wins over Wittenberg, 19-14, on March 24th and Allegheny, 20-14, on April 11th. She is just the third player in program history to earn the NCAC Offensive Player of the Year award and the first since Kim Allen took home the honor in 1999.
Israel, who made the leap to the first team after back-to-back second-team selections, garnered the NCAC Midfielder of the Year honor after helping guide the Big Red to their third-straight and league-leading 20th NCAC title this season with a perfect 8-0 mark in conference play for the third year in a row. Through 17 games this season, Israel has been one of the most versatile players on the field in the NCAC with 55 points (42 g, 13 a), 69 draw controls, 39 groundballs and 27 caused turnovers. Israel, who was also named the MVP of the 2018 NCAC Tournament, hit her high-water mark in points in a 13-12 win over Illinois Wesleyan on March 14th with seven on five goals and two assists, before logging season-best performances in both draw controls and groundballs in the two NCAC Tournament games. She opened the tournament with a season-best eight draw controls in the 24-8 semifinal win over Allegheny, before scooping up a season-high eight groundballs in the 17-10 win over Wooster in the tournament title games.
Goodspeed, who is now a three-time All-NCAC first-team selection, was crowned the 2018 NCAC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Big Red's defensive unit that led the NCAC in nearly every defensive category this season, including goals-against-average (7.33), groundballs (27.89 gbpg) and caused turnovers (14.67 ctpg). Goodspeed, who is the first DU player to earn the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year award since Carly Tschantz in 2012, currently ranks third among league players in both groundballs (66) and caused turnovers (35), while also sitting ninth overall in draw controls with 83 through 18 games this season. She logged a season-high nine groundballs and six caused turnovers in the win over IWU on March 14, before winning a season-best 11 draw controls in the tournament title game against Wooster.
Allegheny senior attack Shelby Piper (Littleton, CO/Chatfield) and Wooster junior midfielder Megan Healy (Ottawa Hills, OH/Ottawa Hills) join Rauchle and Goodspeed as repeat selections on the first team from 2017. Piper also earned second-team honors in 2016. Allegheny senior defender Brie Freeman (Rochester, NY/Eastridge), who is the only four-time All-NCAC performer on this year's team, jumped up to the top team this season after earning honorable-mention laurels last spring, second-team honors in 2016 and an honorable-mention certificate in 2015.
Denison senior defender Grace Gavula (Glenview, IL/Loyola Acad.) also made the leap to the top team after back-to-back second-team appearances, while Ohio Wesleyan junior goalie Kelly Coffyn (Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge) earned a spot on the first team after landing on the honorable mention team in each of the last two years.
Two additional players elevated to the first team from the 2017 second team, including Denison sophomore attack Kiely Noonan (Wellesley, MA/Wellesley) and Oberlin sophomore defender Emily Berner (Reisterstown, MD/The Park School), while Kenyon sophomore midfielder Maggie Grabowski (Park Ridge, IL/Maine) jumped up to the top team from the 2018 honorable mention squad. The final two players on the top team are making their All-NCAC debut this season, including Allegheny sophomore midfielder Emily Kraus (Sewickley, PA/Quaker Valley) and Kenyon junior attack Cassie Hudson-Heck (Medina, OH/Medina).
Wooster freshman attack Alexa Mellis (Wexford, PA/Pine-Richland) was named the 2018 NCAC Newcomer of the Year as the top player in her first year of collegiate competition after she finished the season with 44 points on 37 goals and seven assists. She scored three or more goals in five different games this season, highlighted by a season-high six-goal effort in a 27-9 win at Whittier on March 17th. Mellis is the first Wooster player to earn the NCAC Newcomer of the Year honor since Cassie Greenbaum in 2011.
Finally, Wooster head coach Elizabeth Ford was named the NCAC Women's Lacrosse Coach of the Year for the second time in her career after also sharing the honor with Kenyon's Jill Boffa in 2007. Ford led the Scots to an overall record of 12-4 in 2018, which included tying with Oberlin for second-place in the final NCAC standings with a 6-2 mark against conference opponents this season. In 13 total seasons at Wooster, Ford owns an overall record of 144-66-1, highlighted by leading the Scots to NCAC titles in 2007, '09 and '10.