RICHMOND, Va. – After capturing the program’s first-ever NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship in 2016, four-time defending conference champion Delaware has been picked as the Colonial Athletic Association field hockey favorite in 2017, following a vote by the league’s seven head coaches.

The Blue Hens (23-2) capped a historic title run a year ago winning their final 19 games, while outscoring opponents by a margin of 100-39 over the course of the entire season. UD, which headlined the preseason poll for the fourth consecutive year, totaled 35 points and five first-place votes.

“Being No. 1 in the preseason poll is nice, but numbers don’t mean anything,” remarked seventh-year head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof. “We have to earn that number throughout the season and we’re preparing for a competitive CAA schedule.”

Junior Greta Nauck (Krefeld, Germany/Gymnasium am Moltekeplatz) was chosen as the preseason Player of the Year, returning as the lone CAA player that earned First Team NFHCA All-American status last fall. Nauck led all of Division I in points per game (3.04) and goals per game (1.32) – both program records – tallying 33 goals and 10 assists in all. The forward won the prestigious CWSA Honda Sport Award in field hockey last December, becoming the first recipient of the honor in the sport for the conference since 2002 and just the second-ever for the Blue Hens alongside basketball All-American Elena Delle Donne.

Delaware led the way on the preseason squad with five players, as Nauck was joined by seniors Taylor Lister (Hummelstown, Pa./Lower Dauphin) and Emmeline Oltmans (Baarn, The Netherlands/Het Baarnsch Lyceum) as well as juniors Kiki Bink (Wageningen, The Netherlands/RSG Pantarijn) and Lisa Giezeman (Leidschendam, The Nethlerlands/Sin-Maartens College).

Lister and Oltmans each garnered CAA All-First Team, CAA All-Tournament Team and NCAA All-Tournament Team accolade a season ago. Lister also received NFHCA regional All-American First Team status while Oltmans, the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, collected Second Team honors.

Bink and Giezeman earned CAA All-Second Team nods in 2016 while Giezeman was also recognized as a Second Team NFHCA Regional All-American.

“It’s nice to welcome back seven starters from our run last year, including five preseason honorees,” Van de Kerkhof stated. “They will be very important for us as we build a new team around them with our returners and incoming freshman. We’re having a good preseason so far and we’re excited to go after our goals, but it’s a building process.”

James Madison grabbed 30 points and two first place votes to place second in the preseason poll while William & Mary was third with 28 points. Drexel and Northeastern tied for fourth with 18 points apiece while Hofstra (12) and Towson (6) rounded out the poll.

The Blue Hens kick off the 2017 campaign by traveling to Louisville for contests against Indiana (August 26) and the Cardinals (August 27). Delaware defeated Louisville last season, 1-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Duke University.

The Hens return to Fred P. Rullo Stadium on September 1 for their home opener against Dartmouth. First pass back is slated for 7 p.m. with a pre-game ceremony to unveil the 2016 NCAA Championship banner.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maggie Hayon, Assistant Athletics Communications Director | mhayon@udel.edu | O: 302-831-6389 | C: 302-379-9182