READY TO REPEAT: Hanover’s Anna Cornacchione celebrates after scoring a goal in last’s year’s HCAC championship game. The sophomore from Cincinnati was the named the league’s regular-season and tournament MVP as well as All-America status and is a big reason why the Panthers were picked to repeat as HCAC champs this season. (2013 Courier file photo by David Campbell)
READY TO REPEAT: Hanover’s Anna Cornacchione celebrates after scoring a goal in last’s year’s HCAC championship game. The sophomore from Cincinnati was the named the league’s regular-season and tournament MVP as well as All-America status and is a big reason why the Panthers were picked to repeat as HCAC champs this season. (2013 Courier file photo by David Campbell)
Hanover College's women's soccer team, which reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, has been picked as the overwhelming favorite to win the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in voting by league coaches.

The Panthers received nine of the 10 first-place votes and 98 points in total. Transylvania was second in voting with 88 points.

Manchester was third in the poll with 82 points and the final first-place vote and was followed by Rose-Hulman (65 points, Franklin (48), Mount St. Joseph (45 ), Defiance (42), Earlham (33), Bluffton (30) and Anderson (19).

Hanover finished 2013 with an 8-0-1 conference record and an 18-2-2 mark overall, winning an outright league title. The Panthers defeated Transylvania in the HCAC tournament championship to earn a NCAA tourney berth. Hanover beat Salem (N.C.) 2-1 in the first round, but fell 1-0 at Thomas More (Ky.) to end the season.

The 2014 version of the Panthers return two players that earned first-team All-HCAC honors last fall, including the HCAC Offensive Most Valuable Player. Forward Anna Cornacchione, a sophomore from Cincinnati, returns after leading the conference in goals as a freshman. Cornacchione totaled 32 points on the season after scoring 14 goals and contributing four assists.

Midfielder Rachel Alvis, a junior from Cincinnati, added five goals and a team-high eight assists during her sophomore campaign.

In addition to Cornacchione and Alvis, three other Panthers were listed as players to watch by the conference: Forward Erin Hancock, a senior from Amelia, Ohio; back Megan Insley, a junior from Washington, Ohio; and forward Elanie Simpson, a sophomore from Lexington, Ky.

Transylvania University finished third with a 7-1-1 conference record last season and finished 14-5-2 overall. Transy earned an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament, dropping a 3-0 decision at Illinois Wesleyan in the first round.

Transylvania returns one second-team All-HCAC selection from last season's squad and will have to replace the production from three first-team selections who graduated. Forward Alyssa Kruse, a senior from Lexington, Ky., led the Pioneers in goals (7) and points (17) as a junior, earning the second-team honors.

Manchester will look to challenge for an HCAC title in 2014. The Spartans finished second in the conference race last fall with an 8-1 mark (12-7-1 overall), but lost to Transylvania in the HCAC tournament semifinals.

The Spartans will have two returning first-team All-HCAC selections from the 2013 team. Forward Katelyn Barta, a senior from Griffith, and forward Brandy Crouse, a junior from Cleves, Ohio, will strive to pace the offense. Barta totaled 35 points with 13 goals and a conference-best nine assists, while Crouse added 10 goals for the black and gold.

Franklin favorite in football

Franklin College has been selected as the favorite to win a fifth-straight league football crown in 2014, according to a poll of the HCAC's nine head coaches.

The Grizzlies shared the title with Rose-Hulman last year after each posted 7-1 league marks. Franklin, which was 8-4 overall in 2013, held off Mount St. Joseph in the preseason poll receiving 79 points and seven first place votes.

Mount placed second in the voting with 65 points and the final two first place votes, while Hanover finished third with 50 points. Rose-Hulman (48), Defiance (48), Bluffton (43), Manchester (34), Earlham (26) and Anderson (12) round out the poll.

Hanover placed fourth in the league standings last fall with a 5-3 mark (5-5 overall).

Running back Spencer Corrao, a senior from New Albany and Providence High School, led the Panthers with 684 yards and six touchdowns on 142 carries last fall to lead the offense.

Defensive lineman Jake Stilwell, a junior from Pendleton, enters 2014 as a D3football.com Preseason All-American. As a sophomore, Stilwell totaled 50 tackles, 15 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles to lead the Panthers' defensive unit.

Also earning player to watch status is: Offensive lineman Ryan Hahn, a senior from Fort Thomas, Ky.; offensive lineman Kevin Schlenker, a senior from Anderson; linebacker Justin Magaw, a senior from West Palm Beach, Fla.; linebacker Vince Peiffer, a senior from Franklin; defensive back Jamal Edwards, a senior from Indianapolis; and wide receiver Robert Klotz, a senior from Cincinnati.

Defiance leads in volleyball

Defiance has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2014 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference volleyball championship after picking up four first-place votes and 86 points total.

Bluffton placed second in the poll with 84 points and four first place votes, while Mount St. Joseph is picked to finish third in the conference standings this fall with 82 points and one first place vote. Transylvania (72 points), Hanover (57), Rose-Hulman (56, one first place vote), Franklin (32), Anderson (30), Manchester (26) and Earlham (21) round out the poll.

Five Hanover Panthers were listed as players to watch by the league including junior libero Maddie Hartman, a Madison High School product. The rest were: middle hitter Sarah Hasewinkel, a senior from Sheridan; outside hitter Rachel Hasewinkel, a junior from Sheridan; specialist Nicole Blevins, a junior from McCordsville, Ind.; and outside hitter Rachel Regenauer, a junior from Pewee Valley, Ky.