Lacrosse: Fornia, Gross, Hawkins and Regan named to Preseason All-AAC team

Four Vanderbilt Commodores were named to the Preseason All-AAC team on Tuesday, while the team was picked to finish second in the conference.

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Gabby Fornia cuts to the goal against Notre Dame in 2020. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Simon Gibbs, Sports Editor

Four Vanderbilt lacrosse players—senior attacker Gabby Fornia, junior midfielder Bri Gross, senior defender Melissa Hawkins and senior defender Halle Regan—were named to the 2021 Preseason All-AAC team, the conference announced in a press release on Tuesday.

The Commodores were picked to finish second in the conference, falling just seven votes short of the first-place Florida Gators in the coaches’ poll.

2021 marks the second-straight season Fornia was a unanimous preseason all-conference selection, after her junior season saw her lead Vanderbilt with 17 assists, good for second-most in the conference. Fornia also tallied 12 goals in nine games last season before COVID-19 forced Vanderbilt to cancel the remainder of its spring season. She enters 2021 just 19 assists shy of becoming the program record holder.

Gross’ selection comes after a standout sophomore campaign during which she notched 25 goals—including six hat tricks—in nine games, which led all Vanderbilt players. Gross also had a season-high 11 draw controls, a hat trick and four points in Vanderbilt’s early-season upset over No. 10 Denver, their first top-10 win in six years. The midfielder enters her junior season just 18 draw controls short of moving into top-ten in program history.

While Fornia and Gross were essential pieces of Vanderbilt’s offense in 202o, Hawkins and Regan were pillars of the Commodore defense, causing a combined 29 turnovers and tallying 39 ground balls in just nine games. In 2019, Hawkins was named second team All-AAC for her contributions to Vanderbilt’s backline; Regan, on the other hand, led the AAC in both ground balls (25) and forced turnovers (15) last season, causing three turnovers in  Vanderbilt’s upset over Denver.

The Commodores kick off their 2021 campaign on Saturday, traveling to South Bend to face the No. 2 Notre Dame Irish, a program that happened to be their final opponent in 2020 prior to the shutdown.