CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — For the seventh consecutive year, Boston University has been tabbed the preseason favorite to win the America East Women’s Soccer Championship, as determined by a vote of the conference’s head coaches. Boston U., the three-time defending league champion, was a unanimous selection, receiving all eight possible first-place votes (coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team) for 64 points, while Stony Brook University was picked to finish as runners-up after receiving 52 points and one first-place vote.
Binghamton University, runners up in 2009, was chosen third (47 points), while University at Albany finished closely behind in fourth (44). University of Maine was picked fifth (37), followed by University of New Hampshire (29), University of Hartford (25), University of Vermont (15) and UMBC (11).
The 2010 season kicks off Friday, Aug. 20 with three games. Boston U. hosts No. 12 South Carolina, while Stony Brook opens with No. 18 Rutgers and UMBC hosts Delaware State. Hartford and Maine also start play this weekend with games against Long Island and Iona, respectively, on Sunday, Aug. 22. The conference slate begins on Sept. 26 with four games, while a rematch of last year’s title game will take place between the Terriers and Bearcats on Oct. 17 in Vestal. The top six teams in the conference will advance to the America East Championship, which will take place Oct. 28-Nov. 6 or 7. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship.
Boston University (14-6-2 overall, 7-1-0 America East in 2009) welcomes back five starters and 18 letterwinners from a squad that scored 43 goals and allowed just 15 last season. Junior forward Jessica Luscinski (Bedford, N.H./Trinity), a first-team All-America East selection last year, is the league’s top returning scorer after tallying six goals and a league-best eight assists in 2009. She was joined on the first team last year by senior midfielder Shauna Kelleher (Canton, Mass./Fontbonne), who Boston U. will rely on more heavily this season after the departure of the 2009 America East Midfielder of the Year Emily Pallotta. The Terriers, who will face four ranked opponents during the non-conference season including No. 2 Stanford (Aug. 29), No. 7 Boston College (Sept. 3) and No. 17 Virginia (Sept. , will be seeking their eighth America East title and sixth straight NCAA appearance under six-time Coach of the Year Nancy Feldman.
Stony Brook (7-10-2, 5-2-1) brings back 13 players that started at least one game last season, including nine who scored goals. Sophomore midfielder Sa’sha Kershaw (Baltimore, Md./Loch Raven), an all-rookie choice last year, is expected to have a big year after ranking sixth among league leaders with 14 points as a freshman. The Seawolves, who ranked third in America East with 1.26 goals per game, return 66.7 percent of their scoring output. Stony Brook, who tied nationally-ranked Rutgers last season, will also face No. 16 Maryland on Sept. 5.
Binghamton (9-7-2, 6-2-0) will look to build on the momentum created last season when it went 5-2-1 over the last month and reached the conference title game for the first time since 2004. The Bearcats welcome back 20 letterwinners and seven starters from that squad, including all-rookie performers Jamie Holliday (Apalachin, N.Y./Maine-Endwell) and Emily Pape (East Northport, N.Y./Northport). The Bearcats open their season Aug. 27 at Fairfield.
Albany (8-10-1, 3-4-0) is coming of its best season at the Division I level after reaching the America East tournament for the first time in 2009. The Great Danes return a league-best four all-conference players in second-team selections Chelsea and Maggie DeVerna (Setauket, N.Y./Ward Melville), Rebecca Lee (Selkirk, N.Y./Bethlehem Central) and Casey Marks (Cortland, N.Y./Cortland). Head coach Mary-Frances Monroe, whose staff earned Co-Coaching Staff of the Year accolades last season, leads her team against UNLV to open its season on Aug. 27.
Maine (9-5-3, 5-2-1) loses just six players from a squad that reached the semifinals of the America East Championship for the sixth time in seven years last season. The Black Bears ranked second in both goals per game (1.82 gpg) and GAA (0.96) a year ago and while they must replace the scoring of 2009 Striker of the Year Laura Martel, they welcome back sophomore goalkeeper Meagan Price-Leibenzeder (Surrey, British Columbia/Clayton Heights), an all-rookie choice last year. After opening with the Gaels, Maine will travel to Fordham (Aug. 24).
Hartford (6-10-2, 2-5-1), which has won a league-best 10 conference titles, missed the league tournament for just the fourth time in 16 years last season. The Hawks bring back 15 letterwinners from a team that ranked fourth in America East in both goals per game (1.11) and GAA (1.19). Junior forward Breeanna Robinson (East Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) ranked ninth among league leaders with 12 points and headlines seven returning starters.
New Hampshire (4-14-1, 3-5-0) will look to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish despite reaching the conference tournament for a record ninth straight year. Second-team all-conference selections Monique Lamotte (Tampa, Fla./Freedom) and Kelly Mooney (Canton, Mass./Canton) lead 19 returning letterwinners and six starters. UNH starts its 2010 season by hosting Rhode Island on Aug. 24 and welcomes defending Ivy champion Harvard to Durham on Sept. 4.
Vermont (1-13-3, 1-5-2), which is seeking its first America East Championship appearance since 2005, returns 20 letterwinners and eight starters from last year’s team. The Catamounts hope for big things out of sophomore Jess Herbst (Webster, N.Y./Webster Schroeder), an all-rookie selection last season, who was named a player to watch in America East by TopDrawerSoccer.com. UVM begins its season Aug. 27 against Rider in the TD Bank Classic.
UMBC (2-14-1, 1-7-0) returns 13 letterwinners and nine starters to a team in search of its first postseason berth since 2005. The Retrievers, who face defending MAAC champion Loyola on Sept. 25, will be paced by senior midfielder Sandra Vacarino (Mantua, N.J./Clearview Regional), the team’s leading scorer in 2009 (4 goals, 2 assists).
2010 Preseason Poll Rank Team (1st-place votes) Total 1. Boston U. (8) 64 2. Stony Brook (1) 52 3. Binghamton 47 4. Albany 44 5. Maine 37 6. New Hampshire 29 7. Hartford 25 8. Vermont 15 9. UMBC 11