CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On the heels of its sixth straight America East Women’s Lacrosse Championship in 2010, Boston University tops the 2011 preseason coaches’ poll. This year’s poll is not as clearcut as the Terriers’ past dominance may indicate though, with four different programs receiving first-place votes.
The Terriers earned 33 points and three out of a possible six first-place votes as head coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams. Last year’s regular-season champion University at Albany received 29 points and two first-place votes, while UMBC (27 points) and University of New Hampshire (23) followed closely behind, each garnering one first-place nod.
University of Vermont (17), Stony Brook University (12) and Binghamton University (6) rounded out the seven-team poll.
The top four teams in the conference will advance to the America East Championship with the winner of the tournament receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship. The league tournament, held May 6 and 8, will be hosted by the top seed.
Boston U. (11-9 overall record in 2010, 5-1 in America East) lost its one-two offensive scoring combo in Traci Landy and McKinley Curro who combined for 103 goals and 127 points last season. The underclassman midfielder duo of junior Hannah Frey (Pearl River, N.Y./Nanuet) and sophomore Kristen Mogavero (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) may fill that void after finishing third and fourth on the team last season with 27 and 19 goals, respectively. The return of senior attack Erica Baumgartner (Silver Spring, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel), who sat out last season due to injury, will be key as she has dished out 89 career assists, including 39 as a junior in 2009. The Terriers have two first-team conference honorees on the defensive end in senior midfielder Rachel Collins (Winchester, Mass./Winchester) and senior defender Corcoran Downey (Ellicott City, Md./Centennial). Collins, who was named Most Outstanding Player at the America East Championship, compiled team-leading totals of 46 ground balls and 46 draw controls in addition to 21 points (12 G, 9 A), while Downey caused a team-high 27 turnovers and collected 35 ground balls. With the graduation of second-team all-conference goalkeeper Rachel Klein, sophomore Kim Elsworth (Ballston Lake, N.Y./Shenendehowa) is the only Terrier netminder with any collegiate experience, standing in between the pipes for 86:46 spanning over six games in her rookie campaign.
Albany (13-3, 6-0) is coming off its finest season as a Division I program, winning an America East regular-season championship, finishing second in the nation with 15.06 goals per game, and making its first-ever appearance in the national top-20. The Great Danes return America East Player of the Year Nikki Branchini (Guilderland, N.Y./Guilderland), a senior defender who finished third nationally with 4.93 draw controls per game, sixth with 3.27 ground balls per game and ninth with 2.07 caused turnovers per game, topping the conference in all three categories. Branchini helped Albany to the sixth-best scoring defense a year ago, which may be even more important this year with the top four goal scorers from 2010 graduated. Senior attack Taylor Frink (Baldwinsville, N.Y./C.W. Baker) led the conference last season with 3.44 points per game, including 30 goals and 25 assists, and along with classmate Mel Rorie (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn), return as the Great Danes’ top returning goal-scorers. Like Boston U., Albany lost its top goalkeeper and will likely look to sophomore Kim Sandtorv (Centereach, N.Y./Centereach) to fill the void.
UMBC (11-7, 3-3) had a breakout season, reaching the America East title game under the guidance of first-year head coach Kelly Berger, one of the youngest coaches in Division I. Berger returns three all-conference second-team selections from last season, including Rookie of the Year defender Jamie Fahey (Baldwin, Md./Loch Raven) who totaled 39 ground balls, 35 draw controls and 10 caused turnovers. The Retrievers finished second in offense behind Albany with over 12 goals per game and have four 30-goal scorers back in 2011. Included in that group is second-team all-conference senior attack Erika Braerman (Fallston, Md./Fallston) who finished with 54 points (3.00 per game), tied for sixth in the conference, on 32 goals and a team-high 22 helpers.
New Hampshire (10-7, 4-2) fell to the Terriers in the semifinals of the 2010 America East Championship after finishing third in the regular season. With four returning all-conference performers, including two recognized on the first team, the Wildcats have experience at every position. Junior attack JoJo Curro (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan) and junior midfielder Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y./Bay Shore) recorded 30 and 25 goals, respectively, last year and senior defender Allie Duclos (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor) registered 36 ground balls, 32 draw controls and 15 caused turnovers. Kate Gunts (Wilton, Conn./Wilton) and Kathleen O’Keefe (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) split time in goal and combined for 10 wins.
Vermont (4-11, 1-5) senior midfielder Megan MacDonald (Wayland, Mass./Wayland), a second-team honoree, does a little of everything for the Catamounts. MacDonald, the 2008 Rookie of the Year, led the team with 36 points (23 G, 13 A), 47 ground balls, 48 draw controls, and caused the second-most turnovers on the team with 21. America East First Team defender Caitie Izzo (Longmeadow, Mass./Longmeadow), a junior, collected 37 ground balls and a team-high 31 caused turnovers, which ranked ninth in the country.
Stony Brook (3-12, 1-5) has a heavy senior presence with nine seniors on the roster, including all three of last year’s top goal-scorers and starting goalkeeper Mickey Cahill (Bay Shore, N.Y./Bay Shore/Boston College). Cahill led America East with 9.07 saves per game last year, and recorded a .453 save percentage while playing all 15 games. Senior midfielder Melissa Cook (Bay Shore, N.Y./Bay Shore) led the team in goals (29), points (37) and ground balls (29).
Binghamton (2-13, 1-5) has experience in senior midfielder Beth Moore (Hauppauge, N.Y./Hauppauge) and senior attack Ali Castiglie (Middle Island, N.Y./Longwood) who finished with 39 and 32 goals, respectively, last season. Moore also topped the Bearcats with 37 ground balls, which ranked third in the conference, to go along with 23 draw controls and 23 caused turnovers. Senior defender Siobhan Menz (Webster, NY/Webster), honored on the all-conference second team, is also back after leading the team with 25 draw controls.
2011 Preseason Poll
Rank Team (1st-place votes) Total
1. Boston U. (3) 33
2. Albany (2) 29
3. UMBC (1) 27
4. New Hampshire (1) 23
5. Vermont 17
6. Stony Brook 12
7. Binghamton 6