Boston U. The Unanimous Choice To Win Fifth Straight League Title
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Coming off a season in which it won its fourth straight America East women’s soccer title, Boston University is again the preseason favorite to be crowned conference champion in 2011. Boston U., a unanimous selection amongst the league’s head coaches, received 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 runner-up after receiving 56 points and one first-place vote.
University at Albany, which is coming off its best season at the Division I level, and University of Maine, last year’s runner-up, were tied for third with 39 points. University of New Hampshire and University of Hartford followed closely in fifth and sixth with 36 and 35 points, respectively. Binghamton University (26 points), UMBC (17) and University of Vermont (12) rounded out the nine-team poll.
The top six teams in the conference will advance to the America East Championship, which begins with quarterfinal action on Oct. 27 and continues with the semifinal round on Oct. 30. The conference champion will be crowned on either Nov. 5 or 6 with the winner of the tournament receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship.
Boston U. (16-6-0 overall, 8-0-0 America East in 2010) will bring eight starters back and 16 letterwinners from a squad that went unbeaten in America East play and shut out 13 straight opponents last season, which is tied for the second-longest streak in NCAA history. The Terriers, who scored 50 goals and allowed just 12 last season, return three of the conference’s major award winners from a year ago, including senior forward Jessica Luscinski (Bedford, N.H./Trinity), who ranked second in America East with 31 points on 12 goals and seven assists last year. The Terriers, who have made six straight NCAA appearances, will face four other teams that reached the NCAAs last season, including College Cup participant Boston College (Aug. 19).
Stony Brook (6-10-2, 5-2-1) welcomes back 17 letterwinners from last year’s squad, including 91 percent of its scoring output. Senior forward Dominique Adamo, a first-team All-America East midfielder in 2011, who ranked sixth among league leaders with 17 points, will again carry the Seawolf attack. Senior back Alexis Lindo, a second-team all-conference selection a year ago, will lead the Stony Brook defense along with sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Morales, one of four freshman backstops to earn America East all-rookie honors last season. The Seawolves open their season at Siena, an NCAA Championship participant last season, on Aug. 19.
Albany (10-8-2, 4-2-2) hopes to build off a season in which it had the program’s highest win total since 1988. The Great Danes bring back 21 letterwinners from that squad, including five all-conference players highlighted by first-teamer Rebecca Lee, a senior midfielder. Second-team selections Shayla Bergeron, a senior midfielder who ranked third among conference leaders with nine goals, and Chelsea DeVerna, a junior midfielder who finished with six points, will be asked to carry the offense again. Defensively, the Great Danes recorded the second-highest number of shutouts in the league with nine. Albany opens against Sacred Heart on Aug. 26.
Maine (9-9-0, 3-5-0) reached its first America East Championship game since 2006 last year and became the first No. 6 seed to ever reach the league’s title game. The Black Bears lose just two starters from that squad and return three of their four top scorers in Carolyne Nellis (4 g, 2 a), Courtney Harnais (3 g, 0 a) and Lisa Bijman (2 g, 0 a), an all-rookie choice last year. Junior goalkeeper Meagan Price-Leibenzeder, who already has 32 career starts under her belt, will run Maine’s defense. The Black Bears open their campaign against Charleston Southern on Aug. 26.
New Hampshire (8-8-4, 4-3-1) reached the conference tournament for a record 10th straight year in 2011 but is still in search of its first-ever league title. UNH will bring back five of its top six scorers from a year ago, including second-team all-conference selections Chelsea Kuss, who ranked fourth among league leaders with six assists, and second-team all-conference standout Monique Lamotte. Senior back Kelly Mooney, a first-team honoree last year, will lead the Wildcat defense along with sophomore Erica Correa, an all-rookie selection last year. New Hampshire opens its campaign against UMass on Aug. 23.
Hartford (8-6-5, 4-3-1), which has won a league-best 10 conference titles, is in search of its first crown since 2006. The Hawks will be led by senior goalkeeper Lauren Brodeur, who ranked third among conference leaders with a 1.13 GAA last year, and helped her team allow just 24 goals, which was second only to Boston U. Junior Amelia Pereria, a first-team All-America East choice last year, will lead the offense after tying for seventh among league leaders with 15 points last year. The Hawks open their season on Aug. 19 at Old Dominion.
Binghamton (4-11-2, 2-4-2) is looking to return to the America East Championship after missing the tournament for the first time since 2003 last year. The Bearcats bring back 22 letterwinners and 10 starters from last year, including five of six players who found the back of the net. Junior Sarah Furminger, who tallied a team-best 10 points last year, will lead an offense looking to improve after scoring a league-tying worst 12 goals last season. The Bearcats open their season Aug. 19 against Buffalo and face Siena on Sept. 11.
UMBC (2-14-1, 1-7-0) is trying to reach the league tournament for the first time since 2005 and returns 15 players from last year’s team. The Retrievers welcome back seven starters, including sophomores Amy Savage and Lauren Kadet, who both earned America East All-Rookie honors last year. Savage tied for the UMBC lead in points with six and Kadet played 16 games in goal and led the league with 6.75 saves per game. UMBC starts its season at American on Aug. 19.
Vermont (2-16-0, 1-7-0) returns 23 letterwinners and eight starters from last year’s team which hopes to reach the America East Championship for the first time since 2006. First-year head coach Kristi Lefebvre will look for sophomore Haley Marks to build off a solid freshman season in which she netted a team-best five goals and earned America East All-Rookie honors. The Catamounts begin their season at Colgate on Aug. 21 and visit Boston College on Sept. 4.
2011 Preseason Poll
Rank Team (1st-place votes) Points
1. Boston U. (8) 64
2. Stony Brook (1) 56
T-3. Albany 39
5. New Hampshire 36
6. Hartford 35
7. Binghamton 26
8. UMBC 17
9. Vermont 12