CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Coming off one of its best seasons in program history, Boston University is again favored to finish the regular season atop the America East women’s soccer standings as the Terriers were tabbed the 2012 preseason favorite on Monday afternoon. Boston U., a unanimous selection by the league’s head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own team, received all eight possible first-place votes for 64 points, while University of Hartford was picked second after receiving 56 points and one first-place vote.
University at Albany, last year’s runner up, came in third with 48 points, followed by University of New Hampshire in fourth with 36 points. Just three points separated the fifth and sixth place squads, Stony Brook University and University of Vermont, which finished with 33 and 30 points, respectively. University of Maine (25 points), Binghamton University (24) and UMBC (8) rounded out the nine-team poll.
The six-team America East Championship begins with quarterfinal action on Oct. 25 and continues with the semifinal round on Oct. 28. The conference champion will be crowned on either Nov. 3 or 4 with the winner of the tournament receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship, where America East teams have 11 all-time wins.
Boston U. (19-3-1 overall, 8-0-0 America East in 2011) will bring back 19 players from last year’s squad that won a program-record 19 games, its fifth straight America East title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship. Reigning America East Rookie of the Year Taylor Krebs scored six goals, including three game winners, last season and will be relied on to carry an offense that found the back of the net 54 times in 2011. The Terriers, who are ineligible for the America East tournament, are ranked 23rd in the NSCAA preseason poll and begin their season on Aug. 17 against Central Conn. State.
Hartford (13-2-3, 6-1-1) is coming off its best season since winning the league in 2006 as it went unbeaten over its first 16 games last year. Leading the Hawks in 2012 will be a pair of All-Americans in senior Caitlin Alves and junior goalkeeper Erin Quinlan. Alves tallied 25 points on 10 goals and five assists a year ago while Quinlan, the reigning America East Goalkeeper of the Year, allowed just seven goals all year and led all keepers in the nation with a .932 save percentage. The Hawks open their season Aug. 24 at home against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Albany (9-10-1, 5-2-1) reached the America East Championship game for the first time last season and looks to take the next step in 2012. Five of the Great Danes’ top eight scorers from 2011 return, including Chelsea DeVerna, a three-time second-team all-conference selection. Jacky Ubert is expected to get the majority of the minutes in the net after going 7-3-1 as the starter down the stretch last year. Albany opens play at Syracuse on Aug. 24.
New Hampshire (5-12-2, 3-4-1) will look to extend its streak of 11 straight America East Championship appearances and also win its first league title in 2012. The Wildcats bring back 16 letterwinners and eight starters from last year’s team, including Monique LaMotte, a two-time all-league midfielder, and leading scorer Megan Ledwith (3g, 2a, 8pts). UNH kicks off play on Aug. 24 against Fairfield in the TD Bank Classic.
Stony Brook (4-12-1, 2-5-1) is looking to rebound in 2012 after missing the conference tournament for the first time since 2006 last year. The Seawolves, who start their season Aug. 17 at Rhode Island, return 16 letterwinners including second-team All-America East midfielder Sa’sha Kershaw.
Vermont (5-10-4, 3-4-1) qualified for the America East Championship for the first time since 2006 last year and hopes to build on that feat this season as 11 starters are back, including junior all-league defender Alexa DeMaio. The Cats began play Aug. 17 vs. Army in their first-ever contest at Virtue Field.
Maine (5-9-1, 2-6-0) reached the conference title game just two seasons ago, but failed to qualify for the tournament last year. A pair of All-Rookie choices, Jordan Pellerin and Camile Varin-Tremblay, headline 10 returnees for the Black Bears, who open their season at Bryant on Aug. 17.
Binghamton (7-10-1, 3-4-1) reached the semifinals of the America East Championship for the fourth time in five years and is equipped to do so again in 2012 by bringing back 23 letterwinners. The Bearcats will host Bucknell in their season opener Aug. 17.
UMBC (0-14-3, 0-6-2) begins its first season under Leslie Wray, who takes over as the program’s head coach. Wray will look to senior Rachel McKee, a second-team all-league choice last year, to lead the Retrievers, who begin play Aug. 17 against Lafayette.
For more information on America East women’s soccer, including schedules, stats and record book log on to www.AmericaEast.com.
ABOUT THE AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE: Into its fourth decade of operation, America East has evolved into one of the most comprehensive NCAA Division I conferences with a commitment to broad-based, competitive athletics programs, complementing the academic integrity and missions of the member institutions. Progressive in its approach to its more than 3,400 student-athletes, America East recognizes champions in each of its 20 sports and also conducts the nation’s most comprehensive academic recognition program for student-athletes. With a geographic footprint covering the Mid-Atlantic to Northeast regions of the United States, America East strives to develop champions in academics, athletics and leadership at its nine member institutions: University at Albany, Binghamton University, Boston University, University of Hartford, University of Maine, UMBC, University of New Hampshire, Stony Brook University and University of Vermont.
2012 Preseason Poll
Rank Team (1st-place votes) Points
1. Boston U. (8) 64
2. Hartford (1) 56
3. Albany 48
4. New Hampshire 36
5. Stony Brook 33
6. Vermont 30
7. Maine 25
8. Binghamton 24
9. UMBC 8