The 2012-13 America East season is set to kick off Friday with six of the league's women's soccer teams slated to play, including five-time defending champion Boston University.
The Terriers finished 2011 with a perfect 8-0-0 conference record for the second straight season before upending Albany 2-0 in the America East Championship game. Ranked 23rd in the NSCAA preseason poll, they will open their season against Central Connecticut State at 7 p.m. at Nickerson Field.
Boston U. brings back 19 players, including America East Rookie of the Year Taylor Krebs, from a team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 victory over Harvard. Though they eventually fell 2-0 at the hands of Wake Forest, their victory marked the program's first NCAA victory since a 1-0 defeat of Connecticut in 2005 first round action.
Other America East action on Friday includes the openers for Stony Brook and Vermont, which are projected to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, in this year's conference standings. The Seawolves, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006 last year, will open with a visit to Rhode Island at 7 p.m. Meanwhile the Catamounts, who snapped a four year playoff drought in 2011, play host to Army for a 4 p.m. match.
Elsewhere on Friday, Maine will host Bryant at 3 p.m., Binghamton will travel to Bucknell for a 4 p.m. start and UMBC opens at home against Lafayette at 7 p.m.
The Black Bears will look to Jordan Pellerin and Camile Varin-Tremblay, both All-Rookie selections last year, to help them get back to the conference tournament after missing out in 2011. Binghamton returns junior goalkeeper Carrie Martin, who was one of four America East keepers with a goals against average below 1.00 last season. UMBC looks to turn over a new page under first year head coach Leslie Wray, as the Retrievers try to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2005.
The remaining three teams -- Hartford, Albany and New Hampshire -- all begin their seasons next Friday, Aug. 24th. Those teams are projected to finish second, third and fourth, respectively, in 2012.
Hartford figures to challenge Boston's run of five straight regular season titles, as they boast two All-American returnees in senior Caitlin Alves and junior goalkeeper Erin Quinlan. Their defense again figures to be a strength with Quinlan back, as they allowed a conference low eight goals last season. Hartford will open at home with a 6 p.m. match versus Fairleigh Dickinson.
Albany's run to the America East Championship game last season was fueled by an offense that finished second in points scored and third in goals scored. With five of their top eight scorers back, the attack figures to a focal point once again. The Great Danes will travel to Syracuse for their 4 p.m. opener.
New Hampshire was the league's most disciplined squad in 2011, averaging a conference low seven fouls per match. The quest to extend their streak of 11 straight conference tournament appearances begins with a 1:30 p.m. matchup against Fairfield in the TD Bank Classic.