CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Coming off a season that saw America East produce the third-highest conference field hockey RPI in the nation, Boston University has slightly edged University at Albany as the preseason favorite to top the conference’s field hockey standings in 2012. The vote, which was made by the conference’s head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own team, was announced Friday morning.
2012 Preseason Poll
Boston U. earned 23 points and three out of a possible five first-place votes, while Albany followed just one point behind with 22 points and garnered the other three first-place tallies.
University of Maine came in third with 16 points, while University of New Hampshire, the reigning conference champion, was tabbed fourth with 14 points. Fairfield University (9 points) and University of Vermont (6) round out the six-team poll.
The 2012 campaign kicks off next week with all six teams opening on either Aug. 24 or 25. Four teams will qualify for the 2012 America East Championship, which will be played at the highest seed on November 2 and 4. The league champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Field Hockey Championship.
Boston U. (11-9 overall, 4-1 America East) shared the regular-season title and was one of four America East squads to finish the 2011 season in the national rankings (13th). The Terriers return their top four scorers from last year’s squad, including Jacinda McLeod, the two-team America East Defensive Player of the Year and leading scorer Macey Gaumond (10G, 4A), a second-team all-league choice a year ago. Boston U., which begins play at Delaware on Aug. 24, will welcome five newcomers to the program, including junior transfer Ella Gunson, who helped New Zealand to a fourth-place finish at the Olympics.
Albany (13-7, 3-2), the league champion in 2008 and 2010, finished the 2011 season ranked 14th and brings back several key players from that squad. Goalkeeper Kristi Troch, the reigning two-time America East Goalkeeper of the Year, ranked ninth nationally with a 1.34 goals-against average and helped Albany rank ninth as a team in GAA. Offensively, the Great Danes will look to Corinne McConnville, an All-American a year ago, after she ranked among America East leaders with 12 goals and four assists last year. Albany kicks off its 2012 season at Rutgers on Aug. 24.
Maine (16-4, 3-2) had one of its best seasons in school history a year ago, peaking at No. 10 in the national rankings before finishing 17th. The Black Bears return 11 players from that team, which led the nation averaging 3.45 goals per game. America East Co-Rookie of the Year Holly Stewart is the team’s top returning scorer as she tallied 30 points on 12 goals and six assists in 2011. Maine commences its 2012 season at home against Boston College on Aug. 25
New Hampshire (17-5, 4-1) swept the regular-season and tournament titles for the first time in school history last year en route to finishing the season ranked ninth in the country. The Wildcats will rely on Megan Bozek, a second-team all-conference standout, to lead the backfield and Emma Erler, who ranked fourth among league leaders in assists last year, to carry the offense. UNH begins play at home against UMass on Aug. 24.
Fairfield (9-8, 1-4) enjoyed its first winning season since becoming an associate member for field hockey in 2007. The Stags, who open their season at Hofstra on Aug. 24, welcome back 14 letterwinners and seven starters from last year’s team, including Felecitas Heinen, a second-team all-conference performer last season.
Vermont (6-11, 0-5) is in search of its first America East Championship appearance since 2007 and brings back six starters from last year’s team, including two of the team’s top three scorers in Colleen Slaughter (8G) and Taylor Silvestro (3G, 2A). The Catamounts begin their season Aug. 24 vs. James Madison.
For more information on America East field hockey, 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.
Rank Team (1st-place votes) Total
1. Boston University (3) 23
2. Albany (3) 22
3. Maine 16
4. New Hampshire 14
5. Fairfield 9
6. Vermont 6