CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Stony Brook University women’s lacrosse program tops the 2013 America East Preseason Coaches’ Poll with 33 points and three of a possible six first-place votes from the conference’s seven head coaches who were not allowed to vote for their own team. The Seawolves finished second in the regular season last year and were runners-up in the 2012 America East Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
Three other teams received first-place votes in the poll that was released Tuesday afternoon. Reigning conference tournament champion Albany and reigning regular-season champion Boston University tied for second with in the poll with 29 points apiece. The Great Danes received a pair of first-place votes while the Terriers received one. UMBC was picked fourth, earning one first-place vote. Vermont (17 points) was next in fifth, followed by New Hampshire (13) and Binghamton (7). Three of the seven teams also welcome first-year head coaches.
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, where the league champion has advanced to the quarterfinal round twice since 2008. The league tournament, held May 3 and 5, will be hosted by the top seed.
Stony Brook (14-5, 5-1 AE) returns 20 letterwinners, all 12 starters, and 96-percent of its goal scoring from a year ago (252 of 263 total goals). The Seawolves finished second in the 2012 regular season before falling to Albany, 9-7, in the America East Championship title game. Under head coach Joe Spallina, who is entering his second season at the helm, the Seawolves had the best turnaround in the nation, winning a program-record 14 games last year after the team had only four victories in 2011. Stony Brook’s trip to the America East title game was the first in program history, while the team also notched its first-ever win over a nationally-ranked opponent, a 15-14 victory over Johns Hopkins. The Seawolves return America East Player of the Year, third-team IWLCA All-American and an Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-American Claire Petersen, who finished sixth in the conference in goals (42), first in assists (59) and first in points (101). Most of those assists went to Demmianne Cook, who returns to the Seawolves after leading the conference in goals with 68 in 2012. The team also welcomes back midfielder Michelle Rubino, who led the conference in draw controls (94), and goalkeepers Frankie Caridi and Hannah Perruccio, who anchored a defense that led the league in goals against average at 9.16 per game.
Albany (12-6, 3-3 AE), the reigning back-to-back America East champions, brings back 14 letterwinners and three America East All-Conference performers from last year’s squad that made the school’s second trip to the NCAA tournament. As the No. 4 seed in last year’s championship, the Great Danes defeated the top two seeds of the tournament in No. 1 seed Boston U. and No. 2 seed Stony Brook to capture the title. Among the returnees include Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-american Ariana Parker, an America East First Team All-Conference selection in 2012. Parker had 39 goals and 15 assists during in sophomore campaign. Fellow attacker Rachael Burek also is back after ranking second on the team in points last year with 42. Burek and Parker combined for more than 34-percent of the team’s scoring.
Boston U. (11-6, 6-0 AE) has won the America East regular-season or tournament titles in seven of the last eight seasons after capturing the regular-season crown last year. The Terriers completed their fifth unbeaten conference regular season, but were upended in the first round of the America East Championship by eventual champion Albany. Danielle Etrasco highlights the list of returnees for the Terriers, as she was an IWLCA All-American a year ago and was more recently selected to the U.S. National Team. An America East All-Conference First Team selection last year, Etrasco finished second in the conference in points with 80, tallying 58 goals to go with 22 assists. 2012 America East Rookie of the Year, Mallory Collins also returns to Boston U. after scoring in every single game during her freshman campaign. The Terriers open their season on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at home against UMass.
UMBC (8-9, 3-3 AE) looks to get back to the America East Championship in 2013 after missing a trip last year for the first time since 2008. The Retrievers return 12 letterwinners and seven starters for first year co-head coaches Amy Appelt and Tony Giro. All-Conference defender Jamie Fahey returns to lead a defense that surrendered just 10.00 goals per game, good for third in the conference. The Retrievers also boast a pair of All-Rookie Team selections in attacker Abby Wilson and goalkeeper Anna Barnett. Wilson finished second among freshmen with 29 points, scoring 22 goals to go with seven assists, while Barnett had an 8.42 goals against average in 14 games.
Vermont (9-8, 2-4 AE) returns the most letterwinners of any America East team, with 22 student-athletes returning to Burlington. The Catamounts were the highest scoring offense in the conference last year, averaging 13.88 goals per game. This was thanks in large part to the teams leading scorer, Sydney Mas, who finished third in the league with 53 goals last season. Vermont opens at Colgate on Feb. 16.
New Hampshire (5-11, 2-4 AE) missed the America East Championship for the first time since 1996, breaking a streak of 15-straight trips after not qualifying last season. The Wildcats will be led by first-year head coach Sarah Albrecht, who won two NCAA national titles as a player at Northwestern and was recently selected to the U.S. National Team. Midfielder Laura Puccia led the Wildcats with 33 goals and was a unanimous All-Rookie Team selection last year. New Hampshire opens play on Feb. 16 at Hofstra.
Binghamton (3-13, 0-6 AE) is the last of the four America East women’s lacrosse teams who will have a first year head coach, as interim coach Stephanie Allen takes over in Vestal. The Bearcats lost just three starters to graduation and return their top four scorers in Kimberly McGeever, Katherine Hunsberger, Kristen Stone and Casey Bulman. Binghamton starts the season at St. Francis (Pa.) on Feb. 23.
2013 Preseason Poll
Team (1st-place votes), Total
1. Stony Brook (3), 33
2t. Albany (2), 29
2t. Boston U. (1), 29
4. UMBC (1), 19
5. Vermont, 17
6. New Hampshire, 13
7. Binghamton, 7