Aug. 19, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - American defeated Boston University in the 2013 Patriot League Field Hockey Championship, and the teams are being picked to battle it out again this season as the Eagles topped the Terriers for first place in the sport's preseason poll announced on Tuesday.
The Eagles took home eight first-place votes and totaled 68 points to beat out the Terriers in the ranking, with BU bringing in six first-place votes and 66 points. Bucknell (47) edged Lafayette (46) in the next two spots, followed by Colgate (32), Lehigh (19) and Holy Cross (16).
Boston University junior midfielder/forward Sofi Laurito was named the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Lafayette senior midfielder/defender Brittany Blass took Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year recognition for the second straight season.
Laurito and Blass are among eight returning first-team All-Patriot League selections, all of whom made the Preseason All-Patriot League squad on Tuesday. Other first-team All-Patriot Leaguers from last season who earned a spot on the preseason team were American senior defender Grace Wilson, Boston University senior goalkeeper Valentina Cerda Eimbcke, Bucknell senior midfielder Kelsey Mucelli, Colgate senior forward Eliana Brown, Lafayette senior defender Jenna Seybert and Lehigh sophomore forward Marissa Glatt. The preseason squad also included American senior forward Carly Atchison, Boston University sophomore forward Hester van der Laan and Bucknell senior defender Liz Wills, who were each second-team All-Patriot League selections in 2013.
The voting for both the preseason poll and All-Patriot League Team was conducted by field hockey head coaches and sports information directors, who were not permitted to vote for their own team or student-athletes.
American (15-6, 6-0 Patriot League in 2013) earned its ninth title in 11 seasons, and first since 2010, by going unbeaten in the regular season before defeating Lafayette in the semifinals and Boston University in the championship of the Patriot League Field Hockey Tournament. The Eagles finished the regular season at No. 18 in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll and went on to the NCAA Tournament. American has reason to believe that success can be attained again in 2014 as the Eagles return three All-Patriot League players from last season in Wilson, Atchison and Rebecca Treharne, a second-team selection. Wilson tied for third in the League with 10 goals, while Atchison led the way with 11 assists. The biggest challenge will be replacing Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Shelly Montgomery as well as forward Alex McMackin and goalkeeper Ashley Dalisera, who were both All-Patriot League selections in 2013. The Eagles led the Patriot League in both scoring average (2.41) and goals against average (1.18) last season, and posted a shutout in six of their eight games against League foes.
Boston University (13-7, 5-1 PL) fell to American in both the regular season and championship in its inaugural season in the Patriot League, but the Terriers won all of their other games against League competition. BU returns a plethora of talent including Laurito, Cerda Eimbcke, van der Laan and Amanda Cassera, last season's Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Laurito and Cassera shared the team lead with eight goals apiece, while van der Laan had four goals and five assists and Cerda Eimbcke topped the League in goals against average (1.32), save percentage (.780) and shutouts (six). The Terriers will have to overcome the loss of Ysi Schieb, the 2013 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, as well as All-League selections Madeleine Hackett and Anne Fruitema.
Bucknell (8-10, 4-2 PL) has finished no lower than third in the League standings for six consecutive seasons, and tries to keep it that way with a handful of key players back. Mucelli and Wills each earned All-Patriot League recognition, while Kiersten Sydnor and Abby Watson tallied six goals apiece. There are also holes to fill, as Rachel Misko and Leigh Hillman depart after combining for 17 goals and Vickie Resh after earning first-team All-Patriot League honors last season. The Bison will get to host the other top teams in the preseason poll, welcoming American, Boston University and Lafayette for three of their first four Patriot League games.
Lafayette (6-12, 3-3 PL) slipped to fourth in the standings after winning consecutive Patriot League titles, but has a strong defensive combination in Blass and Seybert to try and get back to the top. Blass is a three-time first-team All-Patriot League selection who tallied five goals and three assists last year, while Seybert also led the defense and put up four goals and an assist. Kelsey Mead also returns after a second-team All-Patriot League season where she put up four goals and five assists, while Kirby Szalskowski had eight assists in 2013. The main losses are Haley Keenan and Kristin Heaney, who each tied Blass for the team lead with five goals last season. The Leopards also bring back 2012 Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year Jessica Deutsch.
Colgate (4-13, 2-4 PL) was the second-highest scoring team in the Patriot League last season, and has one of the top offensive players in the League back as Brown put up 10 goals and three assists last season. She will be looked upon to help pick up the slack left by the departed Halle Biggar, who led the Patriot League with 13 goals and 27 points a season ago. The Raiders also have a strong player on the back end as Amanda DiDomizio is a three-year starter in goal who had 132 saves and a .742 save percentage last season. Rebecca Libutti and Giuliana Kafaf are also key senior leaders for the Raiders.
Lehigh (3-15, 0-6 PL) has reason for optimism with a pair of players who come back after outstanding freshman campaigns in 2013. Glatt is the Patriot League's top returning scorer after putting up 12 goals and 25 points to earn first-team All-Patriot League status, while Julia Ward led the League with 152 saves and placed third with a .756 save percentage. Steph Fratoni provides senior leadership to a young roster as a three-year starter for the Mountain Hawks and second-team All-League pick in 2011.
Holy Cross (5-12, 1-5 PL) comes off its highest win total since 2008 and returns all but one player who tallied a point last season. Katy Cronin led the way with five goals and three assists, while Michelle McNeil, Molly Feit and Lauren Sutherland are all back after scoring three goals last season. Haley Makuch leads the defense after starting all 17 games last year. There is one key loss as Carly Grimaudo departs after earning first-team All-League status last year.
The field hockey season opens Aug. 29, and every team will be in action on the first weekend. Patriot League play begins on Sept. 20 and continues through Nov. 1. The top four teams in the final regular-season standings will compete in the Patriot League Tournament at the site of the highest-seeded team on Nov. 7-8.
For more content including the 2014 schedule and record book and links to information for each team, visit Patriot League Field Hockey Central
Patriot League Field Hockey Preseason Poll
1. American, 68 points (8 first-place votes)
2. Boston University, 66 (6)
3. Bucknell, 47
4. Lafayette, 46
5. Colgate, 32
6. Lehigh, 19
7. Holy Cross, 16
Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Sofi Laurito, Boston University (Jr., M/F)
Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Brittany Blass, Lafayette (Sr., M/D)
Field Hockey Preseason All-Patriot League Team
Carly Atchison, American (Sr., M)
Grace Wilson, American (Sr., D)
Valentina Cerda Eimbcke, Boston University (Sr., GK)
Sofi Laurito, Boston University (Jr., M/F)
Hester van der Laan, Boston University (So., M)
Kelsey Mucelli, Bucknell (Sr., M)
Liz Wills, Bucknell (Sr., D)
Eliana Brown, Colgate (Sr., F)
Brittany Blass, Lafayette (Sr., M/D)
Jenna Seybert, Lafayette (Sr., D)
Marissa Glatt, Lehigh (So., F)