Aug. 22, 2013
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CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - American and Lafayette have combined to win the last 11 Patriot League field hockey titles, but coaches and sports information directors are predicting the new kid on the block to unseat the Eagles and Leopards as Boston University earned first place in the sport's preseason poll announced on Thursday.
The Terriers took 11 first-place votes and totaled 71 points to earn the top spot in the poll entering their first Patriot League season. American was next with 59 points and the remaining three first-place votes, while two-time defending champion Lafayette followed with 56 points. Bucknell (42), Colgate (27), Holy Cross (20) and Lehigh (19) rounded out the preseason poll.
American and Lafayette did bring home the top two individual awards, as the Eagles had senior midfielder Shelly Montgomery named as Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and the Leopards boasted junior defender Brittany Blass as the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
The Field Hockey Preseason All-Patriot League Team included student-athletes from six different squads, led by Bucknell with three selections. Senior forward Rachel Misko, senior goalkeeper Erica Perrine and junior midfielder Kelsey Mucelli represented the Bison. American, Boston University and Lafayette each had a pair of selections, with Montgomery and senior forward Jaclyn Anspach representing the Eagles, sophomore midfielder Sofi Laurito and senior defender Ysi Schieb on the list from the Terriers, and Blass and fellow junior defender Jenna Seybert making it for the Leopards. Colgate junior forward Eliana Brown and Holy Cross senior forward Carly Grimaudo completed the 11-member team.
Nine of the 11 selections earned All-Patriot League status a year ago, with five of those making the first team. Schieb earned all-conference honors from the America East. 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.
Boston University (12-6, 4-1 America East in 2012) has a storied field hockey history that includes ten NCAA Tournament appearances and eight America East titles, and Head Coach Sally Starr has been there to oversee almost all of it as she enters her 33rd season at the helm. But it's not history that has the Terriers at the top of the preseason poll. BU returns an abundance of talent with senior Madeleine Hackett, juniors Anne Fruitema and Valentina Cerda Eimbcke and sophomores Rachel Coll and Katie Bernatchez joining Laurito and Schieb as accomplished players. The Terriers feature a stout defense that gave up only 27 goals in 18 contests last season. BU also gets the benefit of hosting the three teams behind it in the preseason poll during its inaugural Patriot League season.
American (10-10, 4-1 Patriot League) saw its season come to an end with a heartbreaking overtime loss to Lafayette in the Patriot League Championship game, but has a solid nucleus back to try and re-gain supremacy in the League in 2013. Montgomery paces that group as the top returning Patriot Leaguer in both goals (16) and points (35), while Anspach scored seven goals and another senior, Alex McMackin, finished with five goals and three assists. Rebecca Treharne, Carly Atchison and Grace Wilson form a solid group of juniors, while Ashley Dalisera and Stephanie Burry each enter their senior season with experience in goal. The Eagles have gone 10 consecutive seasons with no more than one loss in Patriot League play.
Lafayette (17-3, 5-0 PL) enjoyed a magical season in 2012, winning a pair of overtime games to claim its second straight Patriot League Tournament title and receiving an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament for its first appearance since 1999. To win a third consecutive League title, the Leopards will have to overcome some key losses, particularly two-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Deanna DiCroce and all-time League assists leader Emily Valeo. The strength this season may start with the defense, as Blass and Seybert lead the way in front of first-team All-Patriot League junior goalkeeper Jessica Deutsch. Kelsey Mead is another junior that will be expected to contribute along with seniors Haley Keenan and Kristin Heaney and sophomore Kirby Szalkowski. Former Leopard standout Jennifer Stone moves into the head coaching role after six seasons as an assistant with the team.
Bucknell (9-10, 3-2 PL) has established itself as an annual contender in the Patriot League race, and its trio of preseason All-Patriot League candidates hopes to help keep the Bison near the top again in 2013. Misko, the 2010 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, is the team's top returning scorer after totaling six goals and five assists last season. Perrine had a 1.94 goals against average and .721 save percentage, while Mucelli will be a key cog in the midfield along with senior Vickie Resh. Head Coach Jeremy Cook has led the Bison to the Patriot League Tournament in each of his previous five seasons.
Colgate (4-13, 2-3 PL) made the Patriot League Tournament in 2012, and nearly pulled off a major upset before falling to Lafayette 4-3 in overtime in the semifinals. The Raiders will look to Brown to lead the way in 2013 after she paced the team with eight goals last season. Senior Kelsey Jensen contributed five goals last season, while junior Amanda DiDomizio is back for her third season as the starting goalkeeper. Colgate has advanced to the Patriot League Tournament in four of the last six seasons.
Holy Cross (2-15, 1-4 PL) earned its first Patriot League win since 2009 when it defeated Lehigh last year, and looks to take another step forward in Head Coach Zowie Tucker's fourth season. Grimaudo enters her senior season after leading the team with seven goals and three assists last year, while sophomores Kaitlyn Murray, Michelle McNeil and Haley Makuch form a solid young core along with veterans Lindsay MacPhail, Jillian Caffrey and Colby Lohrey.
Lehigh (3-14, 0-5 PL) loses its top two scorers from last season, but does have senior leadership with defender Marie Mignogna and forward Caitlyn Mitchell. Sophomore Erin Ricker is the team's top returning scorer, while junior Sydney Maltinsky-Wilson has experience in goal.
The field hockey season opens Aug. 30, and every team will be in action on the first weekend. Patriot League play begins on Sept. 21 and continues through Nov. 2. 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. 8-9.
Patriot League Field Hockey Preseason Poll
1. Boston University (11 first-place votes) 71 points
2. American (3) 59
3. Lafayette 56
4. Bucknell 42
5. Colgate 27
6. Holy Cross 20
7. Lehigh 19
Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Shelly Montgomery, American (Sr., M)
Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Brittany Blass, Lafayette (Jr., D)
Field Hockey Preseason All-Patriot League Team
Jaclyn Anspach, American (Sr., F)
Shelly Montgomery, American (Sr., M)
Sofi Laurito, Boston University (So., M)
Ysi Schieb, Boston University (Sr., D)
Rachel Misko, Bucknell (Sr., F)
Erica Perrine, Bucknell (Sr., GK)
Kelsey Mucelli, Bucknell (Jr., M)
Eliana Brown, Colgate (Jr., F)
Carly Grimaudo, Holy Cross (Sr., F)
Brittany Blass, Lafayette (Jr., D)
Jenna Seybert, Lafayette (Jr., D)