Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Morgan Dankanich
August 18, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Boston University will enter its 20th season of women's soccer as the defending Patriot League champion and the consensus is that the Terriers nucleus of 19 returnees and eight newcomers are the favorite to do it again this fall. Coach Nancy Feldman's squad claimed the No. 1 spot in the 2014 League preseason women's soccer poll and placed a pair of student-athletes on the preseason All-Patriot League squad.
BU received 15 of the 20 first place votes and totaled 159 points to earn the top spot, followed by 2013 runner-up Navy. The Mids, led by preseason Offensive Player of the Year Morgan Dankanich and preseason Defensive Player of the Year Jade Seabrook, landed the remaining five first place votes and 148 points in the preseason poll.
The next four spots in the preseason poll are occupied by the four schools who joined Boston University in the six-team 2013 Patriot League Tournament. Colgate was chosen for third place with 131 points, followed by Army (101), American (98) and Bucknell (82). Rounding out the preseason poll was Lehigh (55), Loyola (46), Holy Cross (43) and Lafayette (37).
The poll and preseason All-League voting were conducted by the League's head coaches and sports information directors who could not cast ballots for their own teams or players.
Dankanich, the 2013 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, scored 14 goals and added three assists during Navy's 16-5 campaign. Of the 14 goals, the senior from Glenmoore, Pa. netted seven game-winners. Dankanich was also named to the NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region First Team as a junior.
Seabrook, a two-time Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, is one of 35 women's soccer players from around the nation to be named to the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List for 2014. The St. Paris, Ohio native helped anchor Navy's backline as one of the best in the nation in 2013 as a junior and is also a two-time NSCAA All-America Third Team selection.
Navy and American led the way on the preseason All-Patriot League team with three players each. Boston University and Colgate each had a pair while Holy Cross and Bucknell had one selection apiece. The 2014 preseason All-Patriot League team features a dozen players due to a tie in the voting.
Boston University (15-4-4, 8-1-0 in 2013) placed senior defender Kai Miller and sophomore forward Erica Kosienski on the preseason All-League squad. Miller, a first team All-Patriot League selection as a junior, started all 23 games for the Terriers and was a member of a backline that shut out a program-record 16 opponents. Kosienski led BU with 18 points on eight goals and two assists. The reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Year netted the game-winner in the Terriers 1-0 win over Navy in the championship game.
In addition to Dankanich and Seabrook, Navy (16-5-0, 8-1-0) senior midfielder Rachel Hunter is the third member of the Mids on the preseason All-League team. A second team All-Patriot League performer as a junior, Hunter started all 21 games for Navy and dished four assists.
Colgate (10-6-3, 6-2-1) battled eventual champion BU through 110 scoreless minutes in the tournament semifinals before falling on penalty kicks. The Raiders return a pair of preseason All-League players in junior forward Catherine Williams and senior midfielder Caroline Brawner. Williams, one of only two non-seniors on the preseason All-League team, was a second team selection as a sophomore and registered three goals and three assists. Brawner, who has started every game she has played since arriving in 2011, led Colgate with 12 points as a junior. The Edmonds, Wash. native has been an All-Patriot League selection in each of her first three years and also an All-Mid Atlantic Region choice as a sophomore and junior.
Balanced Army (8-7-4, 4-3-2) didn't land anyone on the preseason All-Patriot League squad, but returns a solid nucleus led by senior defender Lara Wilson and junior forward Katie Holder. Wilson started all 19 games as a junior and quarterbacks a Black Knights defense that posted seven shutouts. Holder, a third team All-Patriot League selection as a sophomore, is Army's top returning scorer.
American (6-12-2, 4-4-1) advanced to the 2013 Patriot League tournament semifinals before falling to top-seeded Navy. A trio of seniors were chosen for the preseason All-League team in goalkeeper Charlene Belanger, forward Lindsay Muri and defender Kirsten Eriksen. Belanger ranked first in the PL with a .885 save percentage and first in total saves with 116. Muri led the Eagles with 13 points and netted four game-winning goals. Eriksen started all 20 games and was named to the All-Patriot League second team.
After a two-year absence, Bucknell (7-9-2, 4-4-1) returned to the Patriot League tournament a year ago. The 2014 Bison will be led by senior midfielder Evelyn Nicinski, a member of the Polish National Team, who was a second team All-Patriot League performer a year ago and is a preseason All-League selection this season. Senior Courtney Nelson, a third team All-Patriot League choice, also returns to anchor the Bucknell defense.
After qualifying for the Patriot League postseason in 2012, Lehigh (5-10-2, 3-6-0) seeks a return after falling short a year ago. The Mountain Hawks bring back its leading scorer in senior midfielder Danielle Salans and one of the top returning goalkeepers in senior Ashley Blanks who posted a 1.01 goals against average and .866 save percentage while splitting time in goal.
Loyola (2-11-4, 1-6-2) will begin their second year as a member of the Patriot League, but first under new head coach Naomi Meiburger. Greyhounds junior forward Charlotte Miller finished in the top ten statistically in points and goals among Patriot League players and netted a game-winner in a victory over Patriot League tournament qualifier American.
Senior Gina Righini, an All-Patriot League selection as a freshman and sophomore, has started all 52 games of her career with Holy Cross (2-12-4, 2-7-0) but is looking to experience the postseason for the first time. Righini is a preseason All-League selection at midfield as she returns for her senior campaign with the Crusaders along with fellow captains forward Emily Gallagher, defender Ally Pasquariello and goalkeeper Carly McCabe.
Lafayette (5-10-2, 1-7-1) won three of its first four games to start the 2013 season before struggling to score for a stretch of the campaign. The Leopards graduated only two regulars - both on defense - from last year's squad. Head coach Mick Statham returns a pair of senior forwards in Jaclyn Giordano and Alyssa Finelli who combined with sophomore Kaelin King to tally 28 points a year ago.
The season begins Friday with seven teams in action. American, Army and Boston University open at home with contests against Longwood, Fairfield and La Salle, respectively. Colgate travels to Boston College, Loyola is at George Mason, Navy will make the trek to UMBC and Holy Cross will open on the road against Siena.
Bucknell will play its first game of the 2014 season at Hofstra at noon on Sunday while Lehigh will play host to Binghamton at 12:30 the same day. Lafayette will be the final team to play a regular season game when they visit St. Peter's on Tuesday, August 26.
The ten Patriot League teams will each play a nine-game League season beginning on Saturday, September 20. The top six teams as determined by the regular season will qualify for the Patriot League postseason tournament with the top two seeds earning byes to the semifinals. The No. 3 seed will host No. 6 and No. 4 will host No. 5 in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The top seed will host the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 7, and the championship on Sunday, Nov. 9.
2014 Preseason Poll
1. Boston University - 159 points (15 first-place votes)
2. Navy - 148 (5)
3. Colgate - 131
4. Army - 101
5. American - 98
6. Bucknell - 82
7. Lehigh - 55
8. Loyola - 46
9. Holy Cross - 43
10. Lafayette - 37
Preseason All-League Team *
Morgan Dankanich, Navy, Sr., F
Erica Kosienski, Boston U., So., F
Lindsay Muri, American, Sr., F
Catherine Williams, Colgate, Jr., F
Caroline Brawner, Colgate, Sr., M
Rachel Hunter, Navy, Sr., M
Evelyn Nicinski, Bucknell, Sr., M
Gina Righini, Holy Cross, Sr., M
Kirsten Eriksen, American, Sr., D
Kai Miller, Boston U., Sr., D
Jade Seabrook, Navy, Sr., D
Charlene Belanger, American, Sr., GK
*12 players due to a tie in the voting
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year - Morgan Dankanich, Navy, Sr., F
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year - Jade Seabrook, Navy, Sr., D