Lasell Women's Soccer Named the GNAC Team to Beat in 2011
As fall sports conclude their preseason's, women's soccer pre-season poll has been tallied and calculated. The 2010 Women's Soccer champions Lasell College is ranked as the team beat in the 2011 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) in vote from the GNAC coaches. Suffolk University comes in as runner up after making an early exit last season from the GNAC playoffs, but went on to play in the ECAC tournament after an impressive season. Norwich takes the third pick, who also went on to play in the ECAC tournament after the GNAC play-offs. Number four is St. Joseph Blue Jays, then Emmanuel College, and Albertus Magnus College. Rounding out the top eight is Johnson & Wales University, and the Monks of Saint Joseph College of Maine, respectively.
Lasell is the reigning GNAC Champions after one of their best seasons in program history. They were the first women's program in Laser's history to play in the NCAA Tournament. In their GNAC tournament domination they did not allow one goal. In the NCAA Tournament they fell to Williams College who ended ranked 9th in the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Top-25. The Lasers return several key players that will help them in 2011. First Team All-GNAC and GNAC Tournament Co-MVP, Elizabeth Stickley (Mashpee, MA) will be between the pipes once again. She is ranked 56th in the country as best goalkeepers in DIII women's soccer among many awards this senior earned. Lasers also bring back sophomore forward Jamie Harris (Lynnfield, MA) who was the other Co-MVP in the GNAC Tournament. She had impressive rookie season in 2010 ranking in numerous categories with her finishing capabilities. Other impressive GNAC All-Conference players that return for the Lasers this season are Jordynn Frollo (Uxbridge, MA), Molly Clarke (Berlin, CT), Allyson Bushey (Westminster, MA), and Meredith Hesslet (Middleton, RI). They kick off their season on September 3rd at the Springfield Tournament against the Pride of Springfield College who is hosting the tournament.
#2 Suffolk University
Suffolk University will open up this 2011 season on September 3rd against Eastern Nazarene at home. Suffolk had a record breaking season posting their best regular season record of 10-2 in 2010 Conference play and 13-4-1 in overall season play. Sophomores Taylor Miranda (Smithtown, NY) and Gabrielle Balestrier (Mohnton, PA) were invited this past summer to play in the USA D-3 Soccer Tour. Miranda had set a new GNAC record last season with her golden foot finding the back of the net with 17 goals in GNAC play and 21 goals in the season setting a program record, as well. She was named GNAC Offensive Player of the year. Her ability to finish ranked her 19thamong all NCAA DIII women's soccer players and 26th among all scorers in the country with 46 total points. Balestrier came in second in the GNAC 43 points. She is not without her awards as well having been named numerous times as the player of week with the GNAC (September 18 and October 11th), and with the Eastern College Athletic Conference (September 20).
#3 Norwich University
Norwich University will return captains Kacey Abbriano (Hicksville, NY) and Brittany Casey (Pointe-Claire, Quebec). Abbriano is a strong defender for the Cadets and Casey has leaded them in scoring for past two seasons. Norwich made it to the GNAC finals last years before falling to Lassel. They did go on to play in the ECAC Tournament only to fall to UMass-Boston 3-2. They rounded out the season with a record of 13-9 overall. They square off at Johnson State on September 1st.
# 4 St. Joseph (CT)
The Blue Jays return several important players from their 2010 season where they reached the semifinal round before being knocked out. They return GNAC Second Team goalkeeper Holly Mirabella (Seymour, CT) who is a dual player having also been successful as a field player in the past. Senior midfielder Stacey Rutledge (Meriden, CT) returns after a remarkable season that had her tied for fourth in school history in goals with 23 goals. She was also named Second Team All-GNAC with her leading the Blue Jays in goals. Melisa Maddaloni (Cheshire, CT) also returns after being named Second Team All-GNAC and to the GNAC All-Tournament Team. On defense the Blue Jays also have Junior Kristin Whitman (South Windsor, CT). She was named First Team All-GNAC and the GNAC's Defensive Player of the Year. They host Manhanttanville for the season opener on September 2nd.
# 5 Emmanuel
The Saints are relying on their veterans this season. These include senior tri-captain Logan Carr (Saratoga Springs, NY), and junior tri-captain Brittany Ridge (Portland, ME) and junior tri-captain Jessica D'Ottavio (Pawling, N) who will anchor the net after a notable season with a team high of 77 saves in the season. Junior Meghan Zebra (Cumberland, RI) had a great season producing 15 points. The pair of sophomores Darcy Sullivan (Dalton, MA) and Lindsay Garvey (Warick, R.I) are a threat on the front line. Sullivan had netted ten goals and four assists last season leading the Saints with 24 points. Garvey who scored six times and had two assists had 15 point in 2010. The Saints meet Husson University on September 3rd for their first match up.
# 6 Albertus Magnus College
Albertus Magnus College comes off of a record tying season in their women's soccer program with a 10-8-1 overall mark. Of this squad four members earned conference honors last season. Defensive standout Sarah Boudreau (Pascoag, RI) made First Team All-Conference. Danielle Figueroa (Bridgeport, CT) who was named to the Third Team All-Conference led the Falcons with 12 goals. Defender Samantha Farley (Shelton, CT) helped Albertus Magnus Women's Soccer last season with their seven shutouts. Concluding the four award winners last year that are returning in the 2011 season is goal keeper Christina Dineson (Milford, CT). She had three shutouts and 56 saves in her 13 games played. They travel to the Coast Guard on September 1stto open the season.
# 7 JWU
Seniors Berkeley Cecchini-Bond (Uncasville, CT) and Samantha Reynolds (Plymouth, MA) are the two All-GNAC Honorees who return this season. They were named to the Second-Team All GNAC in 2010. Cecchini-Bond had seven goals and ten assists last season. Reynolds had 15 goals and three assists. Together they had five game winning goals last season to help the Wildcats record an 8-11-1 overall record. They start their 2011 campaign on September 1st with visiting Keene State.
# 8 St. Joseph's (ME)
The Monks come in ranked number eight in the rankings for the 2011 pre-season poll. Last season the posted a 7-9-1 overall record and 5-6-1 in GNAC play. The team will be led by defender Shannon Fitzgerald (Amesbury, MA), defender Katelyn Call (Portland, MA), defender Casey Monaghan (Portland, MA), and midfielder Jennifer Keaney (Scituate, MA). They hope to make the preseason after coming up just short last year for the first time since joining the conference. They will travel to take on Husson on September 1st.