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Keene State Sits Atop Little East Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll

Keene State Sits Atop Little East Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Keene State College came in atop the 2010 Little East Conference women's lacrosse preseason poll, narrowly edging Eastern Connecticut State University for the distinction. In votes cast by the conference's seven head coaches, the two schools garnered three first place votes apiece. The Owls took the overall vote by a narrow six point-margin, taking 45 points to the Warriors’ 39. As defending champions of the conference from 2009, Keene State finds themselves selected as preseason favorites for the first time since the poll's inception in 2002.

The survey's results reflect a budding rivalry between the two-top vote getters heading into the 2010 season. In 2009, the Owls and Warriors split two head-to-head contests, each of which were decided by a single goal. While Eastern Connecticut grabbed a 14-13 victory last March, Keene State countered with a thrilling 9-8 overtime victory last May to claim the 2009 Little East Tournament Championship on the Warriors' home field. The Owls and Warriors headline the first day of this spring's conference play with a head-to-head matchup at Keene State at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 3. This much-anticipated matchup will be broadcast on Littleeast.tv.

Head Coach Katie Arsenault enters the 2010 faced with the challenge of putting together a proper encore. In her first season at the helm, Arsenault guided the Owls to their first-ever Little East Championship and appearance in the NCAA tournament. Along the way, Keene State set new program records in consecutive victories (8) and Little East Conference regular season victories (5). The Owls return an All-Conference, first team selection from last season in junior midfielder Jamie Albert (Southington, Conn.), who notched 37 goals and 16 assists in 2009. Arsenault also welcomes back junior attacker Jill Kirk (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.), who led the team in scoring last season with 48 goals while starting all 20 games. Keene State also returns two juniors who appeared on the All-Little East second-team in 2009: midfielder Emily Persano (Somers, Conn.) and defender Annie Brown (Westwood, Mass.). The Owls will travel to St. Michael's on Saturday for their season opener at 1 p.m.

For Head Coach Christine Hutchinson's Eastern Connecticut squad, 2010 presents an urgent opportunity to reclaim the conference crown. In each of Hutchinson's three seasons, the Warriors reached the ultimate game of the Little East Tournament, claiming titles in 2007 and 2008, and coming in runner-up to Keene State in 2009. Eastern Connecticut will feature a menacing two-headed offensive attack in attacker Brooke Wayte (Bellport, N.Y.) and midfielder Taylor MacDonald (Oak Bluffs, Mass.). Both seniors are coming off career years in which they earned All-Little East, first-team honors and combined for 80 goals. Wayte led the team in scoring with 42 goals and eight assists, while MacDonald tallied 38 goals -- including a league-leading five game-winners -- and a team-high 30 assists. MacDonald also excels defensively, and won the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award in each of the last two seasons. The Warriors begin their season this afternoon when they play host to Babson.

Plymouth State University received one first place vote en route to a third place finish in the coaches' poll, gathering 31 points. Head Coach Kristin Blanchette begins her tenure as head coach, inheriting a program that reached the semifinals of the Little East Tournament in 2009. The Panthers will rely upon the leadership of senior midfielder Kalie Judd (Peabody, Mass.). The captain posted 32 goals and seven assists en route to the All-Little East, first-team last season. Plymouth State also returns 2009's leading scorer in sophomore attacker Brianna Davis, who earned all-conference second-team honors on the merit of her 38 goals and six assists. The Panthers open the 2010 campaign with a non-conference game at Worcester State at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 11.

Completing the Little East women's lacrosse preseason poll in projected order of finish in the final regular season standings are the University of Southern Maine (25), the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (21), Western Connecticut State University (21), and Rhode Island College (14).

The Little East Conference sponsors a six-game conference schedule with each team playing each other once. The top six teams in the final regular season standings advance to the 2010 Little East Women's Lacrosse Championship Tournament. The conference champion will be crowned on Saturday, May 8 and earn the automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament.

2010 Little East Women's Lacross Preseason Coaches' Poll

Rank Institution First Place Total Points
1 Keene State College 3 45
2 Eastern Connecticut State University 3 39
3 Plymouth State University 1 31
4 University of Southern Maine   25
5 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth   21
  Western Connecticut State University   21
7 Rhode Island College   14