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Keene State Perched Atop 2011 Women’s Lacrosse Preseason Poll

Keene State Perched Atop 2011 Women’s Lacrosse Preseason Poll

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Keene State College was nearly a unanimous selection to capture to the regular-season crown, according to the 2011 Little East women's lacrosse preseason coaches' poll. The Owls earned seven of the eight possible first-place votes to easily outdistance themselves from Eastern Connecticut State University and Western Connecticut State University.

The Warriors earned the eighth and final first-place vote to total 33 points and enter the campaign tied for the second position with the Colonials. The reigning conference tournament champions, University of Southern Maine, finished just two points off the pace of second place with 31 points.

Under the leadership of Head Coach Katie Arsenault, Keene State College established a new standard for single-season victories with a 14-5 mark, including a 5-1 record inside the conference circuit. The Owls earned a share of the program's first regular-season crown in 2010 with Eastern Connecticut and Plymouth State. Arsenault led Keene State to the program's second Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Championship, edging Mount Holyoke 18-17 in the finale. The Owls featured an explosive attack in 2010, leading the Little East points and assists (8.11), while ranking second in goals (14.63) per game. Keene State will return its top three scorers from a year ago, including All-Little East, first-team selections senior midfielder Jamie Albert (Southington, Conn.) and senior attacker Lauren Sawyer (Westbrook, Maine). Albert led the squad in scoring with 89 points, while Sawyer set the program record with 60 helpers. The Owls are in search of the program's first outright conference regular-season championship.

Head Coach Christine Hutchison guided the Warriors to the program's sixth straight and eighth overall appearance in the Little East championship contest in 2010. Eastern Connecticut posted an overall record of 9-10, including a 5-1 mark in the conference. The Warriors won three of its four final regular-season matches to earn the No. 3 seed in the annual Little East Championship. Eastern Connecticut penned an addition two victories in its ledger, including a double-overtime win at Plymouth State to advance to the finals. Hutchison will welcome back eight student-athletes from last year, including five starters. Junior attacker Ashley Prizio (Brookfield, Conn.) and sophomore midfielder Daniela Marchitto (Orange, Conn.) return as the team's top-two leading scorers from the 2010 campaign, while classmate goalkeeper Nancy Ibrahim (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) will resume her duties between the pipes. The Warriors have a favorable Little East schedule in 2011, hosting Keene State (April 9) and Western Connecticut (April 27).

Under the guidance of Head Coach Jennifer Ouellet, the Colonials earned their highest preseason projection in the 10-year history of the poll. Western Connecticut won nine of its first 10 contests to open the 2010 slate, but finished with a 10-6 mark. Ouellet will welcome 17 student-athletes, including nine starters, back into the fold from a year ago. The Colonials will showcase a powerful offensive attack as three of their top-four scorer's return. Sophomore attacker Nicole Perrone (Brookfield, Conn.) sat atop the team scoring list as a rookie, recording 45 goals and 10 assists for 55 points. Western Connecticut will open the 2011 Little East schedule at 4 p.m. on April 2, when the Colonials host the Owls.

The Little East sponsors a six-game conference schedule with the top-six squads in the final standings advancing to the 2011 Little East Women's Lacrosse Championship. The top-two seeds receive a first-round bye and earn the right to host a semifinal round contest on Thursday, May 5. Two days later, the two semifinal winners advance to the championship round at the highest remaining seed. The Little East champion earns the conference's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Rounding out the annual preseason survey in projected of finish in the final regular-season standings are Plymouth State University (29), University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (13), and Rhode Island College (9).

The Little East Conference is celebrating its 25th anniversary during the 2010-11 academic year. The conference began sponsoring women's lacrosse in 2002. The Little East has grown to its current eight-institution membership and the sponsorship of 19 intercollegiate athletics sports.

2011 Little East Women's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll
Institution 1st (7) Total Points
Keene State College 6 48
Eastern Connecticut State University 1 33
Western Connecticut State University   33
University of Southern Maine 31
Plymouth State University   29
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth   13
Rhode Island College   9