PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Defending conference champion Plymouth State was selected as the favorite in the 2015 Little East Conference Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll, as voted upon by the league's seven head coaches. The Panthers, who earn top billing for the third-consecutive season, received four first place votes in the poll to total 33 points.
Last season's regular-season champion Keene State was second in the poll standings, earning two first place votes for 31 points. Western Connecticut was the recipient of one first-place tally and garnered 25 points for third place.
With head coach Kristin Tracy beginning her sixth year leading the program, Plymouth State enters 2015 seeking its sixth league title in program history. Last season, the Panthers made a late resurgence after posting a 4-2 conference record, defeating both No. 2 seed Western Connecticut and top-seeded Keene State to claim the Little East tournament title as the No. 3 seed. PSU returns plenty of offensive firepower from last season's squad, which led the league in goals (13.65 per game) and points (18.65 per game), in seniors Amy MacDonald and Molly Gleason. MacDonald, 2014's Little East Offensive Player of the Year, led the conference with 1.53 assists per game last year, while Gleason, a two-time Little East Midfielder of the Year, topped the league with 112 draw controls.
Plymouth State will also return two additional All-Conference players in senior midfield/defense combination Rachel Fistori and attacker Shannon Connerty, while looking to fill the gap left by All-American Lorin Field in goal, who departed PSU after her senior season as one of the most decorated goalkeepers in Little East women's lacrosse history.
Keene State hopes to continue the success of the 2014 season, which saw the Owls post a 6-0 conference record as part of a 13-5 overall slate. In her seventh season, head coach Katie Arsenault returns 13 players and seven starters, including All-Conference junior attacker Katie Nolan, junior defender Laura Gendreau and 2014 Rookie of the Year Jenna Bellano in midfield. Last season, the Owls were one of the top defensive units in the conference, posting a 7.97 goals against average. Keene State will also look to see immediate impact from a large and talented freshman class.
Under 11th-year head coach Jennifer Ouellet, Western Connecticut will field a young but talented squad in the 2015 season. The Colonials will return two All-Conference recipients from last year in senior defender Dana Molloy and senior midfielder Kelsey Heaton. WCSU will look to improve upon an 8-7 overall mark from last year, which included a 5-1 conference slate that saw the Colonials earn the No. 2 seed for the Little East tournament.
Rounding out the poll rankings were Eastern Connecticut (21 points), Southern Maine (17), Rhode Island College (11) and UMass Dartmouth (9). The regular season schedule will start next week, with conference play beginning on March 28.
The Little East Conference will sponsor a six-game regular season women's lacrosse schedule. The top six teams advance to the 2015 Little East Women's Lacrosse Championship tournament with the No. 1 and No. 2 teams earning a first round bye. The semifinals are scheduled for Thursday, April 30 with the conference's tournament champion being crowned two days later. The league champion will earn automatic qualification into the 2015 NCAA Division III tournament.
Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes. Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.
2015 Little East Conference Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll
|Institution||First Place Votes||Total Points|
|1. Plymouth State||4||33|
|2. Keene State||2||31|
|3. Western Connecticut||1||25|
|4. Eastern Connecticut||21|
|5. Southern Maine||17|
|6. Rhode Island College||11|
|7. UMass Dartmouth||9|