MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Defending champions Lesley University top the 2018 NECC Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll, collecting 97 points, including eight first place selections. The Lynx, led by 2017 NECC Coach of the Year, Paul Vasconcelos, have won five of the past six NECC Championships, and are returning several key contributors from last year's championship team. 2017 Second Team All-NECC forwards Samantha Bessey (Algonquin, Ill.) and Jordan Mitchell (Sachse, Texas) will return to the pitch, joined by midfielder McKenna Straube (Junction City, Ore.) and defender Kyra Harbus (Ventura, Calif.) who were also second team honorees a season ago. Mitchell was fifth in the league in goals with 12, also adding eight assists, while Bessey tacked on eight goals. Straube and Harbus helped shore up a defense that allowed only two goals in regular season conference play.
Landing in second with 79 total points and one first place vote, is Elms College. Under the direction of head coach Sean Milbier, the Blazers have reached five consecutive NECC Championship games. Elms will be forced to replace their top three goal scorers from a season ago, but will be strong in goal, as they return the 2016 Goalkeeper of the Year, and 2017 Third Team All-NECC Goalkeeper, Rebecca Molin (West Hartford, Conn.) Molin was third in the league in both goals- against-average (0.92) and save percentage (.808), while leading the league in wins (13) a season ago.
Finishing third in the poll with 72 points, is newcomer New England College. The Pilgrims are coming from the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) where they made seven-straight postseason appearances under head coach Paul Vazquez. New England finished with a 6-2-1 record in their final season in the NAC, and will return First Team All-NAC performer, Emily LePage (West Greenwich, R.I.), who netted seven goals and tallied eight assists last season.
Southern Vermont College was voted into the fourth slot, with a total of 67 points. Led by head coach Michael Zauzig, the Mountaineers have made seven straight NECC postseason appearances. Southern Vermont returns three-time First Team All-NECC performer Molly Madore (Higganum, Conn.), who will be a commanding presence in the Mountaineer back. The 2017 NECC Rookie of the Year, Jayne Wierzbicki (Wilmington, Mass.) will also return. In her rookie campaign, Wierzbicki led her team with five conference goals, including two game winners.
Coming in right behind Southern Vermont is Becker College, with 65 points. Becker, led by second-year head coach Anthony Cosky, returns All-Region and First Team-All NECC honoree, Lindsey Keith (Sutton, Mass.). Keith was the 2017 league leader in goals and points, with 21 and 48, respectively.
Newcomer Eastern Nazarene College (54), Bay Path University (38), Dean College (30), Newbury College (30) and Mitchell College (18) round out the 2018 NECC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll.
2018 NECC Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll
Lesley- 97 (8)
Elms- 79 (1)
New England- 72
Southern Vermont- 67
Eastern Nazarene- 54
Bay Path- 38
T8. Dean- 30 (1) T8. Newbury- 30 10. Mitchell- 18