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March 8, 2006

Little East Conference spring sports preseason polls released

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The pre-season coaches' polls have been announced for four Little East Conference spring sports, and the highlight for Plymouth State University is the women's lacrosse team being picked to capture its fifth straight regular season championship.

            The LEC polls are out for the sports of baseball, softball and men's and women's lacrosse.  The votes were cast by the conference's head coaches, and the polls were released by LEC Commissioner William M. Moore.

            The Panther women's lacrosse team, which captured the first three LEC Tournament titles from 2002-04, received three of the seven first-place votes and topped this year's poll.  Eastern Connecticut also got three first-place votes and finished second in the voting, while Keene State received the other top vote and finished third.  PSU went 6-0 in LEC play last season before falling to Eastern Connecticut in the LEC title game.

            The PSU men's lacrosse team was picked to finished third among seven schools.  Defending champion Keene State was selected first in this spring's poll, receiving six first-place votes, and last year's runner-up, Eastern Conn., was voted second, receiving the other top vote. PSU finished fourth in the LEC regular season the past two years.

            Plymouth State was the No. 6 pick among eight schools in the LEC softball poll.  Defending tournament champion Keene State received five first-place votes and was the top choice, while defending regular season champion Rhode Island College got two top votes and finished second in the voting.  PSU placed sixth in the conference last year with a 6-8 mark.

            The Panthers were picked eighth in the preseason baseball poll.  The University of Southern Maine edged out perennial power Eastern Connecticut for the top spot in the poll, with USM receiving four first-place votes and EastConn three.  Defending tournament champ RIC got the other top vote and finished third in the poll.  PSU is hoping to avoid its fourth straight eighth-place finish.

            The PSU men's and women's lacrosse  and baseball seasons open this Saturday with road contests, while the softball opener is a week away.  All four Panther teams are headed to Florida during the school's upcoming spring break (Mar. 18-26), with the men's lacrosse team going to Orlando, the women's lacrosse team staying in Wellington, and the baseball and softball squads competing in the annual Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic in Ft. Myers.

The complete Little East Conference spring preseason poll results are listed below:

2006 Little East Conference Women's Lacrosse Pre-Season Poll
1.         Plymouth State                43 (3)
2.         Eastern Connecticut         42 (3)
3.         Keene State                      40 (1)
4.         UMass-Dartmouth            27
5.         Southern Maine                 17
6.         Western Connecticut        16
7.         Rhode Island College        11

(first-place votes in parentheses)

2006 Little East Conference Men's Lacrosse Pre-Season Poll
1.         Keene State                      48 (6)
2.         Eastern Connecticut         42 (1)
3.         Plymouth State                33
4.         Western Connecticut        30
5.         UMass Boston                  17
6.         UMass-Dartmouth            16
7.         Southern Maine                   7

(first-place votes in parentheses)

2006 Little East Conference Baseball Pre-Season Poll
1.         Southern Maine                 58 (4)
2.         Eastern Connecticut         56 (3)
3.         Rhode Island College        48 (1)
4.         Keene State                      44
5.         Western Connecticut        31
5.         UMass Boston                  20
6.         UMass Dartmouth             19
8.         Plymouth State                12

(first-place votes in parentheses)

2006 Little East Conference Softball Pre-Season Poll
1.         Keene State                      58 (5)
2.         Rhode Island College        56 (2)
3.         Western Connecticut        52 (1)
4.         Eastern Connecticut         39
5.         Southern Maine                 34
6.         Plymouth State                23
7.         UMass Dartmouth             16
8.         UMass Boston                  10

(first-place votes in parentheses)

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