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PSC picked to repeat as LEC Champions

GORHAM, Maine -- The defending champion Plymouth State College Panthers have been tabbed as the preseason favorite to repeat as champions in 2001 according to the Little East Conference field hockey coaches preseason poll.

William M. Moore, commissioner of the Little East Conference, announced the results of the poll Thursday afternoon following a vote by the conference's eleven field hockey head coaches. The Panthers, 15-5 overall and undefeated in conference play last season, garnered nine of eleven first place votes and a pair of second place votes to amass 119 of a possible 121 points.

Second-year head coach Bonnie Lord returns 14 players, including four all-conference selections, from last year's squad that went 10-0 in the regular season and swept a pair of games in the championship tournament to win its first LEC championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament. The University of Southern Maine Huskies, 12-10 overall and 8-2 in conference play last season, picked up the other two first place votes and finished second in the poll with 105 points. Keene State College, 17-6 overall and 9-1 in LEC play, was third in the poll, amassing 99 points. Westfield State College, 11-6 overall and 7-3 in conference play, followed with 90 points, and Worcester State College, 9-10 overall and 5-5 in the LEC, rounded out the top five with 72 points. The top five teams in the poll were the top five finishers in the 2000 regular season. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Fitchburg State College, Eastern Connecticut State University, Bridgewater State College, Salem State College and Framingham State College completed the poll.

Five Little East Conference schools and six Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference schools will compete under the banner of the Little East Conference for the coveted automatic berth in the 2001 NCAA Division III national championship tournament. The two conferences combined in field hockey prior to the 2000 season because neither had the required seven or more teams to secure an automatic berth. The top seven teams will qualify for the LEC championship tournament at the end of the regular season.

2001 Little East Conference Field Hockey Preseason Poll Team (1st place votes) Points

1) Plymouth State (9) 119

2) Southern Maine (2) 105

3) Keene State 99

4) Westfield State 90

5) Worcester State 72

6) UMass Dartmouth 61

7) Fitchburg State 53

8) Eastern Connecticut 40

9) Bridgewater State 36

10) Salem State 30

11) Framingham State 21