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Panthers picked 5th in LEC poll

GORHAM, Maine - Unbeaten through the first two years of Little East Conference play, Eastern Connecticut State University collected all seven first-place votes and 49 total points to earn top honors in the annual pre-season poll of the league's seven men's lacrosse head coaches.

Since the LEC began sponsoring men's lacrosse with the onset of the 2001 campaign, Eastern Connecticut has swept the regular-season title and conference tournament in each of the past two years. The Warriors have posted back-to-back 6-0 records in conference play, and concluded each of the past two seasons with an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. A year ago, Eastern Connecticut compiled an overall mark of 13-3.

Keene State College (5-1, 12-3) received 42 points to finish second, well ahead of third-place University of Massachusetts Boston (3-3; 8-6). The two teams advanced to the semifinals of the 2002 LEC Tournament, where Keene Sate was eliminated by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, while UMass Boston was ousted by Eastern Connecticut.

Finishing fourth was UMass Dartmouth (4-2; 9-8) with 26 points to narrowly edge Plymouth State College (2-4; 4-10), which tallied 24 points. Rounding out the poll was the University of Southern Maine (1-5; 5-10) in sixth place with 14 points and Salem State College (4-11; 0-6) in seventh place with nine points.

Each of the league's seven members will play a six-game, regular-season conference schedule, with the top six teams advancing to the conference tournament. Opening round games will be played on April 29, while the semifinals will be held on May 1, and the championship game is set for May 3.

2003 Little East Conference Men's Lacrosse Preseason Poll

1) Eastern Connecticut 49 (7) 2) Keene State 42 3) UMass Boston 32 4) UMass Dartmouth 26 5) Plymouth State 24 6) Southern Maine 14 7) Salem State 9

(first place votes in parentheses)