GORHAM, Maine - Eastern Connecticut State University collected five first place votes and 47 total points to finish first in the annual pre-season poll of the Little East Conference's seven women's lacrosse head coaches.
Eastern Connecticut edged 2002 regular-season and conference tournament champion Plymouth State College, which collected the two remaining first place votes and 44 total points. Plymouth State, which posted a perfect 6-0 regular-season league mark a year ago, downed Eastern Connecticut in the inaugural conference tournament and finished the year at 13-6 overall. Eastern Connecticut, which placed second in the regular season at 5-1, rallied to defeat Plymouth State in the finals of the ensuing ECAC Tournament and concluded the year at 15-4.
The middle of the poll found the trio of Keene State College (9-5; 3-3), the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (8-8; 3-3) and Western Connecticut State University (3-11; 2-4) separated by a mere eight points. Keene State collected 32 points to finish third ahead of Western Connecticut, which received 28 points to place fourth. UMass Dartmouth tallied 24 points to place fifth.
A year ago, Keene State and UMass Dartmouth tied for third place and hosted an opening round tournament contest. Keene State eliminated Rhode Island College, while UMass Dartmouth slipped by Western Connecticut. In the semifinals, Eastern Connecticut ousted Keene State and Plymouth State eliminated UMass Dartmouth.
Rounding out the poll was the University of Southern Maine (4-9; 1-5) in sixth place with 11 points and Rhode Island College (3-8; 1-5) in seventh place with 10 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 2 and the championship game is scheduled for May 4.
2003 Little East Conference Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll 1) Eastern Connecticut 47 (5) 2) Plymouth State 44 (2) 3) Keene State College 32 4) Western Connecticut 28 5) UMass Dartmouth 24 6) Southern Maine 11 7) Rhode Island College 10 (first place votes in parentheses)