Panthers unanimous favorites in Preseason Coaches' Poll
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women's lacrosse team was the unanimous favorite to repeat as Little East Conference (LEC) champions according to the Preseason Coaches' Poll, following a vote of the league's seven head coaches the conference office announced on Thursday.
Eastern Connecticut State University was picked to finish second, with Keene State College and Western Connecticut State University rounding out the top four. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the University of Southern Maine and Rhode Island College rounded out the bottom three in the poll.
Led by first-year head coach Sandy Bridgeman, Plymouth State finished last season with an 11-4 mark (5-1 LEC) to earn the #2 seed for the LEC Tournament. After holding on to top rival and third-seeded Keene State College, 9-8, in the semifinal round the Panthers avenged their lone conference loss by defeating top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University, 13-12, in the championship game. It was PSU's fourth straight appearance in the finals and sixth LEC title overall. The Panthers' season came to an end in the NCAA Tournament First Round against regional powerhouse Middlebury College.
"We have a good foundation and gained a lot of great experience from last year," said Bridgeman. "Everyone has been working hard and we have a good camaraderie."
Tingley, a two-time All-LEC First Team selection, has been a three-year starter at midfield and ended the 2017 season with a team-high 69 points on 29 goals and 40 assists. She also led the team in draw controls, with 61, and caused turnovers, with 20. She finished the year number one in the LEC in assists and draw controls per game and second in points per game, ranked 13th in the nation in assists per game, and was named to the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-Pilgrim Region Second Team.
Sullivan, a three-year veteran and two-year starter, has scored more than 50 goals in each of the past two seasons, becoming just the second player in school history to reach that mark. She finished with a team-high 53 goals last spring, fourth most in the LEC, and ranked ninth in the conference with 61 points to earn All-LEC First Team honors. Sullivan was named the Most Outstanding Player in the LEC Tournament after recording eight goals and an assist between the two playoff games.
Zuccaro is the Panthers' other returning All-LEC team member, earning First Team recognition last spring. The 5-1 midfielder finished with 21 goals and six assists while scooping up a team-high 39 ground balls. She was second on the team behind Tingley with 41 draw controls and 16 caused turnovers.
The biggest change for PSU in 2018 will be in the goal, where junior Emilee Wargo (Madison, Conn.) and senior Clarissa Foote (Weare, N.H.) will both be looked upon to fill the vacancy left by the graduation of Meg Brault, who logged over 838 of the 900 minutes in net last year.
"Emilee and Clarissa are both solid goalies with different strengths," praised Bridgeman. "They have worked hard and will continue to push each other every day."
Bridgeman also expects to get key contributions from senior Sophia Guerriero (Essex, Mass.), sophomore Sarah Jackes (Londonderry, N.H.), transfer Sydney Dubois (Goffstown, N.H.) and freshman Faye Brown (Londonderry, N.H.).
The Panthers kick off the 2018 campaign at Babson College on Feb. 28 with a 4:00 p.m. game with the Beavers.
"We have a more competitive non-conference schedule than in years past," said Bridgeman. "We're hopeful the tougher schedule will pay dividends when we get into LEC play in April."
PSU opens its home schedule on Saturday, Mar. 31, with an LEC contest against UMass Dartmouth to be played at the Holderness School Robert T. Low Turf Field. Game time is set for 3:00 p.m.
"It's a nice honor to be picked first in the preseason poll," said Bridgeman, "but it's not where you start that matters … it's where you finish."
2018 LEC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll
(First Place Votes in Parentheses)
|1||Plymouth State (6)||36|
|2||Eastern Connecticut (1)||28|
|7||Rhode Island College||6|
NOTE: Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own team.
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