Panthers picked first in Preseason Coaches' Poll
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University was selected to finish first in the Little East Conference (LEC) by the league's women's lacrosse head coaches after the conference released its Preseason Coaches' Poll on Thursday.
The Panthers, back-to-back conference tournament champions, earned six first place votes to lead the field with 55 points. Keene State took home one first place vote and 46 points to appear second, just ahead of Eastern Connecticut State (44 points). The Warriors were tournament runner-up each of the last two years.
Southern Maine collected the final first place vote to appear fourth with 39 points, with WestConn (31), Castleton (30), UMass Dartmouth (20) and Rhode Island College (15) rounding out the poll.
Third-year head coach Sandy Bridgeman is looking for big things from key returners after the graduation of the conference's top two scorers from a year ago. The defending LEC Coach of the Year is looking forward to big years from a pair of All-LEC First Teamers in senior Kimberly Zuccaro (Townsend, Mass.) and junior Sydney Dubois (Goffstown, N.H.).
Zuccaro, the reigning LEC Midfielder of the Year, did it all for the Panthers a year ago, finishing with 21 goals and 27 points while leading the team in ground balls (64) and caused turnovers (35), and finishing second with 52 draw controls. Dubois enjoyed a strong first season in the green-and-white after transferring from Division II Mercyhurst University. She'll be the top returning scorer after pouring in 36 goals and adding ten assists last spring. She led the team with 59 draw controls and chipped in with 41 ground balls and 28 caused turnovers.
Seniors Veronyca Daniels (Concord, N.H.) and Sarah Thompson (Hooksett, N.H.) and junior Sam Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.) are also expected to provide an offensive spark for the Panthers.
Defensively, Bridgeman expects sophomore Faye Brown (Londonderry, N.H.), senior Emily Sauls (North Andover, Mass.) and junior Sarah Jackes (Londonderry, N.H.) to anchor a squad that led the conference in scoring defense a year ago. Brown, an All-LEC Second Team selection, was the only freshman among the 24 all-conference honorees last year, while Sauls and Jackes provide veteran experience. PSU surrendered just 9.84 goals per game last spring, more than a goal per game better than the next best scoring defense.
Senior Emilee Wargo (Madison, Conn.) and sophomore Meaghan Allard (Amherst, N.H.) will battle it out for the starting goalie position. Wargo posted an impressive 7.44 goals against average over seven games a year ago, while Allard spent last spring at Division I Central Connecticut State.
Bridgeman has set the bar high since arriving at Plymouth State, sporting a 25-8 overall mark while going 11-1 in the LEC. Under her guidance the Panthers have two tournament championships, two NCAA Tournament appearances and a regular season conference title.
Plymouth State bulked up its non-conference schedule this spring and will face a pair of NCAA Final Four teams from last year in national runner-up Middlebury College and semifinalist Salisbury University. PSU will also host Bowdoin College, which advanced to the third round of last year's NCAA Tournament.
PSU kicks off the 2019 campaign at Babson College on Feb. 24 and has its home-opener scheduled for Mar. 17 versus Wheaton College.
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