UMass Boston earns top billing; PSU seventh
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The Little East women's soccer coaches have selected the University of Massachusetts Boston as the preseason favorite to capture the regular-season title for the first time in conference history. The Beacons are coming off the program's most successful season that included a Little East tournament championship, in addition its accompanying berth into the NCAA Division III tournament field.
UMass Boston penned six first-place votes in its ledger and 62 total points to sit atop the annual preseason coaches' survey for the first time in program history. Eastern Connecticut State University received the remaining two first-place votes and compiled 53 total markers to finish second. Western Connecticut State University (45) edged Keene State College (42) for third to complete the top-half of the eight-team preseason field.
Under the direction of Amy Zombeck, the Beacons put an additional four victories between the previous record holders with an overall record of 18-3. Zombeck guided UMass Boston to a share of the Little East regular-season title with a 6-1 mark inside the conference circuit. The Beacons utilized their home field advantage to defeat the fourth-seeded Owls, 5-0, in the semifinal finals to advance to the program's second championship final in the past three seasons. Senior Tayla Andrews (Plymouth, Mass.) scored the decisive marker in the 62nd minute to help UMass Boston edge the third-seeded Colonials, 1-0, and avenge its only conference loss of the season. The Beacons advanced to the program's first NCAA Division III Championship, extending their postseason streak to four years with three prior invitations to the Eastern College Athletic Conference New England tournament.
Zombeck will welcome back eight starters and a total of 17 student-athletes from last year's record-breaking squad. UMass Boston will feature one of the top prolific scoring combinations in Division III in junior Krista Ledin (Bridgewater, Mass.) and Andrews. Last season, Ledin established a new conference record for goals (26) and points (64), while Andrew produced career-highs in all major scoring categories (21-11-53). The Beacons will open its 2013 schedule at 3 p.m. on August 30, when UMass Boston will host the University of New England. The Beacons will also square off against No. 2 Emory University at 1 p.m. on Sept. 2.
Head Coach Chris D'Ambrosio led the Warriors a share of the Little East regular-season title in 2012, posting a conference mark of 6-1. Eastern Connecticut (9-6-3) faced a grueling non-conference schedule with four New England Small College Athletic Conference opponents, in addition to NCAA participant Westfield State. The Warriors' closed strong down the streak with a five-match unbeaten streak (3-0-2). Intra-state rival Western Connecticut edged Eastern Connecticut on penalty kicks in the semifinal round of the Little East Championship to conclude the Warriors campaign.
The Little East will sponsor a round-robin conference schedule with each team meeting each other once in the regular-season. The top-six teams in the final regular-season standings advance to the 2013 Little East Women's Soccer Championship with the two highest seeds earning a first round bye and home field advantage in the semifinal round on Thursday, November 7. The Little East championship match is scheduled for Saturday, November 9 at the highest remaining seed. The conference champion will earn the automatic qualifier into the 2013 NCAA Division III Championship.
Completing the preseason coaches' poll in projected order of finish in the final regular-season standings are University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (32), University of Southern Maine (22), Plymouth State University (16) and Rhode Island College (16), respectively.
Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes. Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.
2013 Little East Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Rank||Institution||1st Place||Total Points|
|Rhode Island College||16|
(Courtesy of the Little East Conference)
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