FAIRFIELD, CT- The Sacred Heart field hockey team were picked to finish sixth in the 2011 version of the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll released this week. The NEC, entering it's 13th season of field hockey, had defending champion Rider garner four first-place votes in being picked as the preseason favorite to repeat.
Monmouth had two first place votes and finished second followed by Quinnipiac in third, who had two first-place votes as well. Rounding out this year's poll was Bryant in fourth, Saint Francis (PA) in fifth, SHU in sixth and Robert Morris and Siena in seventh and eighth, respectively.
Preseason training camp is underway for the Pioneers as they target August 26th and 27th to open the season. SHU will play a pair of games at the Anheuser-Busch Center in St. Louis against St. Louis University and Missouri State University.
The Pioneers will look to senior Kim Stow (Norwalk, CT), the reigning NEC Goalkeeper and Defensive Player of the Year, to lead this year's squad under head coach Chris Blais. Stow led all NEC goalkeepers last year with 163 saves and became the first goalkeeper in NEC history to win both Goalkeeper and Defensive Player of the Year. She has played every minute of the past two seasons, and recorded three shutouts last year with a 2.75 goals against average.
Offensively, junior forward Lindsay Kasten (Fair Haven, NJ) is the team's top-returning scorer with 14 points and seven goals last fall. She had the game-winner in three of the Pioneers four wins in 2010.
After making the NEC Tournament in 10 of their first 11 years in the league, SHU is looking to end a two-year post season drought in 2011. The seven-game NEC slate gets underway on October 7th with SHU playing host to the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash.