Aug. 13, 2009
Fairfield, CT - The Sacred Heart field hockey squad was picked fourth in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll, announced Thursday by the league office. Defending champion Lock Haven was tabbed the preseason favorite with Rider second and Quinnipiac third.
Sacred Heart has yet to miss out on the NEC Tournament this decade and hopes 2009 will be no different. Like its aforementioned Nutmeg State rival, Sacred Heart loses three of its four all-NEC selections from 2008. The most daunting task awaiting the Pioneers is finding a way to compensate for the loss of reigning NEC Offensive Player of the Year Carisa Eye and her 74 career goals. Head coach Chris Blais has had little trouble assembling talent during her eight-season tenure at the helm and she has an experienced midfield to build upon this season. Junior Dana Luhrs (Milford, PA/Delaware Valley) and senior Whitney Russo (Waterville, ME/Waterville) both appeared in all 19 games last year with the latter starting every one and earning second team all-NEC accolades.
After the Pioneers, Saint Francis (PA) claimed fifth place followed by Monmouth in sixth and Robert Morris in seventh. Poised for its inaugural season of NEC competition, Bryant was tabbed for eighth place while Siena rounded out the preseason prognostication in ninth.
The Pioneers open their season on August 29 at Appalachian State. The NEC tournament is set for November 6-7.