FAIRFIELD, CT (February 9, 2011) - The Sacred Heart women's lacrosse team was picked as a co-favorite to take home their fourth-straight Northeast Conference Championship this spring in the 2011 Coaches Poll released Wednesday by the league office. The Pioneers received a pair of first place votes in this year's poll and will enter the season as a favorite to capture the crown.
Quinnipiac shared the top-spot with Sacred Heart and received three first place votes. Monmouth picked up five first place nods despite being picked third. Mount St. Mary's and Robert Morris tied for fourth in the poll, followed by Wagner in sixth and Bryant in seventh. Saint Francis (PA) was tabbed eighth with Long Island and Central Connecticut State rounding out the ten-team field.
Despite losing last season's NEC Player and Goalkeeper of Year to graduation in Carissa Hauser and Chelsea Wagner, head coach Laura Cook has the 2011 version of the Pioneers poised for yet another title run. SHU is coming off their third-straight title in 2010, defeating fellow favorite Quinnipiac in all three NEC Championship games. The Pioneers will attempt to become the first team in league history to claim four-striaght Northeast Conference Championships.
Offensively, the Pioneers bring back juniors Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY) and Kaitlin Rochler (Wading River, NY) and welcome the return of senior Jessica Ingrilli (Wantagh, NY) after missing the last two seasons. Kmiotek was a first team All-NEC midfielder last season and tied for the team lead in goals with 47 on the year. She was second on the team with 58 points and ranked in the NEC top-10 in goals (sixth, 2.47/game) and points (tenth, 3.05/game).
Rochler scored 23 goals and dished out 12 assists last season from her position on attack. She had three game winners and turned in a four goal effort in the Pioneer's win over Mount St. Mary's in the NEC Tournament Semifinal. Ingrilli was a key contributor as a freshman to the 2008 NEC Championship squad. She was a second team All-NEC pick as a rookie after recording 28 goals with a team leading 50 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers.
On defense, seniors Elizabeth Drehwing (Wyckoff, NJ) and Nicole Messina (Smithtown, NY) will anchor a defense that allowed an NEC-low 5.82 goals against average in conference play. Drehwing earned recognition on the NEC All-Tournament team last season.
The 2011 season gets underway on Saturday, February 26th when SHU plays host to Brown at 11:30 am on Campus Field.