FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart women's lacrosse team was picked to finish fourth in the Northeast Conference on Wednesday, as the conference released its annual preseason coaches poll.
The Pioneers reached the NEC Tournament for the first time since 2012 last season, going 8-8 on the season and taking regular season co-champion Bryant to overtime in the semifinals. Senior Caitlin Delaney looks to build on her stellar 2016 campaign, where she was named First Team All-Conference. Delaney led the NEC in ground balls per game at 3.62 and was third with 3.31 points per game. She led the Pioneers with 35 goals, 18 assists, 58 ground balls, and 44 caused turnovers.
Sacred Heart returns four of its top five scorers from a year ago. Alyssa Pearce was second in scoring behind Delaney in 2016 with 46 points on 30 goals and 16 assists. Averi Farhat tallied 24 goals in her sophomore season with Kylie Calandra adding 13 goals and 13 assists. Goalie Paige Hammick was fourth in the NEC in goals against average at 10.40.
Bryant topped the preseason poll with seven first-place votes. Wagner, the defending NEC Tournament champions, was second and garnered the only other first-place vote. Robert Morris was third, followed by the Pioneers, Mount St. Mary's, and Central Connecticut. Saint Francis U and LIU Brooklyn rounded out the poll.
Sacred Heart opens the 2017 season at Brown on Feb. 18. The Pioneers open their home slate at Campus Field on March 1 at 3 p.m. against Quinnipiac.
2017 NEC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Bryant (7 first-place votes)
2. Wagner (1 first-place vote)
3. Robert Morris
4. Sacred Heart
5. Mount St. Mary's
6. Central Connecticut
7. Saint Francis U
8. LIU Brooklyn