MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Defending New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) champions Elms College tallied 48 points, including six of the seven first place votes, to land the top spot in the NECC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches Poll. The 2018 NECC Coach of the Year, Rosa Riccobono, will return for her second year at the helm for the Blazers. Elms will return seven starters from a season ago, including the NECC Player of the Year, Haley Richard (Monson, Mass.). The junior midfielder led the league in goals, with 61, a season ago. She will be joined by fellow first team All-NECC performer Vanessa Vurno (Salem, Conn.), who led the league in assists with 33 and points with 87.
Nabbing the second place spot is newcomer New England College, who collected 42 points and the remaining first place vote. The Pilgrims are headed by Meg Leo, who is entering her fifth season. She will return 11 starters from 2018, including the North Atlantic Conference's (NAC) leading scorer in Tara Bainbridge (South Hadley, Mass.). The senior attack scored 105 goals, and was named first team All-NAC for her performance. Fellow first team All-NAC performer, defender Kaitlyn Berry (Canterbury, N.H.), will also return for the Pilgrims.
Landing third in the polls is Southern Vermont College, who finished with 36 total points. The Mountaineers will look to first-year head coach, Paxton Boyer, to lead an experienced squad with eight returning starters. Among those returning for the Mountaineers is first team All-NECC performer, and 2018 NECC Rookie of the Year, Alex Safford (Burnt Hills, N.Y.). Safford's 55 goals were good for third in the league, and her 60 points were good for fourth. Defensively, Southern Vermont returns first team All-NECC performer Juliena D'Alessio (Berlin, N.Y.).
Bay Path University and Mitchell College tied for the fourth spot, totaling 21 points a piece. Bay Path is helmed by first-year head coach Sophia White. 2018 NECC Goalkeeper of the Year, Kristina Tran (Agawam, Mass.), will be back in net for the Wildcats. Her 110 saves in conference play, and overall save percentage of 50.7 both led the NECC a season ago.
Mitchell will be led by third-year head coach Erika Blozie, and will return every player from last year's team, which qualified for the NECC tournament. The Mariners will look to senior Francesca Pinard (Arlington, Mass.) to shore up their defense, as she comes off a first team All-NECC selection in 2018.
Rounding out the poll is Becker College and Dean College, who collected 20 points and seven points, respectively. Both teams are returning a number of starters from 2018, and look forward to promising seasons.
2019 NECC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches Poll
Elms- 48 (6)
New England College- 42 (1)
Southern Vermont- 36
T4. Bay Path- 21
T4. Mitchell- 21
6. Becker- 20
7. Dean- 7