FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Four-time defending champion Salisbury was the unanimous selection to continue its title streak in the 2017 Capital Athletic Conference Field Hockey Preseason Poll. The Sea Gulls tallied six first-place votes and 36 points to secure first place in a vote among the seven conference head coaches.
Christopher Newport took second in the poll with 30 points and the other first-place vote, with Mary Washington close behind in third place with 27 points. York earned fourth place with 22 points, followed by St. Mary's (16 points), Frostburg State (11 points) and Wesley (6 points).
2017 CAC Field Hockey Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|2.||Christopher Newport||30 (1)|
Salisbury notched its fourth straight CAC title in 2016, defeating Mary Washington 8-0 for the program's 20th overall conference crown. The Sea Gulls then made a deep run into the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the national semifinals before falling to Tufts, 1-0.
Five of the seven CAC squads will advance to the conference playoffs, with the championship game set for Saturday, Nov. 4. The 2017 campaign begins on Friday, Sept. 1, with CAC play set to begin on Sept. 30.
Below is a brief preview of each team heading into the 2017 season:
After securing the No. 2 seed in the CAC playoffs and finishing the 2016 season with a 14-5 record, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT enters 2017 with high expectations. Head coach Carrie Moura's squad welcomes back four All-Conference performers and four of the team's five leading scorers from last year. Headlining the veteran contingent will be reigning All-Region selections Rachael Allshouse and Brittan Muir, who are back for their junior campaigns.
FROSTBURG STATE will begin the 2017 season with a change at the helm, as Kaitlin Boerman was hired as the 16th head field hockey coach in program history in July. The Bobcats return four seniors in Elizabeth Davis (defense), Ivy Meissner (midfield), Savannah Neubert (defense) and Nicole Leighty (goalkeeper) who will power the Bobcats this season. Boerman and the coaching staff are expecting the 12 returners to lead the way this season, but are also excited about the seven newcomers that will begin their Bobcat careers in the fall. Meissner will provide a veteran presence after starting in 18 games in 2016. She tallied her lone assist of the season against Virginia Wesleyan last September.
MARY WASHINGTON will return 10 starters from last year, that was one win away from winning the CAC Championship. First team All-CAC selection, Lauren Hopkins, will look to lead the Eagles in scoring for a second straight year. She will get some help in that department from seniors Morgan LaRowe, Allegra Massey-Elim and sophomore Lexie Dixson. Jessica Cavolt will be back in goal with Erin Kaila, Noor Varjabedian, and Mackenzie Burnett leading the pack on defense.
ST. MARY'S second-year head coach Jessica Lanham is excited about the 2017 campaign. Coach Lanham has brought in a talented group of 10 newcomers to complement a veteran nucleus of 13 letter winners. The trio of team captains Megan Moore, Alyssa Thompson, and Kara Feidelseit will work with coach Lanham to develop great chemistry and lead the way through a challenging schedule.
SALISBURY enters the 2017 season as the defending CAC champion, coming off the program's 20th conference championship. The Sea Gulls advanced to the national semifinals last season, and look to build off that momentum, led by a four-member senior class of forwards Natalie Wilkinson and Hayley Dize, midfielder Nicole Lindner and goalkeeper Tressie Windsor. Windsor was named to the All-CAC second team last season, while sophomore defender Jillian Hughes was named the league's Rookie of the Year.
WESLEY will look to improve their win total for third consecutive year in 2017 season. The team will lean on the senior leadership of forward/midfielder Morgan Gannon, forward Kelsey Fromal and defender Emily Wagner. The defense will be led by junior Kasey Fry and sophomore Natalie Quigley. Fry finished second in the CAC in defensive saves (9) in 2016 while Quigley added three defensive saves of her own during her freshman season. Sophomore Sidney Knott, who saw a majority of time in net, returns for the Wolverines after placing fourth in the CAC in save percentage (.708).
YORK returns a wealth of talent from last year's 13-win squad. York features a new head coach as Katie Fost, a Salisbury graduate, comes to the Spartan program from Bates as she replaces Kaitlyn Hamilton who took the Franklin & Marshall job in early August. The Spartans said goodbye to All-CAC performers Sydney LaMarsh and Alexa Taylor but the Green and White returns nine starters including All-CAC performers Ali Posey, Lindsay Nye and Autumn Mallory. Nye had a great sophomore year after earning the 2015 CAC Rookie-of-the-Year, leading CAC in scoring with 41 points and in goals with 18. Posey earned her third All-CAC honor with 30 points on 13 goals and four assists. Mallory finished the year with 19 points on nine goals and one assist. Junior Eve Hauptle returns in goal as she finished the campaign with a 1.95 goals against average and a 67.9% save percentage. She registered five shutouts in her 1223:34 of action. Defensive starters Jennifer Morrissette and Kenidy Kubitz will head line a defense that will need to replace LaMarsh and Taylor.