Northeast Conference 2011 Preseason Poll

Now in her second year in West Long Branch, Denise Wescott has set her sights on a fourth NEC championship for perennial title contender Monmouth (9-9, 7-2 NEC). The Hawks are the only program to have qualified for each of the 13 NEC Tournaments and have won 85 percent of their NEC regular season matches since the league began sponsored the sport in 1998. Wescott brings back five senior starters, including a pair of NEC second team all-stars in senior midfielder Carissa Franzi (Fairfield, NJ/West Essex) and senior defender Allison Geoghan (Highland, MD/River Hill). An all-around performer who was tabbed to the NEC All-Tournament team, Franzi led the Hawks and ranked in the NEC top-10 with 45 ground balls and 26 caused turnovers. She tallied 19 times on the year and won 33 draws. The Hawks allowed under eight goals per game in league play, due in part to the play of Geoghan. Geoghan played a team-high 1,056 minutes on the year, collected 16 ground balls and caused 11 turnovers. With the team's three leading scorers lost to graduation, look for senior attacker Rachel Feirstein (St. James, NY/Smithtown East) - a former NEC Rookie of the Year who had 20 goals in 2010 - and junior attacker Molly O'Brien (Kennett Square, PA/Unionville) (18 goals) to pick up the slack. Gianna D'Urso (Fairfield, NJ/West Essex) earned NEC All-Rookie recognition as a freshman defender last season in support of keeper Kirby Mundorf (Cambridge, MD/Seton Keough), who returns for her senior season between the pipes. Like Franzi, she too earned a spot on the 2010 NEC All-Tournament team and was a two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Week.

Mount St. Mary's (8-9, 6-3 NEC) begins a new era with B.J. Lucey taking over the reigns of the program. Lucey, who served as an assistant coach from 2006-10 at Penn State, will attempt to lead the Mountaineers to their ninth straight NEC Tournament appearance. With seven returning starters, including one of the NEC's top defenders in Aly Jost (Abingdon, MD/Bel Air), Lucey will have plenty to work with. Jost, a senior, was the 2009 NEC Defensive Player of the Year and is a two-time first team All-NEC award winner. She ranked second on the club last season with 24 caused turnovers and finished third on the Mountaineers with 34 ground balls. She is flanked by senior defender Lucy Pompa (Baltimore, MD/Bryn Mawr School), a 2010 NEC All-Tournament team honoree, who caused 21 turnovers and ranked second on the club with 38 ground balls and 40 draws. Junior midfielder Esther Rufolo (Woodstock, MD/Chapelgate Christian Academy) earned second team All-Conference accolades a year ago. She is the team's leading returning goal scorer, having found the back of the net 25 times last season. Her 47 draw controls were the fourth-best mark in the league (2.76/game). Sophomore midfielder Jordan Certeza (Baltimore, MD/Baltimore Lutheran) comes off an impressive freshman campaign in which she posted 45 points to rank second on the Mount and finished fourth in the NEC with 1.35 assists per game. She was a two-time NEC Rookie of the Week honoree and was voted onto the NEC All-Rookie team at season's end. Junior Brigid McTavish (Mount Air, MD/South Carroll) returns in goal.

Robert Morris (7-8, 5-4 NEC) fell just short of earning its first-ever NEC playoff bid last season, but finished over .500 in league play for a second consecutive season with a 5-4 mark. Now in her seventh year, head coach Katy Phillips will field a team laden with underclassmen, including 14 freshmen and just three seniors. The youthful Colonial squad lost leading scorer Alana Beck to graduation, but returns second team All-NEC midfielder Ashley Trombetta (Sykesville, MD/Century). Trombetta, a senior, paced the Colonials with 19 assists, and finished second on the club in goals (28), points (47), ground balls (32) and draw controls (30). She ranked fifth in the conference with 1.27 assists per game and was also the NEC's ninth-leading point producer with 3.13 per outing. Trombetta will line up in the midfield alongside junior Colleen O'Donnell (Portland, OR/St. Mary's Academy) and sophomore Tara Southworth (Westminster, MD/Westminster). O'Donnell paced the team in with 20 caused turnovers and 33 ground balls, and chipped in with 19 goals. Southworth recorded 11 points and collected 24 ground balls en-route to NEC All-Rookie accolades.

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