Northeast Conference 2012 Preseason Poll

After taking a trip to the NEC championship game in 2011, Mount St. Mary's (8-11, 6-3) hopes to take the experience gained in the tournament and make a run at the title under second year coach B.J. Johnson. Despite losing two-time NEC Defender of the Year Aly Jost to graduation the Mount welcomes back the offense duo of Jen Semler (Baltimore, MD/Perry Hall) and Esther Rufolo (Woodstock, MD/Chapelgate Christian Academy), both All-NEC first team honorees a year ago.Semler posted a team high 38 goals and 15 assists in 2011, highlighted by five hat tricks against league competition, while Rufolo, a two-time all-NEC selection, posted 35 goals and six assists. Rufolo will also be a threat on the circle after recording 52 draw controls in 2011 which ranked her fourth in the league. Underclassman will also play a major role for the Mount this spring as All-Rookie team member Kaitlyn Larrimore (Pylesville, MD/North Hartford) comes off a 18-point freshman campaign, while fellow sophomore Gabe Little (Hampsted, MD/North Carroll) will pick up the slack defensively after tallying a team-high 17 caused turnovers and 29 ground balls in 2011.

Narrowly missing out on last year's NEC playoff after coming up on the short end of a tiebreak could be the motivation Monmouth (10-7, 5-4) needs to capture its fourth NEC title. Under third year coach Denise Wescott, the Hawks return a solid midfield and attacking unit featuring Gianna D'Urso (Fairfield, CT/West Essex),a member of the 2010 All-Rookie and 2011 All-NEC second team. The junior midfielder notched 20 caused turnovers in 2011 and corralled 24 ground balls while contributing to a defense that boosted a league best 9.35 goals against average. On the attacking end, senior Sam Lillo (Short Hills, NJ/Millburn) and junior Molly O'Brien (Kennett Square, PA/Unionville) will lead the way after 29 and 31 goal seasons, respectively, in 2011. Lillo will also be a force to be reckoned with on the circle after she led the team with 34 draw controls. O'Brien's 31 goals ranked second on the team.

After bowing out in the semis to the eventual NEC champions last May, Sacred Heart (6-11, 5-4) will look to reclaim the title they held from 2008-10. With head coach Laura Cook at the helm for her 13th season the Pioneers will look to rebound to the top of the league behind the likes of two-time NEC Rookie of the Week and NEC All-Rookie pick Kelsey Russo (Lindenhurst, NY/Lindenhurst), and All-NEC first team selection Emily Pepe (Esast Quogue, NY/Westhampton (Jacksonville U)). Russo led all NEC freshmen with 32 goals, 11 of which came off free positions, while Pepe served as the teams play maker, generating a squad best 27 assists, which ranked her third in the league. Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY/Sachem East) will be a two-way threat for the Pioneers in her senior season after she gathered 31 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers in 2011 while leading the team with 58 points. The Long Island native, who has been named to the All-NEC second team twice and the first team once, also made a statement on the circle as she nabbed 28 draw controls.

Bryant (8-8, 7-2) and head coach Karen Healy boasted the 2011 NEC Rookie of the Year in Haley Bloom (Hauppauge, NY/St. Anthony's) as well as a terrific freshman class. In 2011 Bloom and her classmates accounted for 62% of Bryant's goals scored and 61% of the team's scoring. Bloom alone accounted five hat tricks en-route to notching 41 points (27 goals, 14 assists). Defensively the Bulldogs tout reigning NEC Goalie of the Year Lauren Filippone (West Babylon, NY/West Babylon), who ranked sixth nationally in save percentage (49.8%), and tenth in saves per game (10.0) and ground balls per game (3.0). Nicole Rettinger (Dix Hills, NY/Half Hollow Hills West),a 2010 NEC All-Rookie selection, will also play a critical role in the Bulldog defense after earning second team All Conference honors as a sophomore. She recorded a team-high 27 caused turnovers and 23 ground balls in 2011 to average 1.69 per game, ranking her third-best in the league.

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