Senior All-American Erika Kelly returns for her final season as the program all-time leading scorer. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
Defending NE-10 Tournament Champions picked third in Conference preseason poll, ranked fifth in Penn Monto/NFHCA Division II preseason poll
EASTON, Mass. (August 31, 2015) – Defending Northeast-10 Tournament champions Stonehill College has earned high marks in the Conference's preseason coaches' poll the league announced and is also ranked in the top five of the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division II poll which has been released.
Stonehill is picked third in the Northeast-10's preseason coaches' poll with 125 points, receiving four of the 13 first place votes. Defending NE-10 regular season champions LIU Post leads the preseason poll with 135 points and five first place votes, with Adelphi University (127 points) second with two first place votes. Merrimack College (97) and Bentley University (89) round out the preseason top five, while Assumption College (88) claims the final predicted postseason spot in sixth. The remaining two first place votes were split between seventh place American International College (82 points) and ninth place Saint Michael's College (69).
Stonehill has also received a preseason No. 5 national ranking in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division II poll, receiving one first place vote. Defending national champions Millersville University is the preseason No. 1-ranked team in the poll, with West Chester University second, LIU Post third and Shippensburg University fourth. The Skyhawks have five of the programs ranked in the national preseason top ten on its 2015 schedule starting with No. 2 West Chester on Sunday at noon.
Senior Maggie Travers will serve as co-captain with Kelly and lead the Skyhawks defense. (PHOTO BY Michael DeZarn)
Stonehill, under the direction of first year head coach Susan Ciufo, returns 18 letterwinners and six starters from its 2014 squad which captured the NE-10 Tournament title and earned its sixth NCAA Tournament bid. The Skyhawks earned a first round bye in the NCAA Tournament and appeared in the national semifinals for the fourth time in program history last fall.
Heading the list of returnees are senior All-Americans Erika Kelly (Watertown, Massachusetts/Watertown) and Elizabeth Thornton (Needham, Massachusetts/Needham). Kelly, who has been named a co-captain this season along with classmate Maggie Travers (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate), is a two-time All-American and the reigning Longstreth/NFHCA North Region Player of the Year. The program's all-time leading scorer with 71 goals and 152 points in 60 career games played, Kelly posted a team-leading 56 points on a team-high 25 goals to go with six assists in 20 games played as a junior. Thornton contributed seven goals and an assist for 15 points in 21 games her junior season.
Stonehill returns its top three scorers from a year ago, including Kelly. Senior Lauren Giordano (Watertown, Massachusetts/Watertown) posted 13 goals and four assists for 30 points last season, while sophomore Alexandria Sylvia (Brockton, Massachusetts/Brockton) added ten goals and an assist for 21 points as a freshman. Junior Sarah Morse (Westminster, Massachusetts/Oakmont Regional) dished out a team-high 12 assists in 2014 with a pair of goals for 16 points, while Travers was a key member of a Skyhawks defensive unit which ranked fourth in the NE-10 with a 1.70 team goals against average.
Stonehill opens its 2015 season this weekend with a trip to Pennsylvania, starting with a season-opener at No. 6 East Stroudsburg University on Saturday, September 5, at 1 p.m. The Skyhawks then travel to No. 2 West Chester on Sunday at noon. Stonehill opens its home schedule the following Saturday, September 12, when it hosts Southern New Hampshire University for a non-conference matchup at W.B. Mason Stadium at noon. The Skyhawks open their NE-10 slate on Saturday, September 19, at Saint Michael's at 11 a.m.