Smith returns for her junior year after being named the NFHCA East Region and NE10 Player of the Year as a sophomore. (PHOTO BY Jim Stankiewicz)
Skyhawks picked second in NE10 preseason coaches' poll
EASTON, Mass. (August 16, 2017) – The Stonehill College field hockey program is once again among the preseason favorites in the Northeast-10 Conference, as selected by the league's 13 head coaches it was announced today.
Stonehill is ranked second in the NE10 preseason poll with 139 points, collecting two first place votes, while Saint Anselm College is picked to repeat as regular season champions with 147 points and six first place votes. Stonehill and Saint Anselm both earned NCAA Tournament bids a year ago, with the Hawks posting a 3-1 first round win over the Skyhawks in Manchester, New Hampshire. LIU Post, the reigning NE10 Tournament Champions and NCAA Championships finalist is ranked third (135 points) with two first place votes, with Merrimack College (119) fourth, also with two first place votes. Adelphi University (116) rounds out the preseason top five and collected the remaining first place vote. The NE10 is also just one year away from expanding to 14 teams, with the University of New Haven competing as a non-conference opponent in the league round robin in its first intercollegiate season this fall.
Stonehill head coach Susan Ciufo, entering her third season at the helm, returns 17 letterwinners, including eight starters, from the 2016 squad which posted a 14-6 record overall, including 9-3 in NE10 play to finish in a three-way tie for second in the regular season standings. The Skyhawks earned an NCAA Tournament bid for the fourth straight year and eighth time in program history overall.
Junior All-America forward Kacie Smith (Norwood, Massachusetts/Norwood), the reigning Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) East Region and NE10 Player of the Year, leads Stonehill's list of returnees after leading the Conference with 22 goals and 49 points last season, ranking second nationally for both, scoring a team-high seven gamewinning goals and dishing out five assists. She enters the 2017 season ranked sixth in program history with 36 career goals and seventh with 84 points, adding 12 assists in 41 career games played over her first two seasons with the Skyhawks.
Freedman earned second team All-NE10 honors after playing every minute in the Skyhawks cage last season. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)
Smith will be supported offensively by classmate Carly Andersen (Cheshire, Connecticut/Canterbury School), who had a breakout year last fall with eight goals and an assist for 17 points. Senior Alexandria Sylvia (Brockton, Massachusetts/Brockton) dished out a team-high seven assists to go with five goals for 17 points last year, while classmate Alexandra Dillon (Canton, Massachusetts/Canton) chipped in with five assists for the Skyhawks.
Junior goalkeeper Sara Freedman (Hopkinton, Massachusetts/Hopkinton), a second team All-NE10 selection last fall, played all 1,405 minutes in the Stonehill cage a year ago and ranked seventh in the Conference with a 1.49 goals against average, to go with a .803 save percentage (6th NE10), while averaging 6.1 saves per game (3rd). She will be aided defensively by Dillon and junior MacKenzie Greenberg (Mendon, Massachusetts/Hopedale), two returning starters on the Skyhawks backline.
Rounding out Stonehill's returning starters are seniors Alexandra Gerew (Harrisville, Rhode Island/Pomfret School) and Hannah Gifford (Goffstown, New Hampshire/Goffstown), while sophomore Michaela Antonellis (Watertown, Massachusetts/Watertown) also saw significant time during her first collegiate season.
Stonehill opens its 2017 season on Saturday, September 2, when it visits Millersville (Pa.) University, an NCAA semifinalist last season, at noon. The Skyhawks home opener is Wednesday, September 6, when they host American International College for a non-conference matchup at 7 p.m. Stonehill's NE10 opener is Wednesday, September 20, at rival Bentley University at 6 p.m.
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