Top 10 preview
Three of top-four teams are off, including No. 1 Tufts
No. 1 Tufts:
No. 2 Montclair State:
Fri. Aug. 30: at Eastern
Sat. Aug. 31: vs. Rensselaer
Montclair State kicks off its season Friday against 2012 NCAA tournament team Eastern before playing Rensselaer in its home opener. The Red Hawks, last season’s national runner up, set a school record for wins in a season last year (22) and was picked this preseason to win the New Jersey Athletic Conference. Last year’s leading scorer, Jennifer Tafro (15 goals, 14 assists), returns for her senior season and was named an All-American last year.
No. 3 Middlebury:
No. 4 Bowdoin:
No. 5 Salisbury:
Fri. Aug. 30: vs. SUNY Geneseo (at Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
Sat. Aug. 31: vs. TBD (at Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
The Sea Gulls have always played an up-tempo style, getting quickly up and down the field. But with a team with young but experienced talent, and a number of newcomers who are expected to step in and make an immediate impact, Salisbury may just turn up the pace a little more. Salisbury debuts that offense Friday against SUNY Geneseo and will be playing a yet-to-be-determined opponent Saturday. Four players are gone from last year’s team that got knocked out of the second round of the NCAA tournament while SUNY Geneseo did not qualify for the NCAA tournament.
No. 6 Mary Washington:
Sat. Aug. 31 at Rhodes
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. Hendrix (at Memphis)
The Eagles, who finished third in the final 2012 poll, open the season on the road at Rhodes and stay there for a Sunday game against Hendrix. Mary Washington fell to Montclair State in the NCAA semifinals last year and returns All-American Caitlin Baker, who set the school record for 16 assists last year, from that team. Rhodes won the SAA conference tournament but failed to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Hendrix finished last season at 6-9.
No. 7 Franklin & Marshall:
Fri. Aug. 30: vs. Elizabethtown
Franklin & Marshall will be looking for its fifth consecutive winning season and third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament under head coach Melissa Mariano, who enters her sixth year at the helm of the program this fall. The Diplomats must find a way to replace a group of seven seniors from last year’s team that was knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Last year’s squad did set the school record for wins (18), consecutive wins (18) and goals-against average (.76).
No. 8 Messiah:
Fri. Aug. 30: at Stevens Institute
Head coach Brooke Good starts her second season with Messiah on the road at Stevens Institute. The Falcons made the NCAA tournament last year but were knocked out in the second round while Stevens Institute narrowly missed making the tournament last year. Brooke Sands, who scored nine goals and had three assists, had the most points last season of any returner.
No. 9 Christopher Newport:
Sat. Aug. 31: vs. Hendrix (at Memphis)
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. Rhodes (at Memphis)
Ready to continue the program's streak of seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, the Captains welcome back a strong contingent from last year's roster. Leading the way is senior All-American Marlene Lichty, a 19-game starter who added three goals to go along with an outstanding defensive effort. Christopher Newport reached the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2012, and its opener Saturday will be Hendrix head coach Rebecca Begley’s first game leading the Warriors.
No. 10 William Smith:
Fri. Aug. 30: vs. Oswego State
The Herons will look to get their offense going early with a home game against Oswego State Friday. Last season, William Smith ranked 11th in the nation in goals per game and return nine of the 10 leading scorers from that team. The one piece missing from that offense is leading-scorer Annie Kietzman, who score d 17 goals last season. Oswego finished last year with a 6-10 record.