Top 10 Preview
East Stroudsburg, Stonehill face big challenges in first weekend
No. 1 West Chester
The defending national champions start their season Friday with a road trip to Adelphi before hosting Lindenwood on Saturday. The Golden Rams, who have claimed the past two national titles, will return six starters but will be replacing goalkeeper Kristin Arnold. Third-year head coach Amy Cohen does return Kelsi Lykens, who scored 16 goals and had 13 assists last season.
Adelphi went 8-12 last season, but started the year 0-8. Lindenwood ended last season with a 10-6 record.
No. 2 Shippensburg
Shippensburg opens its season with a game Saturday against Saint Michael’s and one on Sunday against Southern Connecticut State. The previous two years, the Red Raiders have been knocked out by West Chester in the playoffs but have 16 returning players including reigning NFHCA Division II Player of the Year Bre White and two-time All-American center back Katie Shoop.
Saint Michael’s has 22 returning players from its team that went 5-13 last season. Shippensburg has won 14 of 17 meetings against Southern Connecticut State, a team that went 8-10 in 2012.
No. 3 Bloomsburg
The Huskies welcome their 13 new players by playing one game this weekend, a home game against No. 10 Stonehill on Saturday. The Huskies have had a whole offseason to stew about missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001. The top four scorers from last year’s team are gone, leaving Brittany Matthews (six goals, 15 point) as the team’s returning scorer.
No. 4 Millersville
The Marauders host Lindenwood on Friday for their first game of the year and will travel to Mercyhurst for a game on Sunday. Six starters from last year’s team are gone, but 11 of the 15 returning players scored at least one goal last season. Two transfers, Hannah Whitman and Jayde Kauffman are extected to make their Millersville debut this weekend.
Mercyhurst went 6-12 last season, and lost 6-0 last year to Millersville.
No. 5 Merrimack
The Warriors start their season with a pair of top-10 opponents, traveling to No. 8 Bentley on Thursday and going to East Stroudsburg on Saturday. Merrimack made the national semifinals last season but lost to UMass-Lowell. Leading the returners is Candace Waldie, the country’s leader in points per game with 24 goals and 13 assists in 2012.
The goalkeeper position is up for grabs between junior Gina Rosinski and sophomore Madison Davis following the graduation of Kerri Bergquist.
No. 6 Indiana (Pa.)
A trip to South Carolina begins the season for Indiana (Pa.), who opens at Newberry on Saturday and at Limestone on Sunday. The Crimson Hawks made the national quarterfinal last season and return eight starters from that team. Kate Bruce returns as the leading scorer after posting 15 points last season.
Saturday’s game will only be the second in Newberry’s history while Limestone set a single-season school-record 13 wins last season.
No. 8 Bentley
Bentley will look for its first win of the season when it hosts Oberlin on Saturday. The Falcons dropped their opening game 4-3 on Thursday to Merrimack in overtime though Leah Winer, Meghan Talerman and Becca Moore all scored in the loss.
Oberlin dropped its opener after going 4-11 in 2012.
No. 9 East Stroudsburg
The Warriors possibly have the toughest weekend schedule this week, hosting both No. 5 Merrimack and No. 10 Stonehill on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. East Stroudsburg is coming off a down 6-12 year but looks primed for a bounce back with 2012 leading scorer Ally Roth (10 goals, 28 points) and Jessica Lawville (12 goals) both returning.
No. 10 Stonehill
Possibly the biggest challenger to East Stroudsburg for the title of having the toughest opening weekend is Stonehill with trips to No. 3 Bloomsburg on Saturday and No. 9 East Stroudsburg on Sunday. The Skyhawks went 9-10 last season and lost in the first round of the Northeast Conference tournament.
Returning for Stonehill are leading scorer Devin Ingersoll (12 goals, 25 points) and Erika Kelly, who had eight goals as a freshman last year.