Defending Champion Penn State Berks Earns No. 1 Spot in 2017 NEAC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

Defending Champion Penn State Berks Earns No. 1 Spot in 2017 NEAC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – After winning a fourth-straight conference crown last fall, the Penn State Berks Nittany Lions return to the top spot in the 2017 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) women’s soccer preseason poll.  

Penn State Berks received 13 first-place votes to earn 169 total points. Despite graduating the NEAC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in Dana Sarcinello (Downingtown, Pa.) and Brennan Moyer (Wyomissing, Pa.), the Nittany Lions have a strong nucleus with 11 players and seven starters returning from 2016. First Team All-Conference selection Caitlin Golden (Lumberton, N.J.) is poised to lead the offense after tallying 21 goals and 44 points in 21 games last season. Returners Shelby Baker (Mount Laurel, N.J.), Megan Jardine (Mohrsville, Pa.) and Karina Raykova (Yardley, Pa.) will lead a defensive unit that held its opposition to 0.58 goals per game in 2016. Goalkeeper Paige Elmy (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) also returns to the Nittany Lions after posting a 16-4-1 record with a 0.71 goals-against average last season. Reigning NEAC Coach of the Year Adrian Munteanu hopes to keep improving his 120-55-8 record as he enters his 10th season at Penn State Berks.

Lancaster Bible takes the No. 2 spot in the preseason poll with one first-place vote and seven second-place votes among its 149 points. The Chargers finished the 2016 season as the runner-up of the NEAC Tournament after battling Penn State Berks to double overtime in the conference championship game. First-year head coach Ally Brown takes over a Lancaster Bible team with 12 players and five starters hoping to return to the NEAC playoffs. All-Conference midfielders Raegan Horst (New Holland, Pa.) and Rachel Kumher (Lancaster, Pa.) return for their senior season after combining for 47 points in 2016. Third Team All-Conference selection Maddie Dionne (Landisville, Pa.) will help provide leadership for the defense after appearing in all 23 games last season.

After advancing to the semifinals in 2016, Penn College finished third in the preseason rankings with 131 total points. Eight starters are part of a group of 14 returners on head coach John McNichols’ team that finished with a 9-4 record in conference play last fall. Lauren Herr (Manheim, Pa.) returns to anchor the defense after earning first team all-conference honors last season. The trio of Hailee Hartman (Lampeter, Pa.), Jane Herman (Green Castle, Pa.) and Tiffany Brown (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) are expected to power the offense with the three players totaling 74 points in 2016.

SUNY Poly will enter the 2017 season ranked fourth with 134 points as Jess Skelton takes over as the Wildcats’ head coach. Eight of nine returning players will serve as starters with Nakeya Stedman (Sauquoit, N.Y.) and Brittany Waterbury (Remsen, N.Y.) coming off of second team all-conference honors in 2016. Stedman recorded 40 points while Waterbury contributed 18 points in 20 games. First Team All-Conference goalkeeper Angela Bartlett (West Winfield, N.Y.) returns for her final season after finishing last season with a 13-5-1 record and a 1.34 goals-against average.

Penn State Abington rounds out the top five in the preseason poll with 124 total points. After suffering a heartbreaking loss in the 2016 NEAC Quarterfinals, the Nittany Lions will look to first-year head coach Dan Mannella and a group of nine returners to make a deeper run in this year’s conference tournament. Michelle Latronica (Philadelphia, Pa.) returns to lead the offense after scoring 14 goals and six assists last season. Greta Sheridan (Horsham, Pa.) and Jessica Domansky (Jenkintown, Pa.) will help provide a veteran presence in the back while Sam Friend (Philadelphia, Pa.) prepares for 2017 after recording a 6-6-1 mark and a 1.51 goals-against average last year.

The full 2017 women’s soccer preseason rankings can be found below:

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1. Penn State Berks (13) 169
2. Lancaster Bible (1) 149
3. Penn College 131
4. SUNY Poly 129
5. Penn State Abington 124
6. Keuka College 120
7. Wells College 92
8. Morrisville State College 89
9. Cazenovia College 80
10. Bryn Athyn College 67
11. SUNY Cobleskill 40
12. Wilson College 35
13.  Gallaudet University 34
14. College of St. Elizabeth 15

 

The preseason poll rankings were conducted by the NEAC women’s soccer coaches, with each coach ranking all teams but their own using a staggered points system (13 points for a first-place vote, 12 points for second, etc.). The 2017 NEAC women’s soccer season will begin Friday, Sept. 1, with a full season schedule available on the NEAC website.

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College.  Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Pennsylvania State University – Altoona (M Volleyball), and Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s tennis. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.