Despite being picked to finish fifth in the 2010 NEC preseason poll, Saint Francis (PA) (15-5-2, 8-2 NEC) defied the predictions and walked away with the NEC Championship trophy . The Red Flash, who took Ohio State to double overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, sported the 2010 NEC Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year. The Red Flash returns all of three of those honorees for 2011 in junior Tesa McKibben (Cogan Station, PA/Montoursville), head coach Brenda van Stralen and sophomore Barbara Maros de Carvalho (San Paulo, Brazil/Colegio Sagrado Coraco de Jesus). McKibben, a forward, added first team All-Conference honors, registered four NEC Player of the Week awards and nabbed NSCAA All-Northeast Region first team accolades during a superb 2010 campaign. She led the league in scoring with 15 goals and 39 points, and ranked second with nine assists. McKibben was also the seventh-leading point producer in the nation and finished ninth in goals. Maros de Carvalho, a two-time NEC Rookie of the Week honoree, led the league with 11 assists and ranked eighth in the nation in helpers. The forward picked up second team All-Conference honors and was one of just three freshman to earn NSCAA All-Northeast Region (second team) honors. Senior midfielder Traci Flick (Montoursville, PA/Montoursville) also adds experience as she notched two goals and three assists on the season, en-route to garnering first-team All-Conference and All-Tournament honors, as well as a spot on the NSCAA All-Northeast Region third team.
Despite just missing out on qualifying for last season's NEC Tournament, Monmouth (10-6-2, 5-3-2 NEC) returns a talented group of sophomores who will look to bring the championship crown back to the Jersey Shore. With 14th-year head coach Krissy Turner at the helm, the Hawks will look to fill the void left by the graduation of All-Conference standouts Ali Kliment, Mary Wilks and Lia Fierro. Sophomores Dana Costello (Jackson, NJ/Jackson Memorial) and Alexandra Baca (Bridgewater, NJ/Bridgewater Raritan) are two key components for the Blue & White. Costello finished fourth in the league in goals scored (eight), kicked in three game winning goals and also added an Rookie of the Week honor to her list of accolades. Baca, a stalwart defensive midfielder, also picked up Rookie of the Week honors after showing off her offensive prowess by netting the game winner against Wagner in October. Courtney Snyder (Oradell, NJ/River Dell) is one of just four seniors on the squad. Last season she assisted on the game winning goal in 1-0 conquest of Garden State rival and #17-ranked Rutgers, and totalled eight points on the year. The Hawks also welcome UConn transfer Ally Mancino (Belle Mead, NJ/Montgomery), who played 10 games in goal for the Huskies over her first two seasons.
After falling just shy of capturing the 2010 title, defending NEC regular season champion Long Island (15-3-3, 8-1-1 NEC) will look to return to the championship stage in 2011. Head coach Tracey Bartholomew and the Blackbirds return a host of talented players, including 2010 NEC Goalkeeper of the Year Jessica Sexton (Rochester, NY/Greece Arcadia), along with a pair of second team All-Conference picks in junior Jeanette Dolmetsch (Northville, MI/Northville) and senior Ariana Calderon (Sacramento, CA/St. Francis). Sexton, a sophomore, led the nation in goals against average (0.23) and save percentage (.934) in 2010, marks that rank her seventh and fourth, respectively, in the NCAA single season record books. The New York native tallied ten shutouts to break the Long Island record and also added NEC Rookie and Defensive Player of the Week honors to her portfolio. Dolmetsch will also play a major role in anchoring the Blackbird defense, which notched 15 shut outs and allowed just one goal in NEC play in 2010. Dolmetsch earned an NEC Defensive Player of the Week honor and CS360 Primetime Performer award a year ago. Calderon, a member of the NEC All-Tournament team, will spark the LIU attack from her forward position. She led the team with 14 points (six goals, two assists) last season, including three game-winning tallies.
Central Connecticut State (9-9-2, 5-3-2 NEC) will look to add to its streak of nine consecutive NEC Tournament appearances and league-best seven titles. Veteran head coach Mike D'Arcy welcomes back sophomores Allison Kelley (Coventry, RI/La Salle Academy) and Nikola Deiter (New Castle, Australia/Corowa), who will provide a solid foundation for the Blue Devils to build upon. Kelley, a midfielder, finished 2010 tied for third in the league in assists (six), and earned both second team All-NEC and All-Tournament honors. Deiter, a sophomore goalkeeper, recorded six shutouts on the year and was the only NEC freshman in 2010 to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team. Sophomore defender Jewel Robinson (Farmington, CT/Farmington) spearheaded a stingy CCSU defense and was a second team All-Conference selection last season.
Following a successful 2010 campaign which featured a trip to the NEC tournament and penalty shootout setback to eventual champion Saint Francis (PA), Quinnipiac (7-7-4, 5-2-3 NEC) and head coach Dave Clarke return the All-Conference duo of Furtuna Velaj (Stamford, CT/Westhill) and Jillian Strassner (Avon, CT/Avon) to the pitch. Velaj, a three-time first team All-Conference and NSCAA All-Northeast region member, and two-time All-New England honoree, recorded 19 points (seven goals, five assists) last season, good for fifth in the conference. Over her first three years, she has racked up 33 goals and 80 points to lead all NEC returnees. Strassner, a junior, earned second-team All-League plaudits after she recorded three game-winners and finished out the year with five goals and two assists.
Sacred Heart (8-6-5, 4-3-3 NEC) and seventh year head coach Kim Banner will look to climb the ranks of the NEC with a blend of experience and youth. Senior forwards Samantha Kee (Haskell, NJ/Lakeland Regional) and Amanda Stiles (Miller Place, NY/Miller Place) will lend a hand on offense, while sophomore Alyssa Brandofino (East Northport, NY/Commack) is a key performer on the defensive end. Kee, who finished second on the team in scoring with 12 points, will join up with Stiles, who paced the team with 13 points on four goals and five assists. Brandofino, who earned a Defender of the Week nod during 2010, dished out six assists over the course of the season. Sophomore forward Lucy Gildein (Topsfield, MA/Masconomet) picked up a rare NEC Rookie and Player of the Week dual honor as a freshman after notching seven points in two in early September matches.
Up one spot in this year's poll, Bryant (5-13-2, 3-6-1 NEC) and head coach Chris Flint will rely on New Hampshire natives Kaitlyn Hinck (Bow, NH/Bow) and Krista Johnstone (Dover, NH/Dover) to lead team offensively. The veteran forwards paced the team with three goals apiece and six points in 2010. For Hinck, a junior, it marked the third year in a row in which she lead the Bulldogs in scoring. After a fruitful rookie season that saw her start all 20 matches, sophomore midfielder Ari Goldberg (East Bridgewater, MA/East Bridgewater) will look to pick up where she left off. She recorded two goals and an assist in her first collegiate season.
John Kowalski and his Robert Morris (6-11-2, 3-6-1 NEC) Colonials return a veteran team, hungry to qualify for the NEC tournament in 2011. Senior forward Ayana Davis (Mt. Laurel, NJ/Holy Cross) led the team in 2010 with six goals and 13 points, and ranked second on the circuit with four game-winning markers. Classmate Jessica Sharik (North Huntington, PA/Norwin), a midfielder, dished out a team-high four assists. The Colonial defense, led by junior goalkeeper Jessica Olin (New Port Richey, FL/River Ridge), will look to be staunch again in 2011 after the team notched six shutouts last season. Olin, who picked up a Defensive Player of Week nod last October, recorded an .804 save percentage and led the league in saves (121) and saves per game (6.72).
Wagner (6-13-2, 2-6-2 NEC) jumps two spots in this year's poll and returns key pieces on both offense and defense. Junior forward Julie Vigliotti (Staten Island, NY/Notre Dame Academy) will help spearhead the Seahawk attack after placing fifth in the league with 19 points (eight goals, three assists) - including three game-winning goals - a year ago. The junior was also tabbed NEC Player of the week on one occasion last September. Defensively, sophomore keeper Katie Marcy (Bellmore, NY/John F. Kennedy) was second in the league in saves (116) and saves per game (5.52). She earned NEC Rookie of the Week honors last October after allowing just one goal in a pair of overtime ties against Quinnipiac and CCSU. Head coach Mike Minielli welcomes 14 newcomers to Grymes Hill this season.
With a nice mix of experience and youth, Mount St. Mary's (5-11-3, 2-7-1 NEC) will look to climb the NEC ladder in 2011 as coach Tom Gosselin returns senior forward Sadie Winship (York, PA/Eastern York) and junior midfielder Kelly Baker (Cinnaminson, NJ/Cinnaminson) to the mix. The offensively minded duo recorded seven and nine points, respectively, in 2010. Defensively the Mountaineers will rely on junior Andrea Bujacich (Massapequa, NY/Massapequa) to bring experience on the other end of the field.
Fairleigh Dickinson (2-16, 2-8 NEC) and coach Renee Montana return three well seasoned seniors to the pitch this season. On the offensive side, senior forward Rashidah Sherman (Pelham Manor, NY/Pelham Memorial) recovered from an early-season injury to lead the team with four goals and nine points in 2010. She also earned an NEC Player of the Week honor following a seven-point weekend in October. Senior Amy Flanagan (Freehold, NJ/Freehold) was a staple on defense as she started in all 18 games during her junior year.
The 2011 NEC Women's Soccer Tournament will take place at the home of the high seed on November 4 & 6. The top four teams in the regular season standings will advance to the postseason event. The winner of the NEC Tournament will receive the league's automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Soccer Championship.