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Somerset, NJ – After a strong runner-up finish at the 2011 Northeast Conference (NEC) Women’s Golf Championship, Sacred Heart earns the moniker of pre-season favorite from the league’s coaches in the 2012 preseason poll. The Pioneers received eight first-place votes, while four-time defending champion Fairleigh Dickinson, who earned three top nods, finished second. Saint Francis (PA) who also garnered a first-place vote was slotted in third. LIU Brooklyn landed in fourth, followed by Robert Morris in fifth. Wagner was pegged seventh while Central Connecticut and Mount St. Mary’s finished in a tie for eighth. St. Francis (NY) and Quinnipiac rounded out the field in tenth and eleventh, respectively.
Sacred Heart and head coach Matthew McGreevy are primed to take home top honors in 2012 with a deep roster that features a pair of All-Conference honorees. Gabriella Riber (Stockholm, Sweden/Danderyds Gymnasium) landed a spot on the first team as a sophomore after she finished in a tie for fourth (78-81-83 = 232) at the Conference championship. The native of Sweden also collected two NEC Golfer of the Week nods during the regular season, while averaging 78.64. Her best finish in 2011 was her victory at the Rutgers Invitational (79-76 = 155 where she topped the field of over 100. Riber is flanked by senior Carly Bergin (Binghamton, NY/Chenango Valley) who earned a place on the All-Conference second team. Before finishing tenth at the 2011 Conference
meet, the New York product produced a trio of top-three finishes and two NEC Golfer of the Week selections. This past fall, Bergin garnered NEC Player of the Month honors in October after winning the individual title at the ECAC Championship with a 36-hole score of 148.
2012 Northeast Conference
Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Sacred Heart (8)
2. Fairleigh Dickinson (3)
3. Saint Francis (PA)
4. LIU Brooklyn
5. Robert Morris
8. Central Connecticut
Mount St. Mary's
10. St. Francis (NY)
First place votes in parentheses
The Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson may have lost two-time NEC Player of the Year Michele Holzwarth to graduation, but the four-time NEC Champion Knights have plenty of firepower remaining. The sophomore duo of Esther Park (Dumont, NJ/Northern Valley) and Mariana Juaristi (Irapuato, Guanajuato/Prepa Tec) return for head coach Rob Warren with a laundry list of accomplishments that includes top-10 NEC finishes. Park, who earned first-team All-Conference honors last spring, finished sixth at the conference championship and also earned NEC Golfer of the Week honors for her sixth place finish at the Siena Invitational. Juaristi, a second-team all-league honoree, consistently posted finishes in the top-10 last spring, including a seventh place finish at Brown, where she posted season-low rounds of 77 and 71. She ended the year with an eighth place finish at the NEC Championship.
Saint Francis (PA) andhead coach Chris Cascino will sport a young roster this spring, but one which features 2011 NEC Rookie of the Year Ann Colligan (Kittanning, PA/Kittanning). The sophomore burst onto the scene at the NEC Championship meet where she finished second (75-75-77=227). While her season-low round of 72 came against Bucknell early in the season, Colligan continued to play well throughout, carding good marks at the Red Flashs’ home invitational where she finished in third place. The Pennsylvania native hopes to pick up right where she left off during the fall season, where she earned NEC Golfer of the Month honors in September for her first place finish at the Cleveland State Invitational and a third-place finish at the Bucknell Invitational where she carded a career-low 71 at the 54-hole event.
Under first-year coach Natalie Desjardins, the Blackbirds of LIU Brooklyn sport a roster with an even mix of experience and youth. With three freshman and three seniors, the Blackbirds will rely heavily on 2011 NEC Individual Champion Anna Palsson (Stockholm, Sweden/Ostra Real) to lead the way. Before posting a score of 225 at the conference title meet, the first team all-conference honoree took top honors at the MU Hawk Invitational and then booked a fantastic comeback at the Bucknell Invitational, jumping from 17th to second, as she recorded a tournament-low 72 on day two of the event.
Under the tutelage of veteran head coach Jerry Stone, Robert Morris will look to build off last year’s third-place finish at the Conference Championship. After finishing in a team-high third at the NEC Tournament, Elizabeth Wenger (Toledo, OH/Whitmer), will have her sights set on the 2012 individual title. The senior’s score (79-71-89 = 230)marked the highest championship finish of her career, while her day two score represented the only sub-par tally of the event. The 2010 NEC Rookie of the Year, Jenna Rinker (Slippery Rock, PA/Slippery Rock) will also be a contributor after she booked an 11th-place finish at the same meet.
With 2011 NEC Coach of the Year Chris Fourman at the helm, Wagner will look to capitalize on the experience of a fifth-place finish at last year’s championship, the Seahawk’s highest since 2006. Junior Miko Page (Brooklyn, NY/Edward R Murrow) will lead the charge for the Seahawks after she posted a team best ninth-place finish at last year’s NEC Championship, recording a final score of 240. While co-captain Ellen Huffman (Lima, OH/Lima Catholic Central), who landed in 11th, will add depth to the lineup.
Monmouth will look to crack the top five in 2012 under the guidance of long-time head coach Sherri McDonald. Paving the way for the Hawks will be the junior duo of Kelsi Kavanagh (Point Pleasant, NJ/Point Pleasant Boro) and Rachel Werner (Smithtown, NY/Smithtown West). Kavanaugh sports the team’s lowest average among returners, while Werner saved her best performance for last in 2011, finishing 11th overall at the NEC Championship.
First-year coach Kevin Farrell will look to lead Mount St. Mary’s to new heights in 2012 with the help of junior Sarah Roe (Floral Park, NJ/Floral Park Memorial), who landed in 19th place at the 2011 NEC Championship.
Central Connecticut will also be under a new regime this spring as first-year coach Carly Ludwig takes the reins in New Britain. With no seniors on the roster, the junior duo of Anna Ausanio (Hopewell Junction, NY/John Jay) and Katie Reid (Orangeville, Ontario/Orangeville) will provide experience for the Blue Devils. Ausanio was the top finisher for CCSU at last year’s NEC Tournament, as she took home a share of sixth (81-78-75 =234), while Reid booked solid scores this past fall.
Sporting a young roster, St. Francis (NY) and coach Julio Campuzano will rely on seniors Carla Biggs (Montgomery, NY/Valley Central High School) and Adrianna Rumayor (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Kearney High School) for experience and leadership.
With a veteran roster Quinnipiac and second-year head coach John O’Connor,will look to make strides in 2012. Jennifer Forlenza (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Hills) and Amanda Nagel (Greenwood, MN/Sacred Heart University) will lead the squad.
The 2011 NEC Women's Golf Tournament will be held at the LPGA International Club in Daytona Beach, FL from April 27-29. Team scores will be compiled by adding the team's four lowest scores from each day. The top-10 finishers will be designated All-Tournament performers.