NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass.—For the first time in program history, UMass Boston women's soccer was picked as the preseason favorite in the Little East Conference Preseason Poll, the league announced Wednesday morning.
The defending regular season and tournament champions earned 62 points and took home six of the eight possible first-place votes. Ninth-year head coach Amy Zombeck's team returns all five of their All-Conference players and 97 percent of the scoring from a squad that earned their first ever Little East Conference Regular Season and Tournament Titles.
UMass Boston had never been picked higher than fourth in the preseason poll and this year's poll marks the first time in program-history the Beacons received a first-place vote.
Eastern Connecticut State University finished second in the poll with the other two first-place votes and 53 total points. Little East Conference Tournament Runner-Up Western Connecticut State University was tabbed in third with 45 points, just ahead of Keene State College's 42 points.
Rounding out the final four teams in the poll, UMass Dartmouth was picked fifth (32), followed by the University of Southern Maine (22), Plymouth State University (16) and Rhode Island College (16).
UMass Boston returns the top two scorers in the conference in forwards Krista Ledin (Bridgewater, Mass.) and Tayla Andrews (Plymouth, Mass.). The duo became the second and third players in program history to reach the 100-point mark. Ledin set the conference single-season record with 26 goals and 64 points, while Andrews finished with new career-highs in goals (21), assists (11) and points (53).
In the midfield, UMass Boston returns all-conference stars Sam Cristoforo (Rockland, Mass.) and Amanda Pugliese (Pembroke, Mass.). The pair of dominant midfielders will lead a young group looking to help the Beacons build upon their 18-3 record and first NCAA Tournament bid. Cristoforo enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, finishing with a career-high 26 points and five game-winning goals; while Pugliese had a strong season of her own, recording five goals, seven assists and 17 points in her first season in Beacons Blue.
The Beacons backline is primed for another strong season in 2013, as the squad returns three-time Little East Conference all-star Alli Modzelewski (Newtown, Conn.), along with returning starter Brittany Castillo (Yarmouth, Mass.). UMass Boston's backline held opponents to just 1.22 goals per game over the course of the season and just six goals in seven conference contests.
Last but not least, UMass Boston returns their top three goaltenders from 2012, including Kristen Spain (Quincy, Mass.) and Dani Perkins (Murrieta, Calif.). Spain (17) and Perkins (15) sit first and second on the all-time win list in program history and each has a year of being the UMB starting goaltender under their belt.
The Beacons open their season Friday August 30th when they host the University of New England at 3 p.m.
|2013 Little East Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll|
|Rank||Institution||First Place||Total Points|
|University of Massachusetts Boston||6||62|
|2||Eastern Connecticut State University||2||53|
|3||Western Connecticut State University||45|
|4||Keene State College||42|
|5||University of Massachusetts Dartmouth||32|
|6||University of Southern Maine
|7||Plymouth State University||16|
|Rhode Island College||16|