Mansfield, Mass. – In its first year as an associate member of the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC), Thomas College has been tabbed field hockey preseason favorites with 46 points and four first-place votes. The Terriers were regular season champions in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) a season ago, and the 2018 NAC Coach of the Year Andrea Thebarge will be back on the sidelines for Thomas. Seven starters will return, including the 2018 NAC Player of the Year, Kelci Faulkingham (Belfast, Maine) and fellow first team All-NAC performer Britney Gregoire (Kennebunk, Maine). Faulkingam totaled 17 points from the midfielder position, while Gregoire was second in the NAC in goals with 15 a season ago.
Husson University landed the second spot with 38 points and three first place votes, as they come off a season in which they won the NECC/NAC Alliance Championship. In their first year as associate members of the NECC, Husson will be led by third-year head coach, Sabrina Smith. The Eagles return 2018 first team All-NAC performer, Karen Stemm (Belfast, Maine), who was a leader on Husson's defense.
The 2018 NECC regular season champions New England College collected 35 points, and the remaining first place vote, to take the third spot. The Pilgrims will be led by third-year head coach Carly Sweeney, and return four starters from a season ago. Among the returners is first team All-NECC performer Brittany Tierney (Ottowa, Ontario), who led the league in goals (20) and points (46).
Newcomer Manhattanville College claimed the fourth spot with 29 points, and are led by veteran head coach Kevin Kelly. First team All-MAC Freedom performer Robin Boot (Bedum, Netherlands) will be back on the field for the Valiants, as she comes off a season in which she totaled 17 points.
Becker College and UMaine Farmington tallied 25 points apiece to land in a tie for fifth place. The Hawks return nine starters from 2018, including the NECC Player of the Year, defender Samantha Carter (Boothbay Harbor, Maine), and the NECC Goalkeeper of the Year, Victoria Pilpel (Germantown, Md.). Carter assisted Becker in the backfield, as the team had the lowest goals-against average in the conference (2.45), and allowed the fewest overall goals (45). Pilpel led the league in goals-against average at 2.24.
UMaine Farmington will compete in their first year as associate members of the NECC, as head coach Cyndi Pratt returns for her sixteenth season at the helm for the Beavers.
Elms College (19) and Dean College (7) will also battle for the top spot in the expanded 2019 field of competitors.
2019 NECC Field Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Thomas College- 46 (4)
2. Husson University- 38 (3)
3. New England College- 35 (1)
4. Manhattanville College- 29
T5. Becker College- 25
T5. UMaine Farmington- 25
7. Elms College- 19
8. Dean College- 7