Western Connecticut picked to finish in third place in Little East Conference

official release from Jack Holleran - LEC Director of Communications

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA (Feb. 17) - The Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors have been projected to win the 2012 Little East Conference women’s lacrosse regular-season championship, as voted by the league’s seven coaches. Eastern Connecticut penned six of the seven first place votes into its ledger and totaled 48 points to sit atop the annual preseason survey for the fourth time in program history.

According to the coaches’ predictions, Little East women’s lacrosse fans are in store for a competitive race for home field advantage in the conference tournament. Keene State College secured the final first place vote to edge Western Connecticut State University for second place by just a single point. Plymouth State University and the University of Southern Maine are tied for fourth in the preseason rankings, separated from the Colonials by just four points.   

The Warriors are making their first appearance atop the seven-team field since being predicted to capture the 2009 title. Under the direction of Christine Hutchison, Eastern Connecticut hoisted the program’s fifth consecutive conference regular-season trophy in 2011 after posting a perfect 6-0 mark in Little East action. The Warriors currently sport an 11-game conference winning streak, which originated on April 10, 2010. Last season, Eastern Connecticut scored the final two markers of the conference tournament semifinal match to earn a come-from-behind victory against Western Connecticut to book the program’s ninth appearance in the championship game.

Hutchison will welcome a total of 14 student-athletes, including 10 starters, back into the fold from the 2011 squad. The Warriors will feature four 2011 All-Little East honorees on its 2012 roster, including their top-two scorers. Senior attacker Ashley Prizio (Brookfield, Conn.) and junior midfielder Daniela Marchitto (Orange, Conn.) are expected to provide the firepower for Eastern’s explosive attack. Prizio, the 2011 Little East Offensive Player of the Year, paced the conference circuit in goals per game (3.53), points per game (4.29), and game-winning goals (5). The Warriors will open their 2012 schedule at 1 p.m. on March 3, when Eastern Connecticut hosts Colby-Sawyer College.
  
Under the watchful eye of Katie Arsenault, Keene State raised the Little East women’s lacrosse tournament trophy for the second time in the past three years in 2012. Last spring, the Owls completed the campaign with an overall record of 13-6, marking the fourth straight season Keene State has reached double digits in victories. The Owls capped their season-high nine-game winning streak with a victory at the Warriors to earn the conference’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament. Keene State, making their second appearance in the national tournament, fell at perennial power Cortland State.

Arsenault will return 15 student-athletes, including three starters, back to campus from the 2011 team. Senior midfielder Caitlyn Corace (Mahopac, N.Y.) and junior midfielder Lauren Brown (Agawam, Mass) each eclipsed the 40-point barrier to return as the team’s top-two scorers. Brown, a 2011 All-Little East, second-team pick, netted multiple goals in 14 of her 19 appearances, including matching her season-high of five markers against Eastern Connecticut in the championship round. Keene State will begin its 2012 slate on March 8 at 4 p.m., when the Owls visit St. Michael’s College.    

The Little East sponsors a six-game conference schedule with the top six squads in the final standings advancing to the 2012 Little East Women’s Lacrosse Championship. The top-two seeds receive a first-round bye and earn the right to host a semifinal round contest on Thursday, May 3. Two days later, the two semifinal winners advance to the championship round at the highest remaining seed. The Little East champion earns the conference’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Rounding out the preseason poll in projected order of finish in the regular season standings are the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (13) and Rhode Island College (8).

Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III.  Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes.  Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.  


2012 Little East Women's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll

Rank

Nomination

First Place

Total

1

Eastern Connecticut State University

6

48

2

Keene State College

1

35

3

Western Connecticut State University

34

4

Plymouth State University

30

University of Southern Maine

30

6

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

13

7

Rhode Island College

8