GORHAM, Maine -- The Little East Conference recently released its 2011 Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll, and the University of Southern Maine was predicted to finish fifth among the eight teams in the regular season. The conference office announced the poll following a vote by the circuit's head coaches.
Eastern Connecticut State University, the defending regular season champion, topped the poll garnering six first place votes and 62 total points. Western Connecticut State University, last season's tournament champion, edged Keene State College for second place, 54-50. Western Connecticut picked up the final two first place votes and 54 points while Keene State finished third with 50 points. The University of Massachusetts Boston rounds out the top half of the table in fourth with 40 points.
Southern Maine slipped by Plymouth State University for the fifth spot, 26-23. Rhode Island College and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth round out the poll.
"The team's goal this season is to host a first-round game in the LEC tournament. The fifth place prediction will motivate the players to put the effort in to exceed the coaches projection, and to achieve their goal of hosting a game in the opening round of the playoffs," said head coach Lisa Petruccelli, now in her sixth season at USM.
The Huskies return 10 players, including six starters, from last year's team that finished 5-15-0 overall and 2-5-0 in conference play. Eventual LEC finalist UMass Boston knocked Southern Maine, the fifth-seed in the 2010 championship tournament, out the playoffs by a 1-0 count in an opening round game at UMB.
Southern Maine begins its 2011 season this Thursday (2:30 p.m.) hosting the University of Maine Fort Kent in a non-conference match. USM opens its seven-game LEC slate hosting Western Connecticut on September 17. USM also has LEC home games with UMass Boston on October 1, UMass Dartmouth on October 15, and Rhode Island College on October 29. USM will travel to Keene State on September 24, Plymouth State on October 8 and Eastern Connecticut on October 22.
The top six teams in the standing will advance to the championship tournament starting November 1 with two first round games. The two winners will advance to play the top two seeds in the semifinals on November 3, and the championship game will be played November 5 at the highest seeded team remaining. The winner of the tournament receives the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer tournament.
Little East Conference
2011 Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
Rank Institution (1st Place votes) Total Points
1 Eastern Connecticut State University (6) 62
2 Western Connecticut State University (2) 54
3 Keene State College 50
4 University of Massachusetts Boston 40
5 University of Southern Maine 26
6 Plymouth State University 23
7 Rhode Island College 18
8 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 15