Smith returns as the reigning Division II Player of the Year looking to back up a historic 2017 season. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
Skyhawks seek first NE10 regular season title since 2009
EASTON, Mass. (August 13, 2018) – The Stonehill College field hockey program has been anointed as preseason favorites in the Northeast-10 Conference's preseason coaches' poll by the league's 14 head coaches, the NE10 announced today.
Stonehill leads a tightly-bunched trio of teams atop the preseason poll with five first place votes and 156 points, just two points ahead of second-place Saint Anselm College, the defending NE10 regular season champions, who also collected five first place votes. LIU Post is third with 149 points and three first place votes, while Merrimack College is fourth with 128 points and the remaining first place vote. Pace University (123 points) rounds out the top five, followed by Assumption College (110) in sixth, Southern New Hampshire University (94) in seventh and Adelphi University (89) in eighth.
Stonehill head coach Susan Ciufo, entering her fourth season at the helm, returns 18 letterwinners, including seven starters, from a 2017 squad that posted a 13-7 record overall, including 10-2 in NE10 play to finish second in the NE10 regular season standings behind Saint Anselm. The Skyhawks reached the semifinal round of the NE10 Tournament in their way to earning a fifth-straight NCAA Tournament bid (ninth in program history overall).
Senior All-American Kacie Smith (Norwood, Massachusetts/Norwood), the reigning Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II Player of the Year, headlines Stonehill's list of returnees, which also includes junior back Michaela Antonellis (Watertown, Massachusetts/Watertown), also a Longstreth/NFHCA first team All-America pick last season.
Smith, a two-time NFHCA East Region and NE10 Player of the Year, is coming off a historic junior season in which she set a new NCAA Division II record with her 41 goals, leading all three divisions of NCAA field hockey in goals and points, while leading Division II with her school-record 17 assists, finishing with an NE10 record 99 points. Antonellis enjoyed a breakout year for the Skyhawks in 2017, standing out on their penalty corner offensive and defensive units. She finished fourth on the team in scoring with 12 points, netting four goals and dishing out four assists, also contributing a team-high three defensive saves.
Antonellis was also a first team All-American in 2017 and will help lead the defensive unit. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
Senior Sara Freedman (Hopkinton, Massachusetts/Hopkinton) will backbone the Stonehill defense once again this fall. The three-year starter in the Skyhawks goal has started 56 of her 60 career games played, with over 4,000-minutes played, logging a 1.91 career goals against average and 14 shutouts. In addition to Antonellis, sophomore Elaine Bachelder (South Berwick, Maine/Marshwood), an NE10 and Synapse Sports Division II All-Rookie Team selection, will lead the defensive returnees for the Skyhawks.
Key returnees from the top offensive team in Division II last fall in support of Smith will be senior Carly Andersen (Cheshire, Connecticut/Canterbury School), junior Samantha Day (Hampstead, New Hampshire/Pinkerton Academy) and sophomore Taylor Ladue (Westminster, Massachusetts/Oakmont Regional). Andersen, an All-NE10 second team selection last year, finished second on the team with 29 points and 13 goals, dishing out three assists, while Ladue, an NE10 All-Rookie Team pick, totaled five goals and two assists in her first collegiate season. Day chipped in with four goals and an assist for nine points for the Skyhawks in her first season at the College.
Stonehill opens its 2018 season with four home games, hosting West Chester (Pa.) University as part of Stonehill Kickoff Weekend at the College, on Saturday, September 1, at noon. The Skyhawks will host Assumption for its Purple & White Game on Tuesday, September 4, at 7 p.m., before visiting the Greyhounds for their NE10 opener on Saturday, September 22, at 1 p.m.
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