Westfield, Mass.—The 2016 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champions Worcester State have been selected by the eight coaches from around the conference to repeat as champions during the 2017 season.
Worcester State took the top spot with three first place votes for 45 points. The Lancers finished last season with a 5-0-2 record in league action. Ashleigh Howland returns after leading the team in goals with six and three assists for 15 points. Her goal late in the tournament title game last season helped Worcester State advance to the NCAA DIII Tournament and earned her Tournament MVP honors.
Up next in second with four first place votes for 43 points is Bridgewater State. The Bears were 4-1-2 during MASCAC play. Back in goal is 2016 MASCAC Player of the Year and All-Conference honoree Lauren DeSousa. During the 2016 season, she led the conference in save percentage (.885), goals against average (0.60) goals against (12) and total shutouts (10). She also tallied seven wins and 92 saves on the year.
Taking home the final first place vote in third place is Westfield State with 41 points. The Owls were 5-1-1 at the end of the conference regular season. Reigning MASCAC Rookie of the Year and First Team All-Conference honoree Bella Eduardo returns to the pitch after netting six goals, five assists for 17 points last season, which were all in the top four of the conference.
Tied in the fourth spot are Framingham State and Salem State with 27 points. The Rams had four wins during the conference clip last season. Kayla Alstrom led the squad last season with four goals and four assists for 12 points with two game-winners. The Vikings had three wins last season in MASCAC play. Allison Celia tallied five goals for 10 points to earn a spot on the All-Conference second team in 2016.
Fitchburg State lands in the sixth spot with 18 points. The Falcons netted three league wins last season. In her first season, Micalea Goldenburg tied for the most goals and assists on the team with three and one, respectively while also netting a game-winner.
Finishing out the 2017 women's soccer poll in seventh and eighth are MCLA and Massachusetts Maritime with 16 and seven points, respectively. The Trailblazers grabbed a win in MASCAC action. First Team All-Conference honoree Megan Richardson returns between the pipes after finishing second in saves (122) and save percentage (.865), third in goals against average (1.19) and goals against (19) in 2016. For the Buccaneers, Stephanie Hunt is back after leading the MASCAC in goals and points with 11 and 24, respectively plus two game-winning goals.
The MASCAC women's soccer teams will start the 2017 campaign Labor Day weekend with non-conference play.
The Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, the nation's oldest Division III men's and women's playing conference, has a rich and storied tradition of competitive success while celebrating excellence in the classroom. MASCAC member schools include Bridgewater State University, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, MCLA, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Salem State University, Westfield State University and Worcester State University. Two other institutions, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Plymouth State University, are affiliate members of the conference in the sports of football and men's ice hockey, while Western Connecticut State University joined the conference as an affiliate member in football beginning in 2013.
2017 MASCAC Women's Soccer Pre-Season Coaches Poll (First Place Votes In Parentheses)
1. Worcester State (3) 45 points
2. Bridgewater State (4) 43 points
3. Westfield State (1) 41 points
4. Framingham State 27 points/Salem State 27 points
6. Fitchburg State 18 points
7. MCLA 16 points
8. Massachusetts Maritime 7 points