WINTHROP, Mass. – Reigning league champion Johnson & Wales University (RI) has received seven of a possible 11 first-place votes to take the top spot in the 2018 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll with 111 points, it was announced on Tuesday morning. The poll was voted upon by the GNAC's head coaches.
It has been a steady climb for the JWU program since a 5-5 finish in GNAC play back in 2014. In 2015, the Wildcats improved to 7-2 in league competition before an 8-1 mark in 2016. Last spring, the Wildcats went a perfect 9-0 in the conference standings, outscoring league foes, 171-55, before defeating Simmons College in last year's GNAC Championship contest, 19-5. It was a banner season with a school-record 16-5 overall record and JWU's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament, where it fell to Babson, 17-8.
The poll was jammed at the top, as Lasell College finished second with two first-place votes and 108 points overall, while Saint Joseph's College of Maine was third with the other two first-place nods and 105 points. Both programs were upset by sixth-seeded Simmons in last year's GNAC Tournament, as the Sharks bested third-seeded Lasell, 15-7, in the conference quarterfinals before taking down second-seeded Saint Joseph's, 11-10, in the semis.
Saint Joseph's College placed third in the poll - with two first-place votes - 105 points after going 13-4 overall with an 8-1 record in conference play under Rupert Lewis, who is about to kick off his sixth season at the helm for the Monks.
The Monks return 10 starters from last season including 2017 GNAC Offensive Player of the Year Elyse Caiazzo (Scarborough, Maine/Cheverus), who tallied 67 goals and 13 assists for 80 total points with 56 ground balls, 55 draw controls, and 15 caused turnovers during her junior season, and fellow All-GNAC honorees Brianne Maloney (South Portland, Maine) and Kaylin Mansir (West Gardiner, Maine).
The Monks open the 2018 campaign on Saturday, March 3rd with a game at the SJC Athletics Complex against Husson University starting at 1:00 PM.
For the complete poll results, as voted upon by the league's 11 head coaches, please see below.
Mount Ida College had 85 points and Emmanuel College had 74 points to round out the top-five in the poll, while the aforementioned Simmons was slotted sixth with 62 points. For the complete results, please see below.
Newest GNAC full member Regis (Mass.) placed seventh in the preseason poll with 56 points. The Pride captured the 2017 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship, earning the league's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to Salisbury, 19-2. Regis also captured NECC titles and NCAA berths in 2015 and 2016, and won the NECC Tournament every year dating back to 2013.
Poll-topper JWU will open up the 2018 campaign on Saturday, February 24 at UMass Dartmouth.
The 2018 GNAC Tournament will get underway with quarterfinal action on Saturday, April 28 at the four highest seeds. Semifinals are set for Tuesday, May 1, with the championship game slated for Saturday, May 5. Be sure to catch all of the action live on thegnac.tv or watch your favorite GNAC teams on one of our four custom digital streaming apps.
2018 GNAC Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll:
1. Johnson & Wales (7) - 111
2. Lasell (2) - 108
3. Saint Joseph's Maine (2) - 105
4. Mount Ida - 85
5. Emmanuel - 74
6. Simmons - 62
7. Regis (Mass.) - 56
8. Norwich - 51
9. Rivier - 35
10. Albertus Magnus - 26
11. Saint Joseph (CT) - 13
COURTESY OF GNAC SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE
Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.
– #TheGNAC –
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.