WINTHROP, Mass. – Following a vote amongst the league's head coaches, Lasell College has garnered eight of a possible 13 first-place votes in the 2018 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, as announced on Monday morning by the GNAC office.
Saint Joseph's College, 13-6-1 overall and 7-3-1 in GNAC play under Head Coach Jenelle Harris last fall, is forecasted to finish third in the conference standings this season. The Monks earned the #4 seed in the conference tournament and advanced to the semifinal round for the second-consecutive season with a 4-0 first-round triumph over #5 University of Saint Joseph (Conn.). The 2017 season came to a close with a setback at the hands of top-seeded Lasell on October 31st.
Although the Monks lost several key contributors to graduation last spring, the team returns four of the top five scorers from a year ago, including three-time First Team All-GNAC honoree Haley DaGraca (Saco, Maine), and six starters overall from the 2017 side. This year's squad will also be augmented by a talented freshman class, which features five midfielders, three forwards, one defender, and a goalkeeper.
The 2018 season kicks off with a non-conference home game versus University of New England at 7:00 PM on Friday, August 31st.
Under the guidance of 12th-year head coach Vito LaFrancesca, the Lasers finished ahead of second-place Johnson & Wales University in the coaches' rankings, garnering 164 points overall in the poll. The Wildcats collected the other five first-place votes and 161 points overall.
Last year, Lasell topped JWU, 2-0, both in its regular-season contest and in the eventual GNAC Championship matchup. The Lasers moved forward into the NCAA Tournament where they fell to No. 2 William Smith, which went on to advance to the NCAA Third Round.
For the complete poll results, please see below.
LaFrancesca has a career 153-56-15 record (.717) as Lasell eyes its ninth consecutive GNAC crown and NCAA berth. Lasell and JWU will square off head-to-head in GNAC regular-season play on Saturday, September 15 in Newton, Mass. The Lasers will first open their season with four non-league contests: vs. Oswego, at Brandeis, vs. Keene State, at Amherst.
JWU will host UMass Boston and Wheaton in Providence, R.I. to open up its 2018 campaign before traveling to Anna Maria College for its GNAC opener on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The Wildcats will then be at Brandeis before welcoming Connecticut College.
Saint Joseph's College of Maine took third place in the preseason ledger with 131 points after the Monks lost to Lasell in last year's GNAC Tournament semifinals. Just off the pace in the fourth spot was Emmanuel College with 128 points, as the Saints were upset at home in the GNAC Quarterfinals last fall.
Newest GNAC core member Colby-Sawyer College rounded out the top-five with 118 points. Last season's Chargers' squad earned the top seed in the 2017 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Tournament but were upset in the semifinals by Husson. After non-conference matchups with Plattsburgh State and Keene State, Colby-Sawyer will play host to its first-ever GNAC contest on Saturday, Sept. 8 against Simmons College, which finished sixth in the voting with 102 points following a GNAC Semifinals appearance last year.
Making up the rest of the poll was University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) with 95 points, Albertus Magnus College with 84 points, Suffolk University with 60 points, Regis (Mass.) with 56 points. Norwich University with 39 points, Rivier University with 32 points, and Anna Maria with 13 points.
Of those teams, USJ earned the No. 5 seed in last fall's GNAC Tournament, while No. 7 seeded Albertus Magnus forced JWU to penalty kicks in the quarterfinals, nearly bouncing the Wildcats from the league playoffs at home. Suffolk served as last year's No. 8 seed but was upended by Lasell.
The 2018 GNAC Tournament dates are scheduled for Saturday, October 27 (quarterfinals), Wednesday, October 31 (semifinals) and Saturday, November 3 (championship) at high seeds throughout with no reseeding. Be sure to catch all of the tournament action live on thegnac.tv or watch on one of our four custom digital streaming apps. Broadcasts are produced by host institutions.
Fans can also purchase GNAC co-branded and championship apparel through the conference office's recently announced partnership with SquadLocker. For more information, please click HERE.
2018 GNAC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
1. Lasell (8) - 164
2. Johnson & Wales (5) - 161
3. Saint Joseph's (Maine) - 131
4. Emmanuel - 128
5. Colby-Sawyer - 118
6. Simmons - 102
7. Saint Joseph (Conn.) - 95
8. Albertus Magnus - 84
9. Suffolk - 60
10. Regis (Mass.) - 56
11. Norwich - 39
12. Rivier - 32
13. Anna Maria - 13