WINTHROP, Mass. – After longtime Great Northeast Athletic Conference powerhouse Lasell College had won every conference championship since 2010, Saint Joseph's College of Maine last fall captured its first-ever title in women's soccer with a 1-0 victory on the road over the Lasers.
Despite losing 2018 GNAC Offensive Player of the Year Haley DaGraca, seventh-year head coach Jenelle Harris and her Monks program still received six of a possible 13 first-place votes for 159 points to lead the way in the 2019 GNAC Preseason Poll, as voted upon by the league's head coaches.
In 2018, Saint Joseph's finished with a 16-4 overall record with a 10-2 mark in GNAC play en route to earning the #2 seed in the GNAC Tournament. The Monks claimed the program's first GNAC Championship with a 1-0 upset victory at top-seeded Lasell College on Sunday, November 25, 2018 4th. The Monks faced #12 Swarthmore College in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Pennsylvania and fell to the Garnet on their home turf, 5-1, on November 10th.
The Monks graduated their three top scorers from last fall, as DaGraca (20-6-46), Colleen Sheehan (5-8-18), and Emily Thornton (7-0-14) can no longer be counted on to fill the net for the Royal Blue. Juniors McKenzie Murphy (West Baldwin, Maine), Kayla Gooch (Dracut, Mass.) and Brenna Smith (Maynard, Mass.) combined for 11 goals in 2018 and will be asked to increase their offensive output this fall. Senior Hannah Butler (Melrose, Mass.) and sophomore Kayley Mattos (Mahopac, N.Y.) also figure to play more prominent roles in 2019.
Sophomore goalkeeper Adia Grogan (Kennebunk, Maine), a Second Team All-Conference selection as a freshman, sees a solid group of defenders and midfielders return, with seniors Jade Jordan (Baldwin, Maine), Peggy Balboni (Millis, Mass.), and Hailey Tarr (Eliot, Maine) and juniors Kendall Dolan (Kennebunk, Maine), Madeline Wood (Madison, Maine), and Sophie Silva (Portland, Maine) coming back with another year of collegiate soccer experience under their belt.
Lasell finished second in the poll with three first-place votes and 150 points, followed closely by Johnson & Wales University (RI) with three first-place nods and 149 points. Emmanuel College slotted fourth with the remaining first-place tally and 135 points.
In last year's GNAC Tournament, Lasell needed overtime to defeat Emmanuel in the semifinals, while JWU fell to SJC, 4-2.
Rounding out the top-five was Regis College with 113 points, followed by Simmons University with 98 points, Colby-Sawyer College with 94 points, the University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) with 69 points, Norwich University with 65 points, and Suffolk University with 61 points.
Making up the remainder of the poll were Albertus Magnus College, Rivier University, and Anna Maria College.
St. Joe's will open up the 2019 campaign on Friday, August 30 at UNE before hosting Husson on Sunday, September 1. The Monks will have to wait until their final two conference contests to face JWU and Lasell, hosting the Wildcats on Saturday, October 26 before traveling to the Lasers on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
1. Saint Joseph's of Maine (6) - 159
2. Lasell (3) - 150
3. Johnson & Wales (3) - 149
4. Emmanuel (1) - 135
5. Regis - 113
6. Simmons - 98
7. Colby-Sawyer - 94
8. Saint Joseph (CT) - 69
9. Norwich - 65
10. Suffolk - 61
11. Albertus Magnus - 45
12. Rivier - 32
13. Anna Maria - 13