WINTHROP, Mass. – Saint Joseph's College of Maine received seven of a possible 10 first-place votes to take the top spot in the 2016 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Lacrosse Preseason Poll, as announced on Tuesday afternoon by the league office.
The Monks garnered 97 points in the poll a year after winning the GNAC title, going 17-2 overall and a spotless 9-0 in conference play before taking care of Rivier University, Emmanuel College and Lasell College in the GNAC Tournament.
Led by Head Coach Rupert Lewis, Saint Joseph's met Bridgewater State in the opening round of the NCAA DIII Tournament and saw the 2015 season come to an end by way of a 16-9 setback at the hands of the Bears. The 2015 squad set program single-season records in points (423), goals (288), assists (135), man-up goals (21), draw controls (249), and goals against average (7.23) and posted the second-highest winning percentage (.895) in the history of SJC Athletics.
The Monks return a strong corps from the 2015 GNAC Championship club, as leading scorers Elyse Caiazzo (Scarborough, Maine/Cheverus), Kat Gadbois (Scarborough, Maine), Mary Leasure (Portland, Maine/McAuley), Elizabeth Elcock (Westwood, Mass.), Jackie Wilson (Tiverton, R.I.), and Kelsey Dumond (Lewiston, Maine) combined to net 239 goals – or 83% of the team's offensive output - last spring.
The team's defensive corps also returns, as senior defenders Meghan Williams (Greenland, N.H./St. Thomas Aquinas) and Emma Lafrance (Wesport, Mass.) are both back, as is senior keeper Michelle Cunha (Enfield, Conn.).
Lasell finished second in the poll, as voted upon by the league's head coaches, receiving 87 points overall and a pair of first-place votes. The Lasers went 8-1 in league action last season before earning their spot against the Monks in the GNAC Championship.
Johnson & Wales University came in at No. 3 in the poll with one first-place tally and 81 points. The Wildcats went 7-2 last spring in the conference, falling only to Saint Joseph's (Maine) and Lasell.
Fenway rivals Emmanuel College and Simmons College rounded out the top-five in the voting, as the Saints received 75 points and the Sharks garnered 59 points.
Making up the remainder of the poll was Mount Ida College with 45 points, Norwich University with 41 points, Rivier University with 35 points, the University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) with 18 points and Albertus Magnus College with 12 points.
JWU will be the first GNAC team to hit the field in 2016, playing four contests between February 20 and March 3. Conference play will begin on Saturday, March 26, with the GNAC Tournament slated to get underway with quarterfinal action on Tuesday, May 3.
Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 12 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 17 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.
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.