HAMDEN, Conn. – The Quinnipiac University field hockey team was tabbed to finish third in the 2011 Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, as announced by the league office today. The Bobcats garnered two first-place votes after a 2010 campaign that saw the squad post eight wins, including a 4-3 mark in NEC play and a trip to the conference tournament for the third straight season.
2010 NEC Champion Rider was picked to repeat, earning four first-place votes, while Monmouth (two first-place votes) was tabbed to finish second. Quinnipiac grabbed the third spot while Bryant, Saint Francis (Pa.) and Sacred Heart fell in the four-through-six slots. Robert Morris and Siena filled out the remaining field.
NEC 2011 Preseason Coaches Poll (First-Place Votes)
1. Rider (4)
2. Monmouth (2)
3. Quinnipiac (2)
5. Saint Francis (Pa.)
6. Sacred Heart
7. Robert Morris
All-NEC stand-outs Megan McCreedy (White River, South Africa), Kim Cunniff (Walpole, Mass.) as well as Ashley Gradwell (Fogelsville, Pa.) will serve as the team's captains for this season. McCreedy will look to bounce back after an injury sidelined the two-time all-NEC pick in 2010. Cunniff tied for the team lead in goals (7) and points (17) while Gradwell stepped-up into a leadership role out of the backfield for the Bobcats as a junior.
In addition to the team's tri-captains, Quinnipiac will also return co-leading scorer and All-NEC picks Kaitlyn Notarianni (Clarks Summit, Pa.) and Lauren Zimniski (Dallas, Pa.). Notarianni tallied seven goals and three assists for 17 points as a junior and is also the Bobcats' leading active scorer with 13 goals for her career. Zimniski served as the inserter on the Bobcats' penalty corner unit, setting up four of Quinnipiac's five goals to come out of special teams. Zimniski was second on the team to assist leader Tina Watkins, with four assists, which were also a career high.
Quinnipiac opens the 2011 season on the road on August 23 when they head down I-95 to Fairfield for a non-conference tilt at 2 p.m. The Bobcats then host Holy Cross on Friday, Aug. 26 at 12 p.m. and Lehigh on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 2 p.m. Quinnipiac will then travel for three of its first four games of September, playing at Boston College on Sept. 2, Colgate on Sept. 9 and Penn State on Sept. 11. They will also host Yale on Sept. 4. September will also feature home tilts against Harvard on Sept. 18, a road game at Columbia on Sept. 21 and a home game against Maine on Sept. 25.
After trips to Lafayette on Oct. 2 and Brown on Oct. 4, the Bobcats host Robert Morris Oct. 7 for its first Northeast Conference game of the year. They will also host Saint Francis (Pa.) on Oct. 9 before three-straight road games at Monmouth (Oct.14), Rider (Oct. 16) and Siena (Oct. 21). The Bobcats' final two regular-season games will played at home on Oct. 23 against Bryant and Oct. 28 against Sacred Heart.