HAMDEN, Conn. - The Quinnipiac University women's soccer team was picked to finish in fifth place of eleven teams in the 2009 Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. The Bobcats closed the 2008 season with a 7-7-2 overall record and a 3-4-2 conference record, finishing sixth in the NEC.
The 2008 Conference Champion, Central Connecticut, was picked to finish first, earning eight first-place votes in the poll. Conference runner-up, Long Island, received two first-place votes and fell into second place. Monmouth received the final first-place vote and is forecasted to finish in third. St. Francis (PA) landed the spot just above Quinnipiac in fourth, while Fairleigh Dickinson and Robert Morris are just below the Bobcats in sixth and seventh place. Sacred Heart and newcomer Bryant tied in eighth place, while Wagner and Mount St. Mary's rounded out the poll in tenth and eleventh place, respectively.
The Bobcats are returning several players including two all-conference selectees in sophomore Furtuna Velaj (Stamford, Conn.) and junior Meagan McLoughlin (Rocky Hill, Conn.). Velaj was named to the All-NEC First Team in her rookie season after she led the NEC in goals (15), points (31), and game-winning goals (7). She was also named to the NSCAA Division I All-Northeast Regional Second Team and the NEWISA All-New England Second Team. McLoughlin was named to the All-NEC Second team as she split time as a defender/forward last year, ranking second on the team in points (10) and goals (4).
Quinnipiac is also returning their assist leader from last season in senior Susan Donovan (Cork, Ireland). Donovan passed out four assists last season. The Bobcats are also returning sophomore goalkeeper Jillian Kelley (Simsbury, Conn.). Kelley started 15 of 16 games in her freshman season, posting a 7-6-2 record with 56 saves and 4 shutouts.
"I think it's a fair reflection from the opposing coaches," said Head Coach Dave Clarke. "We lost some seniors and we have a young team, but I think we have great talent and this ranking will give us a good level of motivation for the upcoming season."
The Bobcats kick off their season on the road when they take on Providence College on Sunday, Sep. 6 at 1 p.m. The team's home opener falls on the following Sunday, Sep. 13, when it hosts Lehigh at 2 p.m. at the Quinnipiac Soccer Field.