Women's Soccer Picked Fourth In NEC Preseason Coaches Poll

HAMDEN, Conn. - The Quinnipiac University women's soccer team has been picked to finish fourth out of 11 teams in the 2010 Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. The Bobcats finished the 2009 season with a record of 8-7-2 overall, including a 7-3-1 mark in NEC play. Last season's postseason appearance was the Bobcats first since 2004. Head Coach Dave Clarke and his team look to build on this momentum and are excited about the approaching season.

"A new season is something to look forward to and there is always a sense of optimism throughout the team and the program. I am not sure how the season will unfold, but I am looking forward to finding out," said Clarke. "Only time will tell if the team can go a level or two further than last year's team, but the players have the potential to do so."

(Women's Soccer Head Coach Dave Clarke previews the 2010 season, including commentary on
the Bobcats' returning and incoming players.)

Monmouth was picked as the favorite to win the NEC by the league's coaches, garnering seven first-place votes. Central Connecticut State received four first-place votes to slide into the second spot, followed by Long Island, Quinnipiac and Saint Francis (Pa.) to round-out the top five. Sacred Heart, Robert Morris, Bryant, Mount St. Mary's, Fairleigh Dickinson and Wagner rounded out the field of 11.

The Bobcats return a pair of 2009 NEC First-Team selections in junior Furtuna Velaj (Stamford, Conn.) and sophomore standout Jillian Strassner (Avon, CT), who also received NEC Rookie of the Year honors. As a freshman and sophomore, Velaj solidified herself as one of the top goal-scorers in the NEC after leading the conference in scoring for the second straight season. The junior forward tallied 11 goals and eight assists, earning All-New England honors and being named the team MVP. Strassner ranked second in all offensive categories behind Velaj with four goals and three assists for 11 points.

Also, returning this fall is junior midfielder Kristina Del Mistro (East Williston, N.Y.), who was named to the 2009 Northeast Conference All-Tournament Team. Junior goalkeeper Jill Kelley (Simsbury, Conn.) and seniors Kyla Miles (Newtown, Conn.) and Jen Hartman (Cranston, R.I.), three players who missed the 2009 season due to injuries, will also be returning and look to make a strong impact.

Joining the Bobcats are freshmen Taylor Healey (Milford, Conn.), Rebecca Kiting (Canberra, Australia) and Aine McKeever (Derry City, Ireland).

Quinnipiac will open the regular season against Army at Clinton Field in West Point, N.Y. on Friday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. The Bobcats then head to Bethlehem, Pa., to take on Lehigh on Sunday, Sept. 5 at Ullrich Sports Complex at 1 p.m. Quinnipiac hosts Siena on Friday, Sept. 10 for its home opener at 4 p.m. After traveling to Worcester, Mass. on Sunday, Sept. 12, the Bobcats will play three straight home games to close out September against Dartmouth on Friday, Sept. 17 at 3 p.m., Rhode Island on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 12 p.m. and against NEC in-state foe Central Connecticut on Sunday, Sept. 26 at 12 p.m.

October presents the Bobcats with a tough schedule with six of their first eight games on the road for the month. Quinnipiac travels to Staten Island, N.Y., on Friday, Oct. 1 to take on Wagner before heading to Brooklyn, N.Y., to face Long Island on Saturday, Oct. 3. The Bobcats return home on Friday, Oct. 8 to host Monmouth at 3:30 p.m. and Mount St. Mary's on Sunday, Oct. 10 at 12 p.m. They then head back out onto the road for a three-game swing at Saint Francis (Pa.) in Loretta, Pa., on Friday, Oct. 15 and Robert Morris in Moon Township, Pa., on Saturday, Oct. 17. The Bobcats' final two road games of the season will be in Smithfield, R.I., against Bryant on Friday, Oct. 22 and Cambridge, Mass. against Harvard on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 3 p.m.

Quinnipiac's final two home contests come against Sacred Heart on Friday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. and Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 12 p.m.