Wilson College Tops 2016-17 NEAC Field Hockey Preseason Poll

Wilson College topped this year's NEAC Field Hockey coaches' preseason poll.
Wilson College topped this year's NEAC Field Hockey coaches' preseason poll.

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The Wilson College Phoenix will head into the 2016-17 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) field hockey season as the preseason favorites, according to the coaches’ preseason poll rankings. 

Wilson topped the poll after sweeping the three allowable first-place votes to tally 15 total points.  The Phoenix will see the return of nine starters and 16 players in total from last year’s squad that claimed the first-ever NEAC regular season championship after going a perfect 3-0 in league play.  Among them will be the duo of senior defender Megan Sterling (Aspers, Pa.) and sophomore midfielder Lauren Moss (Bloomsburg, Pa.), who were both selected to the 2015-16 All-Conference Team.  Sophomore Brooke Clark (Newport, Pa.) will also join Moss in the midfield after both started all 16 Phoenix contests last season along with Sterling, while both shared the conference lead in assists with four a year ago. Junior Kayla Butts (Pasadena, Md.) will be back in goal after also starting 16 games last season, while junior Miranda Long (Catawissa, Pa.) returns to the lead the offense from the forward position after compiling 11 points a season ago. 

Phoenix head coach Shelly Novak enters her 13th season at the helm as the reigning NEAC Coach of the Year.   Novak has built a strong nonconference schedule to prepare for NEAC play, including bouts against Stevenson University, Randolph Macon College and Roanoke College. 

The Wells College Express and the Morrisville State College Mustangs both tallied nine total points, with the Express winning the tiebreaker and grabbing the second spot after tallying the remaining first-place vote.  The Express, the defending NEAC champions after claiming the conference’s first-ever NEAC title, return nine players and seven starters from last season’s team.  That group will include senior and 2015-16 NEAC All-Conference selection Shianne Stokes (Mays Landing, N.J.), who led the Express with 13 points last season while capping the year by being named the NEAC Tournament MVP.  Classmate Sydney Line (Northport, N.Y.) also returns at the goalkeeper position, while junior and 16-game starter Kate Wells (Gardner, Mass.) along with classmate Logan Vincent (Marathon, N.Y.) will power the offense from the forward position.  

Morrisville State College will also return nine players and seven starters from last season’s squad.  The Mustangs will be led offensively by junior forward Lauren Kellum (Eaton, N.Y.), who was second in the conference in goals (9), assists (3) and points (21) last season en route to being selected to the 2015-16 NEAC All-Conference Team.  Sophomore Holly Gamlen (Cazenovia, N.Y.) returns to lead the defense after starting all 16 Mustang contests last season while also being named a 2015-16 NEAC All-Conference selection, while being joined by junior Liz Leva (Hoosick Falls, N.Y.), a 15-game starter in goal last season.   

Keuka College placed fourth with three points.  They will see the return of seven starters that are highlighted by sophomore goalie Elizabeth Sherman (Auburn, N.Y.), who was named both the 2015-16 NEAC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year while leading the conference in both saves (258) and save percentage (.752).  Sherman will be joined by sophomores and fellow All-Conference selections Alyssa Orsino (Sauquoit, N.Y.) and Brianna Coia (Rome, N.Y.).  

The full 2016-17 NEAC field hockey preseason rankings can be found below:

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1 Wilson College (3) 15
2 Wells College* (1)
3 Morrisville State College* 9
4 Keuka College 3

*Tie broken by higher ordinal number points


The 2016-17 NEAC field hockey season** will begin on Thursday, September 1.  A full season schedule can be found on the NEAC website here.  Be sure to follow all the action throughout the season using the free NEAC mobile app, Front Row, which can be downloaded here

The preseason poll rankings were conducted by the NEAC field hockey coaches, with each coach ranking out all teams but their own using a staggered points system (five points for a first-place vote, three points for second place and one point for third place).  No self-voting was allowed.  This is the second year the NEAC has held preseason polls and they will now become a staple of all 18 conference-sponsored sports moving forward.

The North Eastern Athletic Conference has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University - Abington, Pennsylvania State University - Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College.  Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Penn State Altoona (M Volleyball) and Rutgers University - Camden (M Golf).  The North Eastern Athletic Conference has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s and women’s tennis.  

**Beginning in the 2016-17 season, NEAC full members Keuka College, Wells College and Wilson College will become associate members of the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) and will represent the West Division.  NAC members Castleton University, Colby-Sawyer College, Husson University, University of Maine-Farmington, New England College and Thomas (Me.) College will make up the East Division.  Each division will conduct regular season competition before holding divisional rounds of the NAC Tournament.  The two divisional champions will then square off to proclaim an overall champion, who will then earn the NAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Field Hockey Championship Tournament.