West Babylon, N.Y. - The coaches of the East Coast Conference predict a third straight conference title for the University of Bridgeport women's soccer team, selecting them first in the league's preseason poll. The coaches also selected Haley Noble (Torrance, Calif.) and Ally Boots (Yorba Linda, Calif.), teammates at Mercy College, as the league's Preseason Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
Coming off their second straight ECC and NCAA East Region Championships in 2016, Bridgeport earned six of nine first place votes to top the poll with 75 points. The Purple Knights earn the top spot in the poll despite losing three All-Americans to graduation and returning only two starters from last year's squad. One of the returning starters is two-time reigning ECC Goalkeeper of the Year, Jennifer Wendelius. Bridgeport also begins the season ranked No. 7 in the Uniter Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) Division II Preseason Top 25 poll.
LIU Post was the runner-up in the poll with two first place votes and 72 points. The Pioneers finished last season with a 15-4-2 record and advanced to the final of the ECC Championship. LIU Post, who also made their third straight appearance in the NCAA Championship, joins Bridgeport in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25, coming in at No. 18.
Mercy, who has made three straight trips to the ECC Championship, earned the final first place vote and 63 points to come in third place. Roberts Wesleyan rounds out the expected playoff teams with a fourth place finish in the poll, meaning the coaches expect no changes to the league's playoff bracket for the third straight season.
Mercy has reason to be optimistic heading in to 2017 with both Noble and Boots on the roster. Noble was among the league's top offensive players in 2016, scoring 10 goals and dishing off five assists to compile 25 points. All three totals ranked among the conference's top-seven. Her outstanding season earned her postseason honors including a spot on the All-Conference First Team and NSCAA All-Region Second Team.
Boots shined in her debut season for the Mavericks. The back started all 18 games for a Mavericks squad that only allowed a 1.10 goals against average. Her lock-down defense earned her ECC Rookie of the Year honors and a selection to the All-Conference and NSCAA All-Region Second Team.
2017 ECC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
|1. Bridgeport (6)||75||18-4-0 (8-0-0 ECC)|
|2. LIU Post (2)||72||15-4-2 (6-1-1 ECC)|
|3. Mercy (1)||63||12-5-1 (5-2-1 ECC)|
|4. Roberts Wesleyan||51||10-5-2 (5-2-1 ECC)|
|5. Molloy||47||7-8-2 (4-3-1 ECC)|
|6. Queens||29||4-12-1 (1-6-1 ECC)|
|7. NYIT||26||6-7-0 (3-5-0 ECC)|
|8. Daemen||25||4-10-2 (1-6-1 ECC)|
|9. St. Thomas Aquinas||17||3-13-0 (0-8-0 ECC)|
( ) - first place votes