August 26, 2016

Castleton & Colby-Sawyer Headline 2016 NAC Women's Soccer Coaches' Poll

Castleton University and Colby-Sawyer College tied for the top spot in the 2016 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) women's soccer preseason poll. Both the Spartans and Chargers received 93 points, with Castleton receiving five first place votes and Colby-Sawyer earning four.

Maine Maritime Academy was selected third after claiming 72 points, while New England College took fourth with 71 points and Husson claimed fifth with 64 points after receiving the final first place vote. Rounding out the poll were the University of Maine at Farmington in sixth (52 points), Thomas College in seventh (41 points), Johnson State College in eighth (32 points), Lyndon State College in ninth (21 points), and Green Mountain College in 10th (11 points).

Voting for the preseason poll was conducted among the league's head women's soccer coaches.

The 2015 NAC Tournament saw the top six teams in the 2016 poll compete for the NAC title. The top seeds held through the quarterfinals as No. 4 New England College defeated No. 5 UMF 5-1 and No. 3 Maine Maritime earned a 1-0 victory over No. 6 Husson. The semifinals produced an upset as NEC claimed a 3-1 win over top-seeded Castleton, while No. 2 Colby-Sawyer and Maine Maritime needed 98 minutes to decide a winner, as the Chargers walked away with a 1-0 victory. The 2015 tightly contested title match went to Colby-Sawyer after a 1-0 final over New England College. 

After claiming the teams third-consecutive conference championship, the Chargers saw their season come to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Colby-Sawyer fell to No. 16 ranked Amherst, as the Purple & White scored the lone goal of the match in the 80th minute to advance.

2016 NAC Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll

Team Points (First Place Votes)
T1. Castleton  93 (5)
T1. Colby-Sawyer 93 (4)
3. Maine Maritime 72
4. New England College          71
5. Husson 64 (1)
6. UMaine-Farmington 52
7. Thomas 41
8. Johnson State 32
9. Lyndon 21
10. Green Mountain 11

The 2016 NAC women's soccer campaign kicks off with all ten teams in action next week. The top six teams in the 2016 regular-season conference standings will qualify for the NAC tournament, which gets underway Sunday, October 30, with quarterfinal action between seeds 3-6. The top two seeds will earn a bye in the first round and will take on the two quarterfinal winners in the semifinals on Wednesday, November 2. The two semifinal victors will battle for the NAC championship on Saturday, November 5.

Click HERE to view the 2016 NAC Women's Soccer composite schedule.
Click HERE to view the 2016 NAC Women's Soccer conference only schedule. 

2016 NAC Women's Soccer Previews

For more information on each team, click the school name to be directed to the women's soccer section of each school's website.

T1. Castleton (12-8, 9-0 NAC)
will look to continue its string of success in 2016, as veteran head coach and reigning NAC Coach of the Year Chris Chapdelaine returns for his 12th season with the Spartans. Castleton returns 16 players from last year's team, including seven starters. First Team All-Conference midfielder Eva Clark (St. Albans, Vt.) and Second Team All-Conference forward Shelby McLenithan (Bennington, Vt.; pictured right) are the top returning scorers, as the two combined for 17 goals and six assists in 2015. Returning in goal is Jessica Binkowski (Goshen, Conn.), a 2015 First Team All-Conference selection, who led all goalkeepers in conference play with a .939 save percentage and 0.36 goals-against average. The Spartans bring in 12 new faces, including the 2015 Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year, Izzy Hutnak (Cumberland, Maine). Castleton looks to return to the NAC Championship contest in 2016 after being upset, 3-1, in the semifinal round against New England College last year. 


T1. Colby-Sawyer (13-4-2, 8-1 NAC) will be led by fifth-year head coach Meghan Medbery, as the Chargers will look to make it to the NAC tournament for a sixth-straight season. Medbery returns first team All-NAC honorees junior Corrie Hoyt (Lebanon, Conn.), senior Kelsey Campbell (Upton, Mass.) and senior Rachel Quaye (Westminster, Mass.; pictured right). Quaye led the Chargers with 19 points on eight goals, which included a team best four game-winners, and three assists. In addition, second team All-NAC recipients junior Emily Martin (Amesbury, Mass.) and sophomore Abbie Sansoucy (Douglas, Mass.) will provide the Chargers with experience in the starting lineup. 


Maine Maritime (10-8-1, 6-2-1 NAC)
 will be under the guidance of Seth Brown who enters his fourth season at the helm of the Mariners squad. Maine Maritime will see Makayla Lewis (Purcellville, Va.; pictured right), the 2015 North Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Year and the team's leading goal scorer (12 G, 5 A), and senior Morgan Libby (Brunswick, Maine), the 2015 NAC Defensive Player of the Year, return, along with sophomore Susana DeFrank (Temecula, Calif.), who earned NAC First Team honors in her freshman season. The Mariners will look to a strong core of returning players and a talented group of incoming freshman to return to the NAC Tournament after making it to the NAC Semifinals last year. 



New England College (10-11-1, 5-4 NAC)
 is looking to return to the NAC Championship game for the second time in school history this season. The Pilgrims advanced to the NAC Championship game last year after upsetting Castleton in semifinal action before falling to Colby-Sawyer 1-0 in the championship. Head coach Paul Vazquez is entering his ninth season at the helm and will look to the senior duo of Jessica Barnum (Hartland, Vt.; pictured right) and Rachel Thomas (Raleigh, N.C.) to lead the way. Both Barnum and Thomas earned NAC Second Team All-Conference honors a season ago. NEC will also return senior keeper Mackenzie Meegan (Phoenix, Ariz.) and junior forward Jaycie Tirandafilou (Newburyport, Mass.).  




5. Husson (8-10-1, 4-5 NAC) will be led by Amanda Cummings, who enters her second season as the head coach and third year on the staff in 2016. The Eagles return 20 players from last year's team including three of the team's top five scorers in 2015 including Leah Hibbad (Portsmouth, R.I.; pictured right), a 2015 All-NAC second team selection, Taylor Fortin (Goffstown, N.H.) and Hannah Clough (Mount Vernon, Maine). Husson will look to capture their first NAC Championship since 2009 with the talent and depth of the 2016 squad.



6. UMaine-Farmington (7-10-1, 4-4-1 NAC) will try to carry late momentum from last season into 2016 as the Beavers won five of their last seven final regular season games. Molly Wilkie enters her ninth season at the helm of UMF women's soccer and blends a mix of veteran leadership with a solid group of young players. UMF returns its veteran leader in senior Katie Clark (Westbrook, Maine; pictured right). Fellow senior Bridget Humphrey (Jefferson, Maine) will join Clark and the Beavers' offense after ranking second on the team in goals scored last season. Junior goalkeeper Kiana Thompson (Industry, Maine) and sophomore Lydia Roy (Waterville, Maine) will also add a balanced attack for UMF. The Beavers will have quality non-conference opponents visit Leib Field, including Southern Maine, St. Joseph's, and Colby. UMaine-Farmington opens the season on September 3 at home against Wellesley.



Thomas (7-9, 4-5 NAC)
 will be led by sixth-year head coach Deb Biche-Labbe. Last season marked the best overall record for the program since going 8-8-2 in 2007. All-Conference player Paige Leary (Palermo, Maine; pictured right) returns for her fourth season in goal for the Terriers. The young Terrier squad will consist of 10 returners and nine first-year players. Thomas will look to qualify for the NAC tournament in 2016.


Johnson State (5-12, 3-6 NAC)
 will be led by first-year head coach Andrew Lafrenz. The Badgers will look to All-NAC Second Team selection junior Kylie Aither (Hyde Park, Vt.; pictured right) to provide a scoring touch at forward after recording 19 points last season. Returning senior midfielder Briana Stadler (Cornwall, N.Y.) and sophomore defender Aleia Augsberger (Craftsbury Common, Vt.) will also be looked to for contributions. Johnson welcomes a talented group of newcomers including midfielders Carmen Shappy(Milton, Vt.) and Shelby Baker (Arlington, Vt.), defender Andrea Mercer (Naugatuck, Conn.), and goalkeeper Kaila Lemmer (Barnard, Vt.). The Badgers will begin their pursuit of a NAC tournament spot on September 1 in a home match against Curry College. 



Lyndon (2-13-1, 1-8 NAC)
will see Morgan Crespo take the reins in 2016 after two years with the program as an assistant. Leading scorer Shelby Sheridan (Enosburg Falls, Vt.) returns for her senior season along with junior goalkeeper Johanna Sargent (West Brookfield, Vt.; pictured right), both of which started all 16 games in 2015. Sophomore midfielder Brooke Breault (Albany, Vt.) and junior forward Sarah Gerry (South Hero, Vt.) will be called upon to increase production as veterans. Coach Crespo will look to new additions Paige Martin (Bath, N.H.) and Victoria Carlson (East Haven, Conn.) to produce on the offensive end with Kelsey Jacobs (Randolph, Vt.) making an impact on defense for the Hornets. With a young team, Lyndon will count on the returners to lead the way as they use a competitive non-conference schedule to prepare for NAC play. 



10. Green Mountain (2-14, 0-9 NAC) will be led by Dave Morris who enters his first season as the Eagles' head coach. Green Mountain will see just five players return from the 2015 squad after a large graduating class. Seniors Casie Sharp (Newbury, Mass.; pictured right) and Brianna Alimonti (Revere, Mass.) will lead the Eagles into play this fall. Sharp will provide leadership along the backline, while Alimonti will instill a brand of toughness through her play in the midfield. Key contributions are also expected of returning sophomores Kali DeMarco (Mechanicville, N.Y.), Shanaya Earle (North Clarendon, Vt.) and Suzanna Moses (Strafford, Vt.). The team will be buoyed by a host of incoming players, both freshmen and transfers as coach Morris looks to imprint his style of play onto the Eagles.