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America East + CAA women’s soccer preview

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: August 13, 2013

America East 

Brief Conference Bio:

2012 Conference Champion: Boston University
Conference Tournament Champion: Stony Brook
Striker of the Year: Amelia Pereira, Hartford
Midfielder of the Year: Emma Clark, Boston University
Defender of the Year: Jessica Morrow, Boston University
Goalkeeper of the Year: Erin Quinlan, Hartford
Rookie of the Year: Charlene Achille, Maine
Coaching Staff of the Year: Boston University, Hartford 

Teams (2012 overall/conference record):

Albany (6-10-3/3-4-1)
Binghamton (8-8-1/2-5-1)
Hartford (11-5-3/6-2-0)
Maine (7-7-3/3-3-2)
New Hampshire (5-12-2/3-4-1)
Stony Brook (12-7-3/3-4-1)
Massachusetts-Lowell (6-9-2/5-9-1*)
UMBC (1-11-5/0-5-3)
Vermont (4-13-2/3-4-1)

There’s change aplenty in what will be a new-look America East this fall. Boston University’s departure for the Patriot League leaves a void at the top, as the Terriers were a consistent presence at the top of the standings, winners of the last six regular season conference titles. Replacing BU is Massachusetts-Lowell, a program making its move into Division I territory for the first time.

It’s not just a change in programs in the America East either, as New Hampshire and Albany have new head coaches who took over earlier this year. Caitlin Cofer took over Albany at the end of June, while Sam Lopes is the new man in charge of New Hampshire, getting hired in February.

However, the real question may be which programs can step up and assume in the mantle in the absence of Boston University. One of the first names that jumps out is Hartford, which will have to find a new source of offense after the departure of Amelia Pereira, not to mention the graduation of other key cogs Caroline Dixon, Erin Quinlan and Shealagh Begley. If suitable replacements step up and into prominent roles, the transition could be smooth than most expect.

Outside of Hartford, the rest of the programs hovered around the three-win mark in conference play – indicating that like other mid-major conferences, it’s going to be another extremely competitive season. Stony Brook, which put together a run to the conference tournament title and the spot in the NCAA tournament, returns a number of All Conference performers, including forward Larissa Nysch and defender Ahriel Fernandez.

Other programs that were around mid-table in the conference, such as Vermont, Maine, and even the two programs with new coaches, New Hampshire and Albany, will aim to take that step forward and compete for conference honors. 

Colonial Athletic Association 

Brief Conference Bio:

2012 Conference Champion: William & Mary
Conference Tournament Champion: Hofstra
Player of the Year: Mallory Schaffer, William & Mary
Defensive Player of the Year: Eve Badana, Drexel
Rookie of the Year: Leah Galton, Hofstra
Coach of the Year: Ray Goon, Drexel

Teams (Overall/conference record):

College of Charleston (7-12-1/5-5-1**)
Delaware (9-8-1/6-4-0)
Drexel (13-3-3/7-2-1)
Hofstra (11-9-2/6-4-0)
James Madison (7-11-0/5-5-0)
Northeastern (9-9-1/7-3-0)
Towson (1-15-2/1-8-1)
UNC Wilmington (12-7-3/7-3-0)
William & Mary (14-5-1/8-2-0)

Three programs bolted the CAA in 2013. Old Dominion, George Mason and Georgia State all exited, with just the College of Charleston entering the fold to replace the departed programs.

None of those three teams placed in the top four regular season standings in 2012, and it was actually Hofstra that won the conference tournament after a fifth place finish. The Pride have a good shot at repeating and improving on that this coming year, with 10 of their 11 starters returning, including CAA Rookie of the Year Leah Galton. Also in the ranks of returners are midfielder Jill Mulholland, defender Ruby Staplehurt and junior midfielder Sam Scolarici.

For William & Mary, last year’s first-place finishers in the regular season, replacing the offensive production of Mallory Schaffer is the big challenge. Replacing the two-time CAA Player of the Year is certain to be no easy task, but that doesn’t mean the Tribe won’t be competitive. Eight starters do return, including forward Dani Rutter and defender Emily Fredrikson, while goalkeeper Caroline Casey is also back in net. 

Making significant strides last season was UNC Wilmington. Now the question is, can they take another step forward and remain in the mix of contenders? Five starters from last year’s squad have left, meaning that preseason will be crucial in trying to identify replacements and keeping the program at a high level. Returning contributors from 2012 include forward Maddie McCormick, midfielder Stephanie Bronson and defender Lindsey Byrne.

Another team in contention last season was Northeastern, another squad looking to progress after making a top four finish. Midfielder Hanna Terry, a First Team All-CAA selection in 2012, leads the returners, and she’ll be joined by defenders Awnalisa Walker and goalkeeper Paige Burnett.

Leading scorer from 2012 Lauren Wilson is back in the fold for James Madison, which was picked to finish fourth in this year’s preseason coaches vote. Becky Sparks, All-CAA Second Team selection, anchors the team’s back line.

Can Drexel make a push? They came close last year, and with the reigning CAA Defensive Player of the Year, goalkeeper Eve Badana, back in goal, there is a solid foundation for the Dragons to continue moving forward.

One of the wildcards this season is the addition of the College of Charleston. A mid-table finisher in the Southern Conference last year, they’ll look to make a splash in their first season in the CAA. Forward Sarah Cardamone led the team in goals and assists in 2012 and can certainly make an impact in her team’s new digs.

*Denotes 2012 Division II/Northeast-10 record

**Denotes 2012 overall/Southern Conference record

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