Connecticut Tops 2010 BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason Poll

Connecticut Tops 2010 BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason Poll
Syracuse Lands Five on All-BIG EAST Preseason Team
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - With momentum from their 2009 BIG EAST Championship title, the Connecticut Huskies took top honors in the 2010 BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Huskies received 33 points, earning four out of a possible six first-place votes. Syracuse, last year's regular-season champions, landed in second with Louisville ranking third.
Connecticut posted a 19-2 record for the 2009 campaign, finishing second in the conference in regular-season play with a 5-1 mark. This year the Huskies will look to junior BIG EAST Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Rayell Heistand to anchor the defense, which led the league in goals-against average last season at 1.17. After graduating the conference's Offensive Player of the Year in Loren Sherer, UConn will depend on All-BIG EAST Preseason Team picks junior Ali Blankmeyer and senior Melissa Gonzalez. For the 2009 season, Blankmeyer netted 11 goals with four assists, totaling 26 points, while Gonzalez collected 14 points. Both Heistand and Gonzalez were unanimous selections.  
Syracuse tallied 32 points with two first-place votes. The Orange won the 2009 BIG EAST regular-season crown, posting a perfect 6-0 record in conference play and going 17-3 overall. They return two-time all-America selection senior Lindsey Conrad, who was named the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. In 2009, the forward finished second in the BIG EAST in points, collecting 43 with 17 goals and nine assists.
SU had more players on this year's Preseason squad than any other school with five. Conrad and classmate Maggie Befort were unanimous choices, along with junior Martina Loncarica, who posted a team-high 17 assists last season. Also making the list were sophomores Amy Kee and Leann Stiver, the Preseason All-BIG EAST goalkeeper. Kee had the second-highest number of points for the Orange in 2009 with 34, netting 12 goals and assisting on 10. Between the posts, Stiver collected two shutouts and 49 saves as a freshman, while allowing 21 goals for a 1.29 goals-against average, ranking second in the BIG EAST.
Louisville rounds out the top three in the preseason poll with 28 points, including one first-place nod. Last year, the Cardinals went 12-8 overall and 4-2 in the BIG EAST to finish third in the regular-season standings. Louisville put a pair of seniors and a junior on the All-BIG EAST Preseason Team via Tuli Lim, Nicole Youman and Hayley Turner; Youman was selected to the squad unanimously. Turner and Youman led the Cards offensively in 2009, recording 41 points and 38 points, respectively.
Also making the All-BIG EAST Preseason Team were seniors Jaime Lipski of Providence and Dana Ramsden of Villanova. In 2009, Lipski was second on the Friar squad in assists with six, while Ramsden was the second-highest points leader for the Wildcats, scoring 14 goals with eight assists. 
Field hockey season officially starts Friday, Aug. 27 with BIG EAST play beginning Friday, Sept. 17. The BIG EAST field hockey teams play a six-game league schedule.
The 2010 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship is a four-team, single-elimination tournament. The top-four teams seeded by conference point total qualify for the Conference Championship. The semifinals and finals will both be conducted at the George J. Sherman Family-Sports Complex on the University of Connecticut campus Saturday, Nov. 6 and Sunday, Nov. 7. The semifinals will take place Saturday with the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds squaring off at 11 a.m., while the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds will play at 1:30 p.m. The championship match-up will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. The champion receives the league's automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship.             
2010 BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason Poll
                                                            2009                        2009                        BIG EAST
School                                    Points                        Overall            BIG EAST            Regular Season Finish
1. Connecticut (4)                    33                               19-2                  5-1                        2nd
2. Syracuse (2)                        32                               17-3                  6-0                        1st
3. Louisville (1)                        28                               12-8                  4-2                        3rd
4. Providence                          18                               10-10                 3-3                        4th
5. Villanova                             17                                9-8                    2-4                        5th
6. Rutgers                                13                               2-16                  0-6                        7th
7. Georgetown                         6                                 2-18                  1-5                        6th
2010 BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason Award Winners
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Lindsey Conrad, Sr., F, Syracuse
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Rayell Heistand, Jr., B, Connecticut
All-BIG EAST Preseason Team
*Maggie Befort, Sr., B, Syracuse
Ali Blankmeyer, Jr., M/F, Connecticut
*Lindsey Conrad, Sr., F, Syracuse
*Melissa Gonzalez, Sr., F, Connecticut
*Rayell Heistand, Jr., B, Connecticut
Amy Kee, So., B, Syracuse
Tuli Lim, Sr., F/M, Louisville
Jaime Lipski, Sr., M/F, Providence
*Martina Loncarica, Jr., M, Syracuse
Dana Ramsden, Sr., F, Villanova
Leann Stiver, So., GK, Syracuse
Hayley Turner, Jr., M, Louisville
*Nicole Youman, Sr., M/B, Louisville
* - unanimous selection
^ - Due to a tie in voting, extra members have been added to the BIG EAST Preseason All-Conference Team