Aug 28, 2013

NEW YORK - Connecticut, the 2012 BIG EAST field hockey tournament champion, is the unanimous choice to win the 2013 regular-season title by a vote of the league's head coaches.

Husky forward Marie Elena Bolles was named Preseason BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year. The Preseason BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year was shared by UConn goalkeeper Sarah Mansfield and Old Dominion senior back Christy Longacre. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.

UConn and Old Dominion are associate members of the BIG EAST for field hockey in 2013. They are joined in the eight-team field hockey conference by current members Providence, Villanova and Georgetown along with additional associate members Louisville, Rutgers and Temple.

Connecticut is coming off a 19-3 season. The Huskies began their year 16-0 and ended the season in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. Over the past 17 seasons, UConn has won 11 regular-season and 12 conference tournament crowns.

This year, UConn is ranked third nationally in the NFHCA coaches' preseason poll. Bolles, a senior forward, posted 12 goals and eight assists last year. She was named BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year at the conclusion of the regular season. This summer, she played on the USA U-21 squad that competed in the Junior World Championships. Longacre, a senior, was the CAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. She contributed offensively with 10 goals and was a second-team all-America selection.

Mansfield earned first-team all-America honors last year and was a first team All-BIG EAST selection. She started every match for the Huskies. Her 1.13 goals against average ranked second in the nation.

Connecticut received all seven possible first-place votes in the poll. Old Dominion finished in second place with 41 points, two points ahead of Louisville. The Monarchs are eighth in this year's NFHCA preseason poll. They finished 15-6 last year while advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals. In addition to Longacre, ODU was represented on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team by junior midfielder Kelsey Smither, who also played on the USA U-21 Team this summer, and junior forward Rosario Villagra. Smither led ODU with 11 assists last season. Villagra registered a team-high 34 points, including 13 goals.

Louisville finished 12-8 last season. Junior back Alyssa Voelmle is a preseason All-BIG EAST pick after earning second team All-BIG EAST honors last year. In addition to her defensive skills, she was third on the team in scoring with 19 points, including eight goals.

Providence, Rutgers and Temple were bunched in the middle of the poll, at fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Providence is led by junior defender Henni Tietze, who earned preseason all-conference honors. She started every game at centerback last season, while recording a career-high 26 points, including 11 goals. Tietze was named All-BIG EAST First Team. Rutgers leans on midfielder Alyssa Bull, a sophomore who was the 2012 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. She finished with five goals. Temple is represented on the Preseason All-BIG EAST team by forward Amber Youtz, who was named Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2012. She led the league in scoring with 22 goals and 54 total points.

Villanova and Georgetown were seventh and eighth, respectively, in the poll.

The Preseason All-BIG EAST Team includes 11 players. Four were unanimous selections. Connecticut also placed junior forward Chloe Hunnable and junior midfielder Chrissy Davidson on the all-conference squad.

BIG EAST teams will play a seven-game conference schedule. The top four teams in the regular season standings will compete in the 2013 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship will be held Nov. 8 & 10 at the University of Connecticut.

2013 BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll

1.Connecticut (7)49
2.Old Dominion (1)41

2013 BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason All-BIG EAST Team

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Marie Elena Bolles, Connecticut
Preseason Defensive Players of the Year Sarah Mansfield, Connecticut
Christy Longacre, Old Dominion

*Marie Elena Bolles, Sr., Connecticut
Chloe Hunnable, Jr., Connecticut
Rosario Villagra, Jr., Old Dominion
*Amber Youtz, Jr., Temple

Chrissy Davidson, Jr., Connecticut
Kelsey Smither, Jr., Old Dominion
Alyssa Bull, So., Rutgers

Alyssa Voelmle, Jr., Louisville
Christy Longacre, Sr., Old Dominion
*Henni Tietze, Jr., Providence

*Sarah Mansfield, Sr., Connecticut

*denotes unanimous selection