PROVIDENCE, R.I. - For the third consecutive year, the BIG EAST women's lacrosse coaches have selected Georgetown as the favorite in the league's preseason poll. The Hoyas totaled 60 points, including five first-place votes and were narrowly picked ahead of Syracuse (59 points), which had three first-place selections. Loyola landed third with 51 points, including one first-place vote. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Syracuse junior Michelle Tumolo was tabbed as the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and was one of nine unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST honorees. She totaled 63 points last season on 30 goals and 33 assists. Tumolo also earned All-BIG EAST First Team honors in 2011.
Loyola senior Ana Heneberry was picked as the BIG EAST Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. A third-team All-American in 2011, Heneberry anchored a Loyola defense that finished the year ranked 12th in the NCAA by allowing just 8.85 goals per game. She also helped Loyola lead the nation in caused turnovers per game (11.75) finishing second on the team with 28.
Heneberry is a two-time All-BIG EAST Second Team selection and has earned dual all-region honors by the IWLCA. She was also named to the 2011 BIG EAST All-Tournament Team after helping the program claim its first conference title since joining the league in 2005.
Georgetown returns six starters and 23 letterwinners to a squad that won the 2011 BIG EAST regular-season crown and earned the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Championship. The Hoyas went 9-8 last season, including 7-1 in BIG EAST play. Kelsi Bozel and Sophia Thomas, both midfielders, were unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST picks for the Hoyas. Senior Kelly Barnes will anchor the Georgetown defense this year, while junior Dina Jackson will lead the attack. Each player was named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST squad.
Syracuse, which has advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Championship in two of the last four years under the direction of head coach Gary Gait, was picked second. The Orange (10-8, 7-1 BIG EAST) return seven starters and 22 letterwinners. Syracuse has three Preseason All-BIG EAST selections, including Tumolo. Adding to the offense will be unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection and sophomore Katie Webster. Junior defender Becca Block also was named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST team.
Loyola (17-3, 6-2 BIG EAST) was the league's automatic entrant in the NCAA Championship last year and brings back seven starters and 17 letterwinners. Led by 2011 BIG EAST Coach of the Year Jen Adams, the Greyhounds begin their seventh year of BIG EAST play, having joined the league in 2006. Loyola has four Preseason All-BIG EAST selections. Senior goalkeeper Kerry Stoothoff was a unanimous choice to the team along with Heneberry. Senior defender Kellye Gallagher and sophomore midfielder Marlee Paton also were picked to the league's preseason team.
Notre Dame begins the year under the direction of first-year head coach Christine Halfpenny, who joined the Irish after five years as the head coach at William & Mary. Senior attack Maggie Tamasitis should lead the offense after totaling 67 points last season. The unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection had a league-leading 46 assists and 21 goals. Sophomore midfielder Kaitlyn Brosco also was selected for the league's preseason squad. Last year Notre Dame (10-9, 6-2 BIG EAST) advanced to the title game of the BIG EAST Championship.
Rutgers was picked fifth and will look to senior Ali Steinberg to lead the team. A unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection, Steinberg had 35 points, including 28 goals last year. The Scarlet Knights were 9-7 last season, 3-5 in BIG EAST play.
Connecticut (9-7, 3-5 BIG EAST) landed in sixth-place and will look to senior attack M.E. Lapham to lead the offense. A unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection, Lapham totaled 63 points, including 55 goals last year. She is the league's top returning scorer.
Louisville, Cincinnati and Villanova round out the poll. Villanova senior Justine Donodeo is a Preseason All-BIG EAST pick after totaling 51 points, including 39 goals last season. The Wildcats are under the direction of first-year head coach Julie Young. She spent the past three seasons as head coach at Haverford College.
The 2012 BIG EAST women's lacrosse season begins on Friday, Feb. 17. The BIG EAST championship is set for Thursday, May 3, with the title game set for Saturday, May 5. The championship will be held at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
2012 BIG EAST Women's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Georgetown (5) 60
2. Syracuse (3) 59
3. Loyola (1) 51
4. Notre Dame 44
5. Rutgers 34
6. Connecticut 27
7. Louisville 26
8. Villanova 12
9. Cincinnati 11
First-place votes in parentheses
2012 BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Michelle Tumolo, Syracuse, Junior, Attack
2012 BIG EAST Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Ana Heneberry, Loyola, Senior, Defense
2012 BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
Kelly Barnes, Georgetown, Senior, Defense
Becca Block, Syracuse, Junior, Defense
Kaitlyn Brosco, Notre Dame, Sophomore, Midfield
*Kelsi Bozel, Georgetown, Junior, Midfield
Justine Donodeo, Villanova, Senior, Midfield
Kellye Gallagher, Loyola, Senior, Defense
*Ana Heneberry, Loyola, Senior, Defense
Dina Jackson, Georgetown, Junior, Attack
*M.E. Lapham, Connecticut, Senior, Attack
Marlee Paton, Loyola, Sophomore, Midfield
*Ali Steinberg, Rutgers, Senior, Midfield
*Kerry Stoothoff, Loyola, Senior, Goalkeeper
*Maggie Tamasitis, Notre Dame, Senior, Attack
*Sophia Thomas, Georgetown, Junior, Midfield
*Michelle Tumolo, Syracuse, Junior, Attack
*Katie Webster, Syracuse, Sophomore, Midfield