HAMDEN, Conn. – The Quinnipiac University women's soccer team was tabbed seventh in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced by the league office on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. The Bobcats return 19 student-athletes from last year's squad, each with the same goal in mind of winning the 2014 MAAC Championship.
Monmouth, who finished the 2013 season with a 17-2-2 overall record and claimed both the MAAC Regular-Season Title and the MAAC Championship, earned the top slot in the poll with 118 points. Fairfield, the runner-up in the tournament last season, finished second with 115 points, while Siena (83) and Marist (80) snatched third and fourth, respectively. Iona (76) and Rider (76) tied for fifth, followed by Quinnipiac (57), Niagara (46), Canisius (32), Manhattan (32) and Saint Peter's (13) to round out the census.
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The MAAC also released its Preseason All-Conference Team, headlined by four Monmouth players making the list. Fairfield's Ashley Small was tabbed the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, as voted upon by the league's 11 head coaches.
In its first season in the MAAC, Quinnipiac posted a 3-3-4 record in conference play and owned one of the best defenses in the league. The Bobcats' season came to a close in the MAAC Tournament after a tough 1-0 loss to Manhattan in the opening round. Three players were honored with All-MAAC honors in Jess Lavoie (Berlin, Connecticut), Jessica Fontaine (Enfield, Connecticut) and Joanna Proctor (Frimley, England) – all three of which return in 2014.
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Quinnipiac, who has advanced to postseason play in four of the last six seasons, will once again rely on its defense in 2014. The Bobcats return the majority of their backline, including junior goalkeeper Natalia Grodzki (Bartlett, Ill.). Grodzki ranked fifth among netminders in the MAAC with a 1.07 goals against average. She turned away nearly 80 percent of the shots she faced and allowed 18 goals in 16 matches.
The Bobcats also return Taylor Healey (Milford, Connecticut), Proctor, and Laura Nicholas (Derry City, Northern Ireland) to their defensive unit. Healey, an All-New England (NEWISA) selection, enters her final season with 47 career appearances and two goals to her name. Proctor, an All-Rookie Team honoree, and Nicholas saw action in nearly every game in 2013. Proctor started 14 of the 16 games she appeared in while Nicholas played in 14 games, 13 of them in a starting role.
Anchoring Quinnipiac's midfield will be Lavoie, who appeared in all 16 games for the Bobcats this season while starting in 14 games. Lavoie scored her first career goal on Oct. 19 at Canisius and also picked up an assist in a 3-0 win over Saint Peter's on Sept. 21. Lavoie has appeared in all but one game in her three-year career.
On the attack, Fontaine looks to follow a sensational freshman year as she returns for her sophomore season. In her first year with the Bobcats, she was the team-leader in goals (3), points (9), shots (25) and shots on goal (15). Highlighted by a four-point effort against Saint Peter's (Sept. 21), Fontaine earned All-Rookie Team honors at seasons end.
Looking to make an impact up top, seniors Caitlyn Shaw (North Haven, Connecticut) and Christina Cesarini (Garden City, N.Y.) also return to the lineup in 2014. Shaw scored her lone goal of the season in a 2-0 win against Rider on Sept. 28. Sophomore Kelly Caruso (Rocky Hill, Connecticut), an All-New England (NEWISA) honoree, rounds out the group of returning scorers for the Bobcats.
Quinnipiac's quest begins on Friday, Aug. 22 with its season-opener at Maine. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at the Maine Soccer Field in Orono.
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