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NFHCA preseason poll puts Maryland No. 1

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The National Field Hockey Coaches Association lists three DMV schools in its Preseason top 20. Maryland is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Div. I ranks. American University is No. 19. Div. III Catholic University is picked at No. 15 in the polls released Aug. 26.

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Maryland junior Anna Dessoye (U.S. Under-21 Team member) and seniors Maxine Fluharty (also member of U.S. Under-21 team) and Katie Gerzabek were the three Terrapins were named to the Big Ten Players to Watch list released Aug. 21. Maryland finished 2013 ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Dessoye is Maryland’s leading returning scorer, after she notched 13 goals and 16 assists in 2013. Fluharty added 12 goals and seven assists last year, while Gerzabek scored five goals and notched three assists in her 19 games played.

The Big 10 gains respect with the Terps. Five other schools in the conference are in the top 20, only Penn State (9th) is in the top 10. The Nittany Lions are the two-time defending Big 10 title holders. The team is led Taylor Herold (James Monroe High), a second team all conference midfielder/forward. Herold led the team in scoring with in 2013 with 13 goals and 30 points.

AU earned 68 points and eight first-place votes, while Boston University, which the Eagles defeated in the PL championship a year ago, was just behind with 66 points and six first-place votes.

First-team All-PL selection Grace Wilson and 2014 second-team pick Carly Atchison were voted to the Preseason All-Patriot League Field Hockey Team. In addition, the Eagles were tabbed as the favorites to defend their team title from a year ago in the balloting by the league’s coaches and sports information directors.

Wilson, a senior defender, was one of three Eagles who started all 21 matches in AU’s run to a 15-6 overall record, a 6-0 PL mark and the league title. She was second on the team in scoring with 23 points, and tied for the team lead with three game-winning goals.

Atchison, a midfielder, led the team and the Patriot League with 11 assists. She also made 21 starts and had a six-game streak with at least one point during the season last year.

Georgetown hired an expert rebuilder to put fire in the belly of its team. Shannon Soares, a Centreville, Va. native, takes over on the Hilltop. She served as Virginia Commonwealth University’s head coach from November 2011 to May 2013. Soares led the Rams to a 13-6 record in her first year as head coach during the 2012 season and earned the program’s first berth to the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The team’s 2012 finish ranked as the third-best turnaround in Division I field hockey that year after going 5-13 in the 2011 season.

The Blue and Gray return 16 players from last year’s 2-16 squad. Ten veterans saw action in 12 games or more. Among the returners is junior forward Sarah Butterfield who was the team’s top goal scorer last season with six. Junior midfielder Emily Weinberg also returns to the squad. Weinberg started all 18 games last season and scored two goals for the Hoyas. GU is picked to finish in the Big East this fall.

The Cardinals are predicted to win their fourth consecutive Landmark Conference title this season. CU topped the eight-team list with six first place votes and 67 total points.

LC newcomers Elizabethtown is ranked second with two first place finishes and 45 points. Drew is predicted to finish in third place at 37 points.

Catholic (15-6, 4-2) returns to the field coming off a the program’s first NCAA Elite Eight appearance and third consecutive Landmark championship a year ago. Head coach Gia Cillizza returns 22 of her 24 student-athletes including All-American Maura Campbell, but will have to replace Cardinal graduate and All-American goalkeeper Megan Comunale.

Rising senior Kim Hermann, was named to the First Team Longstreth/NFHCA All-Region team and First Team All-Landmark, concluded the regular season ranked No. 4 in points with 32 and No. 3 in goals with 14 among her conference counterparts.

Salisbury University is ranked No. 2. Hannah Miller (Severna Park High School) had seven points for the Sea Gulls last year. Mary Washington University ranked No. 16 in Div. III. The Eagles roster includes Christine Downie (Yorktown High).

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