MADISON, N.J. – After claiming its first Landmark women's soccer championship in 2010 the Cardinals will enter the 2010 campaign as the favorite to match that title according to the 2010 Landmark Preseason Women's Soccer Poll. The head women's soccer coaches and sports information directors at each institution that sponsors the sport were polled for the preseason ballot.
Fittingly, after a regular season in which only four points separated the top five teams in the standings last season, the voting the top spot was tight with Catholic narrowly edging out The University of Scranton with 69 points compared to 64 for the Royals. Drew University sits in third in the voting with 48 points while Moravian College earned 40 points to barely edged out Susquehanna University for fourth position by a single point.
Catholic claimed its first Landmark title and went 17-3-1 overall en route to capturing the crown and making an NCAA tournament appearance. All-Region forward Kelly Donnelly, who has been an All-Conference choice each of her three seasons, headlines the returning players and is joined by reigning Landmark Rookie of the Year Courtney Orgill.
Eight starters are back for the Scranton team that went 13-4-2 a year ago while posting a 3-2-1 conference record. Three All-Conference performers are among those returnees led by 2009 Landmark Offensive Player of the Year Chelsea Paskman who has picked up All-Conference honors for three-straight seasons.
Drew vaulted from fifth in the Landmark standings in 2008 to second a season ago, finishing with a 4-1-1 conference mark. Though eight seniors departed for the Rangers, there are still eight starters back in the fold from last season's team. Junior Emily Weida tied for the team lead in points as a sophomore while earning All-Conference honors.
First-year head coach Brienne Smith takes over a Moravian team that went 3-2-1 in conference play and 8-8-2 overall last season, narrowly missing out on a postseason berth. Four of the team's five All-Conference players are back in the fold, and seven starters overall are back. Defenders Diana Feldman and Eileen Black both return to help lead the team's defensive unit.
Susquehanna also made its first Landmark postseason appearance in 2009, finishing in third place with a record of 4-2 and eventually reaching the Landmark Championship match. The Crusaders rode a stingy defense that allowed four goals in six Landmark matches. Senior defender Caitlin Murphy is one of seven starters returning and she will try to anchor that defense again in 2010.
Juniata College picked up 21 points in the voting to place sixth in the poll after a 5-12 season in 2009. Senior Erin Edinger leads the Eagles attack after tying for the team lead in goals last season and is one of six regular starters back for the team, and both the team's goalkeepers Kristen Penska and Lauren Auster-Gussman are both returning.
Goucher College placed seventh in the voting, compiling 13 points in the voting. The Gophers picked up three wins in 2009 with a young roster which featured only two seniors and four upperclassmen. The majority of the roster is back in 2010 led by All-Conference forward Sisley Pumilia and All-Conference goalie Kellen Matthews.
The 2010 season kicks off on Sept. 1 when six of seven Landmark teams will kickoff their seasons. Landmark competition will begin with three matches on Sept. 25. Moravian plays at Drew, Goucher hosts Juniata and Catholic welcomes Susquehanna in a rematch of the 2009 Landmark Championship match on the opening Landmark weekend.