TOWSON, Md. – Catholic University's field hockey team was picked to lead the Landmark to another championship this season. The Cardinals received six first place votes on the way to earning 67 points and the top position in the 2014 Landmark Field Hockey Preseason Poll. Elizabethtown finished second in the poll with 45 points and two first place votes while Drew University finished third with 37 points. The University of Scranton rounds out the top half of the poll with 36 points.
Catholic (15-6, 4-2) returns to the field coming off a historical season with the program's first 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.
The veteran-heavy Elizabethtown Blue Jays (14-6, 7-1 Commonwealth) are looking for a big year as a first-year member of the Landmark Conference. The Blue Jays led Messiah 2-0 in the Commonwealth Conference Championship game last November before three goals in a 20-minute span spoiled their national tournament hopes. The team returns its entire starting defense from 2013 as well as five of its six double-figure point scorers from a season ago.
Drew (16-4, 6-0) has unfinished business this year. After taking the No. 1 seed in the Landmark Conference tournament with a 6-0 league record in 2013, the Rangers fell in back-to-back overtime games to exit in the Landmark semifinals and the ECAC quarterfinals. The desire to finish what they started is there, but they will have to do it without All-American Brooke Gagliano.
Scranton (14-6, 3-3) returns nearly its entire lineup intact from last year's team that advanced to the Landmark Championship. Scranton also won 14 games, the most for the program since 1998. Among the 10 returning starters are two-time First Team All-Landmark selection Jessica Pankey, and three-time Second Team All-Landmark pick Alyssa Fania.
Juniata College (9-11, 4-2) was picked fifth in the poll with 30 points and Susquehanna University (9-9, 2-4) was selected sixth with 20 points. Moravian College (9-8, 2-4) earned 13 points for seventh place, while Goucher College (4-13, 0-6) wrapped up with eight points for the eighth spot.
The 2014 season kicks off Friday, Aug. 29 with seven teams in action before Moravian begins the season Aug. 30.
The top four teams in the final regular season standings qualify for postseason play in the Landmark Conference Tournament. The top two seeds will host semifinals Nov. 5 with the highest remaining seed scheduled to host the championship Nov. 8. The conference champion will earn the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
|2014 Landmark Field Hockey Preseason Poll|
|Rank||Institution (First Place)||Points|