MADISON, N.J. - The University of Scranton women's soccer team has been picked as the favorite in the first season of play in the Landmark Conference as selected in the Landmark Preseason Women's Soccer Poll.
The head coaches and sports information directors for the seven Landmark programs that compete in women's soccer were polled, and Scranton finished atop the poll with 53 points. The Catholic University of America tallied 45 points in the balloting to claim the second spot. Susquehanna University ranked third in the poll with 39 points. Moravian College, Juniata College and Drew University held the next three positions with Goucher College rounding out the seven-team poll.
Scranton was an NCAA Tournament participant in 2006 when it posted a record of 12-7-2. Eight starters will be back in the fold for the Royals, including six who have captured All-Conference recognition during their careers. The team will be adjusting to a new head coach after the tragic passing of longtime coach Joe Bochicchio in late July.
Catholic was also a postseason participant in 2006 as the Cardinals earned a spot in the ECAC postseason. All four of the team's All-Conference selections from a season ago are back this season, and the Cardinals bring back eight starters overall from the group that posted an 11-8-1 record.
A young Susquehanna squad claimed the third spot in the poll after a 7-7-3 season last year. The Crusaders lost two key players from last year's squad, but return nine different players who tallied at least one goal. The team also had eight goals scored by freshmen in 2006.
One All-Conference performer from 2006, and a starting keeper who played every minute last year highlight the returnees for Moravian which holds the fourth spot in the poll with 30 points. The Greyhounds posted a 7-9 record a year ago and have eight starters back in the fold for 2007.
Juniata secured the fifth spot in the rankings with 28 points after a 10-win season in 2006. The Eagles went 10-8-1 last season, and bring back an All-Conference defender. Nine starters return from that team along with nine players who scored at least one goal during the 2006 campaign.
Drew, which earned 25 points in the poll, will need to replace six starters from a team that posted a 6-11-1 mark last season. Among the returning starters is an All-Conference keeper who earned four shutouts last year along with the team's fourth-leading goal scorer and point producer from last season.
Goucher holds the seventh spot in the poll with 11 points after a 3-13-1 season in 2006. The Gophers enter the year with eight starters returning, including four players who tallied at least three goals a year ago. Two of those three-goal scorers were freshmen.
The Landmark Conference begins competition this Fall and will host a women's soccer postseason conference championship tournament. The first regular season conference matches in Landmark history will be September 22 as Scranton hosts Susquehanna and Moravian and Juniata square off.