Field Hockey Ranked 6th in NFHCA Preseason Poll

Smith is the reigning Division II Player of the Year after a recordbreaking junior season. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Skyhawks open season against #5 West Chester at W.B. Mason Stadium Saturday

Penn Monto/NFHCA Division II Preseason Coaches Poll

EASTON, Mass. (August 28, 2018) – The Stonehill College field hockey program is ranked No. 6 in the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II preseason poll, the coaches organization announced today.

Stonehill, ranked No. 1 in the Northeast-10 Conference preseason poll released earlier this month, collected 137 points in the NFHCA preseason poll, which is tightly-packed with 25 points separating No. 3-ranked LIU Post and No. 7 Saint Anselm College. Two-time defending NCAA Division II National Champions Shippensburg (Pa.) University is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll with 239 points and 18 first place votes, followed by East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University at No. 2 with 194 points and four first place votes. LIU Post is third with 161 points and a first place vote, followed by Millersville (Pa.) University in fourth (150 points) with a first place vote and then West Chester (Pa.) University rounding out the top five (147) with the final first place vote. Following Stonehill in sixth are Saint Anselm College (136) in seventh, Kutztown (Pa.) University (50) eighth, Merrimack College (46) ninth and then Bloomsburg (Pa.) University (33) in tenth.

Stonehill's 2018 schedule includes five of the ten teams that comprise the NFHCA preseason poll, starting with its season-opener against No. 5 West Chester as part of Kickoff Weekend at the College at W.B. Mason Stadium on Saturday at noon. The Skyhawks will face No. 2 East Stroudsburg on Sunday, September 9, at 1 p.m., followed by No. 7 Saint Anselm on the road in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, October 17, at 7 p.m., No. 3 LIU Post on Saturday, October 27, at 7 p.m., and then No. 9 Merrimack on Wednesday, October 31, in North Andover, Massachusetts, at 7 p.m.

Stonehill head coach Susan Ciufo, entering her fourth season at the helm, returns 16 letterwinners, including seven starters, from a 2017 squad that posted a 13-7 record overall, including 10-2 in NE10 play to finish second in the NE10 regular season standings behind Saint Anselm. The Skyhawks reached the semifinal round of the NE10 Tournament in their way to earning a fifth-straight NCAA Tournament bid (ninth in program history overall).

Antonellis earned first team All-America honors as a sophomore after a breakout season. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Senior All-American Kacie Smith (Norwood, Massachusetts/Norwood), the reigning Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II Player of the Year, headlines Stonehill's list of returnees, which also includes junior back Michaela Antonellis (Watertown, Massachusetts/Watertown), also a Longstreth/NFHCA first team All-America pick last season.

Smith, a two-time NFHCA East Region and NE10 Player of the Year, is coming off a historic junior season in which she set a new NCAA Division II record with her 41 goals, leading all three divisions of NCAA field hockey in goals and points, while leading Division II with her school-record 17 assists, finishing with an NE10 record 99 points. Antonellis enjoyed a breakout year for the Skyhawks in 2017, standing out on their penalty corner offensive and defensive units. She finished fourth on the team in scoring with 12 points, netting four goals and dishing out four assists, also contributing a team-high three defensive saves.

Senior Sara Freedman (Hopkinton, Massachusetts/Hopkinton) will backbone the Stonehill defense once again this fall. The three-year starter in the Skyhawks goal has started 56 of her 60 career games played, with over 4,000-minutes played, logging a 1.91 career goals against average and 14 shutouts. In addition to Antonellis, sophomore Elaine Bachelder (South Berwick, Maine/Marshwood), an NE10 and Synapse Sports Division II All-Rookie Team selection, will lead the defensive returnees for the Skyhawks.

Key returnees from the top offensive team in Division II last fall in support of Smith will be senior Carly Andersen (Cheshire, Connecticut/Canterbury School), junior Samantha Day (Hampstead, New Hampshire/Pinkerton Academy) and sophomore Taylor Ladue (Westminster, Massachusetts/Oakmont Regional). Andersen, an All-NE10 second team selection last year, finished second on the team with 29 points and 13 goals, dishing out three assists, while Ladue, an NE10 All-Rookie Team pick, totaled five goals and two assists in her first collegiate season. Day chipped in with four goals and an assist for nine points for the Skyhawks in her first season at the College.

Stonehill opens its 2018 season with four home games, starting with Saturday's noon matchup with No. 5 West Chester as part of Stonehill Kickoff Weekend at the College. The Skyhawks will host Assumption for its Purple & White Game on Tuesday, September 4, at 7 p.m., before No. 2 East Stroudsburg visits W.B. Mason Stadium on September 9 and then Saint Thomas Aquinas College visits on Saturday, September 15, at 1 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.