WINTHROP, Mass. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's soccer team was picked eighth in the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Preseason Coaches' Poll announced on Wednesday afternoon by the league's front office. The annual poll is voted upon by the conference's 13 head coaches. The Blue Jays open up the 2019 campaign at home versus Manhattanville on Friday, August 30 at 3:00 p.m.
After longtime GNAC powerhouse Lasell College had won every conference championship since 2010, Saint Joseph's College of Maine (SJC) captured its first-ever title last fall in women's soccer with a 1-0 victory on the road over the Lasers.
Despite losing 2018 GNAC Offensive Player of the Year Haley DaGraca, seventh-year head coach Jenelle Harris and her Monks program still received six of a possible 13 first-place votes for 159 points to lead the way in the 2019 GNAC Preseason Poll, as voted upon by the league's head coaches.
Lasell finished second in the poll with three first-place votes and 150 points, followed closely by Johnson & Wales University (JWU) with three first-place nods and 149 points. Emmanuel College was slotted fourth with the remaining first-place tally and 135 points.
In last year's GNAC Tournament, Lasell needed overtime to defeat Emmanuel in the semifinals, while JWU fell to SJC, 4-2.
Rounding out the top-five was Regis College with 113 points. The Pride were followed by Simmons University with 98 points, Colby-Sawyer College with 94 points, the Blue Jays with 69 points, Norwich University with 65 points, and Suffolk University with 61 points.
Making up the remainder of the poll were Albertus Magnus College (45), Rivier University (32), and Anna Maria College (13).
The top-eight teams in the league's regular-season standings will advance to the 2019 GNAC Tournament, which is set to begin with the quarterfinal round on Saturday, November 2, with the top-four seeds serving as hosts. The semifinals will be held on Tuesday, November 5 by the remaining two highest seeds, followed by the championship match on Saturday, November 9 hosted by the highest remaining seed.
The Blue Jays finished eighth in the regular-season standings at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign and earned their 19th consecutive berth to the GNAC postseason tournament before falling to top-seeded Lasell, 2-1, in double overtime in the quarterfinals.
Admission to all USJ women's regular-season soccer games in 2019 are free of charge.
2019 GNAC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
1. Saint Joseph's of Maine (6) - 159
2. Lasell (3) - 150
3. Johnson & Wales (3) - 149
4. Emmanuel (1) - 135
5. Regis - 113
6. Simmons - 98
7. Colby-Sawyer - 94
8. Saint Joseph (CT) - 69
9. Norwich - 65
10. Suffolk - 61
11. Albertus Magnus - 45
12. Rivier - 32
13. Anna Maria - 13
About the GNAC
The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors and administers 22 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunity and community involvement in an effort to enhance the student-athlete experience.