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Courtesy: JMUSports.com
Field Hockey Picked to Finish Fourth in CAA Preseason Poll
Courtesy:JMUSports.com Release:08/17/2012
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From CAA Reports 

RICHMOND, Va., August 17, 2012 – After reaching the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals in 2011, the James Madison field hockey team was picked to finish fourth in 2012 in the CAA in a vote of the league’s head coaches. 

JMU finished with 28 points and trailed 2011 champion and national semifinalist Old Dominion which was finished atop the poll with 48 points and six first-place votes. Northeastern, which reached the NCAA tournament last year and Drexel were tied for second with 40 points each. Following the Dukes in the poll was Delaware in fifth (27 points), Hofrstra in sixth (20 points), William & Mary in seventh (14 points) and Towson rounding out the final spot in eighth (7 points). 

Madison returns eight starters and 15 letterwinners from last year’s squad that went 9-10 overall and 4-4 in conference play. Leading the way is senior midfielder Jenna Taylor (Midlothian, Va./James River) a First Team All-CAA selection a year ago. She finished third on the team in scoring with three goals and four assists for 10 points. Also back in redshirt freshman forward Taylor West (Princess Anne, Va./Pocomoke) who led the team in scoring with six goals and 13 points despite playing in just three games. She was a CAA All-Rookie team selection a year ago. 

Other key contributors returning for JMU include senior midfielder Auburn Weisensale (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield), junior back Amy Goldstein (Lititz, Pa./Warwick), redshirt junior forward Rachel Wein (Perryville, Md./Perryville) and sophomores Rachel Palumbo (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley), Dana Allaband (Elkton, Md./Rising Sun) and Taylor Bailey (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford). 

ODU looks to build off a stellar 22-3 campaign which included a #1 national ranking during the regular season and a trip to the semifinals of the NCAA Field Hockey Championship. The Lady Monarchs return four players who earned postseason honors in 2011. CAA Rookie of the Year Kelsey Smither is back for her sophomore campaign after scoring four goals and tallying 13 assists last season. Also returning are senior Maartje van Rijswijk and junior Kati Nearhouse, who both earned All-CAA second team honors last season. van Rijswijk ranked second on the team with nine goals while recording 10 assists in 2011. This will be the final season for ODU coach Beth Anders, who leads all NCAA coaches with 529 wins and nine national championships. 

Northeastern returns four starters from last year’s squad that finished 14-8 and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. Senior Crystal Poland, a first-team All-America honoree, will lead the front line for the Huskies after scoring 27 goals last season. Anchoring the defense will be senior goalkeeper Lizzie Priest, who was named first team All-CAA in 2011 after collecting a league-leading 148 saves and compiling a 1.96 goals against average.  

Drexel looks to make a big leap in 2012 after finishing 3-5 in CAA play last year. Leading the Dragons will be senior midfielder Amanda Fleischut, who was named to the All-CAA first team in 2011 after leading the team with nine goals and 21 points. Drexel also returns sophomores Christina Conrad and Meghan Plank who were named to the CAA All-Rookie team last season. Conrad ranked third on the team with six goals and 16 points. 

Madison continues its preparations for the 2012 campaign on Saturday as it hosts Penn State at the JMU Field Hockey Complex for a scrimmage before opening the season next weekend with a neutral site game in Kent, Ohio against Vermont on Friday, August 24. 

2012 CAA Field Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Old Dominion (48 points, 6 first-place votes)
2. Northeastern (40 points, 2 first-place votes)
3. Drexel (40 points)
4. James Madison (28 points)
5. Delaware (27 points)
6. Hofstra (20 points)
7. William & Mary (14 points)
8. Towson (7 points)

(Teams received seven points for a first-place vote, six for a second, etc. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team.) 

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