FAIRFIELD, CT – The UMASS Minutemen were the unanimous choice for the top spot in the first NEILA Coaches Poll of the 2013 season. The Yale Bulldogs received the only other first place vote, putting them in the second slot. UMASS and Yale finished 1, 2 in last year’s final NEILA poll and both reached the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
UMASS, who completed an undefeated regular season last year returns star player Will Manny, who led UMass with 77 points on 44 goals and 33 assists a year ago. He was the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year and a USILA First Team All-American in 2012. Yale returns 19 players from their Ivy League Championship team a year ago, including face-off specialist Dylan Levings. Levings ranked fourth in all of Divsion I with a .632 face-off percentage.
Fairfield, Bryant and Harvard round out the preseason top five. Fairfield returns their leading goal scorer from a year ago; Sam Snow scored a team-high 35 goals for the Stags
who went 12-4 last season. The Stags were defeated by Loyola in the ECAC Championship game. Bryant comes into 2013 after posting a 14-4 record last season and winning the Northeast Conference. Bryant returns two-year captain and top assist guy Peter McMahon, who led the Bulldogs with 25 assists and ranked second on the team with 23 goals. Harvard, a 6-8 team from a year ago, returns 7 starters from 2012. Junior attack Daniel Eipp leads the way for the Crimsons, Eipp tallied 42 points last season, good for second on the team.
Brown grabs the sixth spot after finishing a game under .500 last season at 7-8. The Bears return their leading scorer, Sam Hurster, who notched a team-high 31 goals.
The Hartford Hawks land at the #7 position, returning 26 players from last season. The Hawks went 6-9 in the 2012 campaign and fell just a goal short of reaching the America East Championship, falling to Stony Brook 9-8 in the semi-finals of the conference tournament.
Dartmouth rounds out the poll in the 8th spot, coming off a 5-9 record in 2012. Senior Pat Flynn returns on the backline for the Big Green, having caused a team leading 16 turnovers last season.
Preseason Coaches Poll