Fairfield, Conn.—The Sacred Heart women's basketball team tied with Monmouth University for fourth place in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll. The results of the poll were announced Thursday morning via conference call. The two-time defending NEC Champion Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash were voted to finish first again this year.
This was the first time that five teams received first place votes in the poll. Robert Morris, Long Island, Monmouth and Sacred Heart all received two first place nods, while Saint Francis (PA) received four to bump them to the top spot.
Last year, the Pioneers were picked to finish third in the coaches' poll, a prediction that came true. Since entering the NEC in 1999-2000, the Sacred Heart women's basketball team has never finished lower than a tie for third place.
"There is still a lot of work to be done to be a contender come March, but we have all the right parts," says Head Coach Ed Swanson. "I'm excited about where we're starting this year."
Swanson is looking to continue the success he has had over the last 22 years at Sacred Heart.
"You have to be consistent and know what you want in players," Swanson says is one of his tricks to being such a successful team year after year. "[It's] all about the players; putting the puzzle together the right way."
The NEC All-Conference Team was also announced Thursday morning. Sacred Heart's senior forward Callan Taylor (Overland Park, Kan.) was on the squad. Taylor, last year's leading scorer, is joined by Fairleigh Dickinson's Mariah Laury (senior, guard), Long Island's Ashley Palmer (senior, forward), Monmouth's Alysha Womack (junior, guard) and Robert Morris's Artemis Spanou (sophomore, forward).
Last year, Taylor finished the year with 166 field goals, shooting a 46%. She posted 46 three-pointers and made 84 out of 95 free throws to lead the team with an 88.4 free throw percentage. Taylor grabbed 292 rebounds during the season (97 offensive and 195 defensive).
"[Callan] is the epitomy of what we're looking for in a player, person and student," says Swanson.
The Pioneers open the 2011-2012 season in Siena on Friday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m.