West Babylon, N.Y. - The University of Bridgeport, the defending NCAA Division II Women's Soccer National Champion, have been selected as the East Coast Conference's preseason favorite in a vote by the league's coaches. Bridgeport standouts, Maegen Doyle (Harwich, England) and Annie Bjork (Malmo, Sweden), were also selected as the ECC Preseason Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively.
In addition to attempting to defend the program's first-ever National Championship. Bridgeport will also seek a repeat as ECC Champions. With six starters, as well as two key substitutes/part-time starters back from their 2018 squad, the league's coaches feel the Purple Knights have a good shot to repeat as they received eight out of nine first-place votes to top the poll. Bridgeport, who starts the year ranked No. 2 in the United Soccer Coaches (USC) Division II Top 25 poll, have also won three of the last four and four of the last six ECC titles.
Among the key returnees for the Purple Knights are Doyle and Bjork. Doyle had one of the best offensive seasons in conference history a year ago. She tied an ECC single-season record with 28 goals, 13 of which were game-winning goals. Those totals put her among Division II's leaders. She led the nation in game-winners, ranked second in goals, and finished third with 59 points. After putting up such gaudy statistics while leading the Purple Knights to a National Championship, Doyle was named the USC Division II National Player of the Year and a consensus First Team All-American. Doyle claimed the ECC Offensive Player of the Year and Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) East Region Player of the Year honors, as well.
Bjork was chosen as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year after a standout rookie season. In 25 games, all starts, she was a key cog in a backline that allowed only 24 goals, a 0.95 goals against average, and shutout 12 opponents on the season. For her effort, Bjork earned a spot on the ECC All-Conference First Team.
Mercy earned the final first-place vote to finish as the runner-up in the poll with 73 points. The Mavericks earned an NCAA Championship berth last season and look to win their second ECC title in three seasons.
Daemen and New York Tech round out the projected playoff teams. Daemen, who made their first-ever ECC Championship appearance last season, narrowly outpaced New York Tech by one point for the third spot. New York Tech looks to earn their first-ever postseason berth after falling one point short of the fourth and final tournament spot in each of the last two seasons.
2019 ECC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
|1. Bridgeport (8)||79||20-4-1 (8-1-0 ECC)|
|2. Mercy (1)||73||12-3-2 (7-1-1 ECC)|
|3. Daemen||54||8-8-1 (5-4-0 ECC)|
|4. New York Tech||53||10-5-2 (4-3-2 ECC)|
|5. Molloy||40||6-9-2 (3-5-1 ECC)|
|6. Roberts Wesleyan||37||5-9-2 (3-6-0 ECC)|
|7. St. Thomas Aquinas||35||9-6-1 (3-5-1 ECC)|
|8. Queens||24||3-9-4 (1-5-3 ECC)|
|9. Lincoln (Pa.)||10||0-16-0 (0-9-0 ECC)|
( ) - first place votes