SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University women's lacrosse team finished 2017 atop the Northeast Conference and will start 2018 in the same position, as the Bulldogs were picked as unanimous preseason favorites in the league's annual preseason poll.
The Bulldogs received all seven possible first-place votes from the league's coaches as Jill Batcheller's team looks for their fourth conference championship in the last five seasons. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Wagner, Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary's round out the Top 4 that would qualify for the conference tournament held May 3 and 5 at the site of the regular season champion. The remaining four teams are Sacred Heart, Central Connecticut, Saint Francis U and LIU Brooklyn.
Bryant returns their top three scorers from last season, with the reigning NEC Offensive Player of the Year in junior Jess DeMeo (Mount Sinai, N.Y.), sophomore Caitlin Breglia (Long Beach, N.Y.) and senior Catlin Brown (San Diego, Calif.) all coming back from the 2017 championship team.
The Bulldogs also bring back junior Lauren Britton (Monmouth Beach, N.J.), who caused 10 turnovers last season, the most of any returning player, as well as two senior defenders in Madison McNally (East Northport, N.Y.) and Amanda Moss (Lebanon, N.J.).
Senior Samantha Santeramo (Wantagh, N.Y.), the 2017 NEC Tournament MVP, returns to lead the Bulldogs in the cage after recording an 8.91 goals-against average last season, good for 10th in the country.
Bryant opens their season at home on February 24, taking on the first of two NCAA tournament teams on their schedule when they play host to Albany at 1:00 p.m.