The Central Connecticut women’s soccer team, the three-time defending Northeast Conference champions, were picked as the league’s favorite in the Preseason Coaches Poll on Tuesday. The Blue Devils received nine first-place votes in the poll, while Fairleigh Dickinson and Saint Francis U each collected one vote.
The NEC played an abbreviated, conference-only schedule in the spring 2021 season. Central went a perfect 7-0 during the regular season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament to face South Florida. CCSU allowed just one goal against NEC opponents and had a clean sweep of the conference’s major postseason awards. Junior Roma McLaughlin, the NEC Midfielder of the Year, posted four goals and two assists during the campaign to earn United Soccer Coaches All-America honors for the second straight season. Classmate Amanda McQuillan was named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year after posting six shutouts and not allowing a goal in the regular season. Redshirt freshman Kelly Brady won the Rookie of the Year honors and led the Blue Devils in scoring with three assists and four goals. Head coach Mick D’Arcy, a seven-time NEC Coach of the Year, has led CCSU to 211 wins in his 21 seasons in New Britain. He has guided Central to nine conference championships, while also recording a pair of wins in the NCAA Tournament.
Fairleigh Dickinson was picked second and followed by Sacred Heart and Bryant to round out the top four. Saint Francis U was picked fifth and followed by Merrimack and LIU, the 2021 NEC runner-up. In its first year as an NEC associate member, Howard was slotted eighth in the 11-team field.
The 2021 NEC Tournament will take place the at the top seed during the weekend of November 5-7.