Returning all but two key players from the most successful team in program history, Eastern's 2011 women's soccer team has been rated 14th nationally in the NSCAA Division III pre-season national rankings. Under head coach Chris D'Ambrosio, Eastern ended with a 16-1-5 record, won its first regional championship and captured its second outright LEC regular-season title.
The Warriors were ranked No. 1 in New England for four straight weeks in 2010 -- their first-ever top regional ranking -- and as high as No. 8 nationally. They also remained undefeated through two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
The two key losses from a year ago were the club's top defensive and offensive players respectively --two-time LEC Defensive Player-of-the-Year and second-team All-America defender Lauren Hickey, and first-team all-conference forward and third-team all-region pick Taylor Buchanan (Ellington). Hickey graduated and Buchanan will miss the 2011 season after sustaining an ACL injury this summer.
Eastern is one of only three New England teams ranked among the pre-season Top 25. Williams is sixth and Wheaton 22nd.
Eastern opens its 2011 home season hosting the Warrior Classic Sept. 2-3 and visit Rhode Island College in their conference opener Sept. 17.