SPRINGFIELD, Mass.- The Gulls of Endicott College have been picked to finish fourth in the CCC coaches preseason poll for the 2013 season. With a 6-2 CCC record in 2012, the Gulls are looking to improve on a semifinal appearance and get back to the title game for what would be the eighth time in ten years.
The coaches voted defending campion Roger Williams as the preseason favorite as the team captured all nine first place votes for a total of 81 points. After the Hawks, seeds two through four were separated by one point each as Western New England was chosen second with 63 points, Salve Regina third with 62 and Endicott in fourth with 61. The University of New England rounds out the top five with 47 points.
2013 sees head coach Tim Byram enter his 14th year at the helm. While the last decade has been an overwhelming success for the Blue and Green, they head into this season with a fire inside that will look to fuel them due to last season's struggles. The last time Endicott had a sub-.500 record was 2003-04 in which they went 14-18. The season after that, the Gulls went 29-7 and won their first of four titles in a five year stretch. The team won 23+ matches in all of those five seasons and Coach Byram is hoping that 2013 is the start of another special run. "I know the team and I are looking forward to getting going this weekend," stated Byram. "Everyone has worked extremely hard in the off-season and the results have been visible both on and off the court already. We are really focusing on getting a little better every day and being great teammates."
With the core of this current roster being so young, the future is extremely bright for the Gulls. The roster consists of one lone senior, two juniors, four sophomores and six freshmen. Endicott returns three 2012 All-CCC members in senior captain Callie Dolan (Second Team OH), sophomore Mackenzie Guerre (CCC Rookie of the Year, First Team MB) and sophomore Alleigh VandeMerkt (Honorable Mention S) as well as sophomore Lexi Watts (starting OPP) and juniors Sierra Kenkel and Jessica Petrucci.
This group is complemented by a talented freshmen class that consists of OH/DS Lilly Benabou (Medway, Mass. / Medway), MB/OPP Jayla Brennen (Litchfield, N.H. / Campbell), MB Hayley Knapp (Valencia, Calif. / Valencia), Tori McIntyre (San Diego, Calif. / Rancho Bernardo), MB Kelli Sugrue (Tewksbury, Mass. / Tewksbury) and DS Erika Trudon (Coventry, Conn. / Coventry).
Both upperclassmen and newcomers will look to team together to improve upon last year's 12-20 overall record that saw the Gulls go 6-2 in conference play. With that 6-2 conference record, the Gulls locked up the #2 seed (by way of a tie breaker) and eventually were upset by Salve Regina in the semifinals. The 12-20 record is a bit deceiving considering the team faced the preseason nationally ranked #2 Christopher Newport as well as Southwestern (TX), U. of Chicago, Elmhurst and UMass Boston, all who were ranked in the national preseason poll. Half of Endicott's schedule wound up being against regionally ranked opponents as well so Byram is counting on that level of competition to provide guidance and lessons for this year's returning members. "I don't think a team can reach its potential without finding what it's strengths and weaknesses are and improving on both," he said when asked about the schedule. "Our schedule has never been about the number of wins we will have at the end of the season but about how prepared we are for the playoffs. The great thing about this group is that we have committed teammates coming in every day striving to improve."
2013 sees the difficult schedule continue as the Gulls host Keene State, Wellesley, Plymouth State, Williams, Eastern, Bowdoin and Trinity to start off the season. Following the MIT invitational, Endicott stays on the road as they travel to cross-town foe Gordon for their first CCC matchup before traveling to Amherst for a tri-match with Bates and Amherst. A CCC match at UNE in late September sees the team travel to New York City to take on Baruch, Ramapo and Richard Stockton in to wrap up the first month of play. October is heavy in conference play as the squad hosts defending CCC champs Roger WIlliams on Homecoming Weekend as well as a trip to Salve Regina for a rematch of last year's CCC semifinal. The UMass Boston Invitational in mid-October breaks up a stretch of CCC play before the Gulls square off against Brandeis and Connecticut College to finish off regular season play. The Gulls know that this grueling schedule will have them battle tested and primed for a long post season run.
|Team||Points (1st Place Votes)|
|1. Roger Williams||81 (9)|
|2. Western New England||63|
|3. Salve Regina||62|
|5. University of New England||47|
|8. Eastern Nazarene||21|