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Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Sacred Heart

We’re breaking down each and every NCAA D1 team one by one to get prepped for the rapidly approaching season. Welcome back to the Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Previews! We move another spot down the list and the Sacred Heart Pioneers, located in Fairfield, CT, are up for Preview!

In 2012, Sacred Heart went 4-9, but a bright spot for the Pioneers was a 13-12 win over #11 Yale. Their other three wins came over Manhattan, Hartford, and Quinnipiac. In their 9 losses, Sacred Heart was competitive, keeping 7 of the games within 3 goals, and five of them within 2 goals. Still, losses to Wagner, Mount St. Mary’s, Vermont, Dartmouth, and Marist were rough, and doomed SHU to a losing year.

2013 sees the Pioneers play a similar slate of games, adding games with Holy Cross, Stony Brook, and Providence, while still playing their NEC schedule. SHU has a number of games against America East teams, and face three straight at one point in their season.

Sacred Heart’s top three scorers in 2012 were all sophomores, and Cody Marquis, Mike Mawdsley, and Matt Gannon all return as Juniors on attack. They bring back 91 points between the three of them. The midfield was led by seniors in 2012, and Shane Foley, Matt King, and Alex Miller will need to step up production.

Defensively, SHU returns Ryan Hughes in net, and the Junior started 10 games in 2012, playing in 12. The longsticks around Hughes are experienced, and many return from 2012. Andrew Newbold, Jared Carrier, and Pat Fletcher all return as upperclassmen after playing a ton in 2012. Considering how many tight games the Pioneers were in last year, their D is tested, and should be ready to improve again as the players in the system mature. With Steven Kontos returning for face off work as a Senior, SHU should be very solid on defensive possessions and transition.

Sacred Heart’s biggest obstacle to improvement in 2012 could actually be the new rules. They were building up a roster of talented offensive players, and now need guys who can go both ways. If they can convert a couple midfielders to “do it all” types, which I believe they can, then they can see some success. Their defense should be solid, and will keep them in games. Their attack is strong. If the midfield can answer, SHU could be just fine. It probably comes down to that one issue though.

Click HERE to see Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview posts for Air Force, Albany, Army, Bellarmine, Binghamton, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Canisius, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Denver, Detroit, Drexel, Duke, Fairfield, Hartford, Harvard, High Point, Hobart, Hofstra, Holy Cross, Jacksonville, Johns Hopkins, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola, Manhattan, Marist, Marquette, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mercer, Michigan, Mount St. Mary’s, Navy, UNC, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UPenn, Penn State, Princeton, Providence, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, and Rutgers!