[ATLANTIC-10 PREVIEW]One of the most competitive conferences in 2012 will be the Atlantic-10. You might have not heard of the A-10 but it actually consists of 16 teams with the addition of Butler and VCU. Dayton, winner of three straight conference titles, will get a strong challenge from LaSalle, the 2011 regular-season champion, Richmond, led by U.S. U-20 forward Becca Wann, and VCU, which jumped from the CAA.
Dayton, first in preseason voting conducted by the league's 16 head coaches, returns eight starters, including two all-conference selections, Colleen Williams and Alexis Garcia.
La Salle, which began the 2011 season with six shutout wins in its first six games and 14 wins in a row, went undefeated in conference play (7-0-2) but was eliminated in the championship semifinals by Massachusetts. The Explorers' top returning players include Rookie of the Year Kelsey Haycook and first-team All-Conference selections Renee Washington and Jess Hopton.
Wann, who will miss the start of the season to play at the Under-20 Women's World Cup, was the 2011 A-10 Offensive Player of the Year, leading the Spiders to their best season since 2002 with goals (15). She also plays basketball (9 points per game as a sophomore) at UR.
VCU, which took a 10-match unbeaten streak into the 2011 CAA title game, returns several key players from last year's squad, including 2011 CAA Rookie of the Year Cristin Granados and All-CAA goalkeeper Kristin Carden returns to the net.
ATLANTIC-10 IN BRIEF:
2011 REGULAR SEASON. 1. La Salle (7-0-2), 2. Richmond (7-1-1), 3. Dayton (7-2-0), 4. Massachusetts (6-2-1).
2011 TOURNAMENT. Dayton beat Massachusetts, 5-1.
2011 NCAA TOURNAMENT. Dayton and LaSalle lost in first round.
2012 CONTENDERS. LaSalle, Richmond, VCU.
2012 NEW MEMBERS.Butler, VCU.
2012 CREAM OF THE CROP.F Becca Wann, Richmond, jr.; M Renee Washington, La Salle, jr.; F Kelsey Haycook, La Salle, soph.; F Colleen Williams, Dayton, sr.; G Kristin Carden, VCU, sr.
2012 TOP NEWCOMERS.D/M Mikayla Williams, Massachusetts; M Kristi Abbate, George Washington; M Maddison Kiebel, Charlotte; D Rebekka Sverrisdottir, Massachusetts; F Ellie Bailes, Rhode Island.
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