New England’s women’s DI college season will kick off tomorrow, and the lineup of participating teams has been made over. With the creation of the Ivy League, DI has seen the exodus of Brown, Yale, Dartmouth and perhaps Radcliffe (DII champions that might have promoted itself into DI this year). In their place, former DII teams Boston University, Boston College and Northeastern have bumped up to DI.
They join UMass, UConn and the indisputable league favorite, DI national champion Army. Seven of last year’s starters return to West Point's roster, but there are some holes that need to be filled.
“We’re seeing that in training,” Army coach Will Riddle said of players stepping up, “but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’re excited about several of our new players - Betsy McCracken, a former age grade Eagle, came in this summer as a freshman, and she looks to be able to contribute from the very start.”
McCracken is working in at lock right now, and she joins 12 other new players on the roster this semester. Riddle is confident however that several of the new players have the potential to contribute in a big way early on.
With some of Army’s biggest competition now playing in other leagues, one would assume that Army will have an easier run to the regional title.
“The new NERFU DI is a wait-and-see situation,” Riddle said. “We've got some rebuilding to do, so we're not going to make any assumptions. However, we are supplementing our fall schedule with a few matches that will be important to our development.”
Army will host Penn State on October 1, Canadian collegiate champ St. Francis Xavier on October 7 and Navy on October 22 tentatively.
“They are sure to give us all we handle and maybe more,” Riddle said. His team takes on UMass in their league opener.
Of all the teams promoted into DI, Boston University is most likely to give Army the best competition. BU finished atop its conference undefeated, and will test its DI mettle against UConn tomorrow.
Boston College and Northeastern finished in the middle of their DII conferences last year, but BC’s Lily White is confident in her team’s progress.
“We have a strong crop of returning players and are coming off a good spring season, where we won the Beast of the East tournament in April for Division II,” White said. “We also have been able to recruit a lot of rookies, so we have a good amount of promising, young talent. We are very excited to be moving back up to DI and feel like we have something to prove coming from DII.”
White and teammates are pretty familiar with Northeastern and BU, so those matches promise to be exciting.
NERFU DI – Saturday, September 24
Army v UMass
Boston College v Northeastern
Boston University v UConn
Stay tuned for player and feedback on Saturday's games.