|Becca Russo||Erin Toburen|
The 25th-ranked University of Scranton women's soccer begins their 2019 season on Saturday afternoon, and the Royals will start the campaign in a familiar spot - on top of the Landmark Conference - as Scranton was voted first by the coaches of the Landmark in the conference's preseason poll that was released on Wednesday afternoon.
In the poll, Scranton received 68 total points and six first-place votes to ascend to the top spot. Susquehanna - the squad that knocked the Royals off in the 2018 Landmark Conference Championship Match on penalty kicks - was slotted second in the poll with 60 total points and two first-place votes.
Catholic (42 total point) and Moravian (34 total points) rounded out the top four in the preseason rankings. For the full release from the Landmark Conference on the poll, click here.
Scranton will enter the 2019 season looking to build off a banner 2018 campaign that saw the squad win 16 games, go undefeated and untied in the Landmark Conference regular season (7-0) and advance to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Royals also finished the year ranked in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 for the first time since 2003 and open the 2019 season ranked in the same poll (25th) for the first time since 2004.
This season, the Royals will look to replace a stellar senior class that led the program to two Landmark Conference titles (2016, 2017), three straight bids to the NCAA Tournament and 48 victories.
Leading the way will be senior captain Rebecca Russo (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor) who will once again anchor the backline for the Royals. In 2018, Russo went on to earn USC Second Team All-American accolades after pacing a defense that allowed just 10 goals in 21 games and recorded 12 team shutouts. Russo, who was also the Landmark Conference's Defensive Player of the Year, has also been an All-Landmark Conference First Team selection in each of the last two seasons.
Elsewhere, leading the Scranton offense will be junior Erin Toburen (Harleysville, Pa./Lansdale Catholic), who is the squad's returning goal scorer, as she found the back of the net six times throughout the 2018 season to earn both USC All-Region and All-Landmark Conference honors at the end of the year.
Scranton will open the 2019 season on Saturday, as they take on Montclair State in a match played at Haverford College. The Royals will open their 2019 home slate at Weiss Field on Sept. 7 against Vassar, as Scranton will host seven opponents at home throughout the course of the year.
The Royals will also play three teams ranked in the USC Preseason Top 25 throughout the course of the season - Misericordia (6th, Oct. 30), Farmingdale State (21st, Sept. 14) and Stevens (24th, Sept. 21) - with both Misericordia and Stevens coming to Scranton for non-conference matches.
In Landmark Conference play, Scranton will play Catholic (Sept. 28), Moravian (Oct. 12), and Susquehanna in a Landmark title game rematch (Oct. 26) home at Weiss Field, while the Royals will travel to Goucher (Oct. 5), Drew (Oct. 16), Elizabethtown (Oct. 19) and Juniata (Nov. 2).
The Landmark Conference Championship is set to start on Nov. 6 with semifinal action, followed by the Landmark Championship match on Nov. 9.
For the full 2019 University of Scranton women's soccer schedule, click here.
To follow the Scranton women's soccer program all year long, be sure to follow the Royals on both Instagram and Twitter @ScrantonSoccer.