NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – With the 2012 season less than two weeks away, the Merrimack field hockey team earned its first preseason recognition by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA), as the Warriors earned a No. 5 preseason ranking in the first official coaches poll of the season, the organization announced Tuesday.
Merrimack earned its fifth-place slot with 52 total points, edging sixth-place LIU Post for the right to rank among the top five in the country.
Fellow Northeast-10 Conference rival UMass-Lowell ranked third in the poll with 92 points and two first-place votes, while the Warriors' first opponent of the season – defending national champion West Chester – was the national preseason favorite with 114 points and eight first-place votes.
In total, four opponents on Merrimack's 2012 schedule were included in the 10-team poll, including East Stroudsburg (ninth – 31 points), whom it will face off against in the second game of the season, as well as fellow conference rival Bentley (10th – 19 points).
The fifth-ranked Warriors take on No. 1 West Chester on the road on Saturday, Sept. 1, with first whistle set for 1 p.m.