NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Fresh off its winningest season in school history that included both its first-ever Northeast-10 Conference regular season title and a trip to the NCAA Final Four, the Merrimack field hockey team was picked to finish second in the NE-10, as the conference unveiled the 2012 Coaches Preseason Poll Thursday morning.
The Warriors (93 points, four first-place votes) were slotted to finish only behind the reigning conference tournament champion and national runners-up UMass-Lowell (97 points, seven first-place votes). Last season, Merrimack downed the River Hawks, 2-1, at home on Oct. 18 before UMass-Lowell handed the Warriors slim defeats in both the NE-10 championship game and the national semifinals in a span of back-to-back contests.
One point separated the third- and fourth-place teams, as Bentley (74) edged Stonehill (73) by the slimmest of margins to round out the top four in the rankings.
Predicted to finish in fifth place was AIC (55 points), just ahead of sixth-place Adelphi (51) while Franklin Pierce (47) sat in seventh.
Both Saint Anselm and Saint Michael's were tied for eighth in the rankings with 35 points apiece, while Southern Connecticut (32) and Assumption (13) rounded out the 11-team poll.
The fifth-ranked Warriors open the 2012 campaign on the road on Saturday, Sept. 1, taking on reigning national champion West Chester at 1 p.m.
2012 Northeast-10 Conference Field Hockey Coaches Poll
1. UMass Lowell – 97 (7)
2. Merrimack – 93 (4)
3. Bentley – 74
4. Stonehill – 73
5. American International – 55
6. Adelphi – 51
7. Franklin Pierce – 47
T8. Saint Anselm – 35
T8. Saint Michael's – 35
10. Southern Connecticut – 32
11. Assumption – 13
( ) - first-place votes in parentheses