NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack men's soccer team earned a sixth-place spot on the 2012 Northeast-10 Men's Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll, the league announced Wednesday afternoon.
The Warriors, who return a majority of a team that finished 9-7-3 overall in 2011, ranked in the top half of a very competitive 14-team field with 113 total points in the poll.
Merrimack once again finds itself in a league represented by some of the top teams in the country, as the two teams tied for the top spot in the poll – reigning conference champion and national semifinalist Franklin Pierce and Southern New Hampshire – both earned spots in the first National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Coaches Poll of the season. The Ravens enter the season ranked third in the country, while the Penmen earned a No. 7 national ranking to start the year.
Both Franklin Pierce and Southern New Hampshire accumulated 161 points in the conference poll, with both squads drawing six first-place votes apiece to share the No. 1 spot in the rankings.
Following the top two teams was UMass-Lowell (141 points, two first-place votes), as the River Hawks were predicted to finish in third place ahead of fourth-ranked Le Moyne (126). Rounding out the top five was Southern Connecticut (122), who was slotted one place ahead of the sixth-ranked Warriors.
Rounding out the top 10 were Bentley (107 points), AIC (68), Stonehill (56) and New Haven (55), while Saint Anselm (54) and Saint Michael's (52) were predicted to finish in 11th and 12th place, respectively. Perhaps an early indicator to just how competitive the middle portion of the conference will be, the teams ranked ninth through 12th were separated by just four points.
Finally, Assumption (42 points) and Saint Rose (16) rounded out the 14-team field.
The 2012 season begins Thursday, Aug. 30, when the Warriors welcome Post in the first round of the Merrimack Invitational. First whistle is set for 7 p.m.