NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Now nearly a week into the 2012 season, the Merrimack women's soccer team earned an enormous sign of respect from the other members of a challenging Northeast-10 Conference by virtue of its No. 2 ranking in the Coaches Preseason Poll, the conference announced Tuesday.
The Warriors, who will be bidding for their unprecedented 29th-consecutive winning season in 2012, were slotted to finish only behind reigning NCAA and NE-10 champion Saint Rose. Merrimack's 201 points were enough for the runner-up spot in the poll behind the Golden Knights (224 points – 14 first-place votes).
Rounding out the top four were both UMass-Lowell (192 points) and Southern Connecticut (173 – one first-place vote), who were picked to finish in third and fourth place, respectively. From fifth through eighth place in the 16-team field were Franklin Pierce (164), Southern New Hampshire (158, one first-place vote), Stonehill (129) and Adelphi (128) to round out the top half of the rankings.
Moving into the bottom half of the poll, AIC was slotted in ninth, finishing just one point behind the eighth-place spot. Predicted to finish 10th was New Haven (98 points) ahead of the No. 11 spot in the standings occupied by Pace (87). Finally, Saint Anselm (63) was tabbed to finish 12th according to the coaches.
Rounding out the 16-team field were Saint Michael's (60 points); Bentley (53); Le Moyne (38) and Assumption (27).
In 2011, Merrimack recorded a 16-4-2 record, 11-2-1 in the Northeast-10, finishing second overall in the conference and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.
The Warriors will open the year with two bouts in Long Island as participants in the Dowling College Tournament before traveling to Queens (N.Y.) for a third non-conference showdown on Sept. 5.
Merrimack will welcome conference foe Southern Connecticut State on Sunday, Sept. 9, for its home opener, with first whistle set for 1 p.m.
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