CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The University of New Hampshire field hockey team, which swept the 2011 America East Conference regular-season and tournament titles en route to an NCAA tourney appearance, was voted fourth in the 2012 America East Field Hockey Coaches' Preseason Poll that was released Friday morning.
UNH garnered a total of 14 points to place behind Boston University (23 points), University at Albany (22) and the University of Maine (16). Both BU and Albany received three first-place votes. Fairfield University (9) and the University of Vermont (6) complete the poll.
The Wildcats, selected third in last year's preseason poll but proved the prognosticators wrong, are guided by 22nd-year head coach Robin Balducci, who was feted as leader of the America East Coaching Staff of the Year in both 2010 and 2011.
UNH returns 13 letterwinners, including six starters, and welcomes nine freshmen to the program for the 2012 season. Senior midfielder Emma Erler (New Hampton, N.H.) has been named to the America East All-Academic Team each of the past two years in recognition of excellence in both athletics and academics. Junior back Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) joined Erler on that squad in 2011 and also received Second Team recognition from America East and the NFHCA Northeast Region.
The top team in the 2012 conference standings will be host of the America East Field Hockey Championship tournament Nov. 2 & 4. The league's top four teams will compete for the tourney title with an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship at stake. The conference earned an automatic bid to the national tournament by finishing with the third highest RPI last year.
New Hampshire opens the 2012 season Aug. 24 at home against the University of Massachusetts and the 'Cats then play host to The Ohio State University on Aug. 26. Both games at Memorial Field begin at 2 p.m.