BOSTON -- The University of New Hampshire women’s lacrosse team, which finished as runner-up in the 2006 America East Championship tournament, received four first-place votes and a total of 46 points to earn the status of preseason No. 1 in the America East Women’s Lacrosse Preseason Coaches’ Poll that was released Friday.

         UNH edged out defending champion Boston University, which received the other three first-place votes and a total of 43 points. UMBC, the 2006 regular-season champions, placed third in the poll with 37 points and was followed by Stony Brook (25 points), Albany (21), Vermont (15) and Binghamton (9).

         Led by 11th-year head coach Sandy Bridgeman, the Wildcats return 15 letterwinners, including 10 starters, from a 2006 team that advanced to the America East championship game for the fifth consecutive year and finished the season at 11-7 overall.

         The 2007 UNH squad will be led by senior captains Christine Carbone (Nashua, N.H.) and Alexa Webster (Aurora, Colo.). Carbone, one of five Granite State natives on the roster, is a two-time America East All-Conference First Team selection at defense. Webster is the third-leading returning Wildcat scorer with numbers that included 33 goals and 44 points in 2006.

         The top four teams in the conference will advance to the America East Championship to be held May 4 and 6 at the No. 1 seed. The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship.

         New Hampshire opens the 2007 season Feb. 27 at Holy Cross.

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