CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The University of New Hampshire field hockey team received three of a possible five first-place votes and 23 points overall to garner the top spot in the 2009 America East Preseason Poll that was released Thursday.
UNH, which finished as runner-up in both the league regular-season standings and tournament last season, edged out Boston University (20 points; one first-place vote) and Albany (18; two) as the preseason favorite. Maine (15) Vermont (9) and Fairfield (5) complete the poll in positions four through six.
The Wildcats return 11 letterwinners, including seven starters, from the 2008 team that finished 9-11 overall and 3-2 in America East. Senior forward Meg Shea (Melrose, Mass.) and senior back Cally Cooke (Newburyport, Mass.) were selected to the 2008 America East All-Conference First Team and Second Team, respectively. Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.) also received Second Team recognition and was joined on the All-Rookie Team by Kate Collins Smyth (Parteen, County Claire/Ireland) and Kendall Deck (Bridgewater, N.J.).
UNH's 2009 roster boasts four Granite Staters: senior Kiera Williams (Dover) as well as freshmen Shayna Duffy (Dover), Emma Erler (New Hampton) and Mary Quill (Portsmouth).
The 2009 America East Field Hockey Championship will be played at the top seed's turf field on November 6 & 8. The top four teams in the regular standings will be competing at the tourney for the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.
New Hampshire, under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Robin Balducci, opens the 2009 season Aug. 30 at home against Syracuse University. Game time at Memorial Field is 1 p.m.