CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The University of New Hampshire field hockey team, which went undefeated in league play to win the 2010 America East regular-season title, was picked to finish in a tie for third place in the 2011 America East Field Hockey Coaches' Preseason Poll that was released Tuesday.
UNH received one first-place vote and a total of 16 points to tie with the University of Maine in the preseason poll. Boston University topped the poll with three first-place votes as part of 23 points and was followed by the University at Albany, which won the 2010 America East tournament, at 21 points (two first-place votes). Fairfield University and the University of Vermont completed the poll with seven points apiece.
The Wildcats, led by 21st-year head coach – and 2010 America East Coach of the Year – Robin Balducci, return 10 starters from a team that went 14-7 and entered the national polls for the first time in a decade. The 'Cats will be led by All-America Second Team selection Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.) and Kyle Lyons (White River Junction, Vt.), who joined Frates on the America East All-Conference First Team. Also returning are top point producer Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) and Kendall Deck (Bridgewater, N.J.), both of whom were All-Conference Second Team honorees a year ago.
The top-finishing team in the 2011 standings will be host of the America East Field Hockey Championship tournament Nov. 4 & 6. 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 fourth-highest RPI last year (behind the ACC, Big Ten and Big East).
New Hampshire opens the 2011 season Aug. 27 (2 p.m.) at Ohio State University. The Wildcats' home opener is Sept. 2 (3 p.m.) at Memorial Field against Brown University.