BOSTON - The University of New Hampshire men's soccer team was picked to finish fourth out of nine schools in America East in the preseason coaches' poll released Monday. Boston University was picked as the preseason favorite by the coaches, garnering seven of nine first-place votes.

New Hampshire's fourth place selection is the highest since 1995, when the 'Cats were also selected fourth after advancing to the NCAA tournament one year earlier. The 1995 season was the first for current UNH head coach Rob Thompson.

UNH returns 18 players, including six of the top seven scorers, from a squad that finished sixth out of 12 teams last season and advanced to the America East tournament for the first time since the 1994 season. Among the returnees are senior co-captains Doug Lawver (Doylestown, Pa.) and Christian Pauckstadt (Wuppertal, Germany), leading scorer Josh Hareld (N. Kingstown, R.I.) and third team All-New England defender Brendan Hankard (Glastonbury, Conn.).

UNH opens up with the 13th annual Nike Fall Soccer Classic on August 30 and September 1, when it hosts Lafayette and Adelphi. The America East slate kicks off September 29 when the 'Cats travel to Binghamton and ends November 3 as New Hampshire is entertained by Stony Brook. The four-team 2002 America East Men's Soccer Championship kicks off November 9.

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