BOSTON, Mass. - The University of New Hampshire women's soccer team was selected eighth in the 2001 America East Preseason Coaches' Poll, which was released Monday afternoon.
Boston University, which won its first conference title last year, received eight of a possible 11 first-place votes (coaches were not allowed to vote for his/her own team) and garnered 118 points to edge out the University of Hartford (four first-place votes, 114 points) as the preseason favorite.
The top two teams are followed by Hofstra (97), Delaware (87), Towson (80) and Northeastern (62). Maine, with 58 points, narrowly topped UNH (57) for seventh place. The bottom four teams are Vermont (44), Stony Brook (41), Drexel (23) and Albany (11). New Hampshire, which finished seventh last season with a 2-6-1 conference record (5-12-1 overall), is looking to return to the America East Championships for the first time since finishing as runner-up in 1998. The top six teams in the league make the postseason and the tourney champions earn an automatic berth to the NCAA College Cup.
A strong defensive unit, led by senior co-captain Meg Foley (Marlborough, Conn.), will help the Wildcats attain the goal of postseason play. The return of Michelle Thornton (Gloucester, Ont.), an America East All-Conference First Team selection in 1998 and 1999, also bolsters the backfield. Thornton redshirted the 2000 season and missed the latter half of '99 due to injury.
The offense will be led by seniors Angeline Alexakos (Bedford, N.H.), Sarah Sargent (Glastonbury, Conn.) and co-captain Farrell Swain (West Simsbury, Conn.), the three top returning scorers.
Including Alexakos, the New Hampshire roster features seven players from the Granite State. The others are: sophomore forward Molly Blessing (Amherst), freshman forward Christine Breault (Hooksett), sophomore forward Kristin Kearney (Sandown), freshman back Amy Merrow (Keene), sophomore back Amber Radzevich (Hampstead) and junior midfielder Christy Smagula (Bedford).
New Hampshire opens the 2001 season at the Vermont Soccer Classic on Sept. 1 with a match against Tulsa at noon. The home opener at Lewis Fields is Sept. 7 against Colorado College. Game time is 4p.m.