After returning to the NCAA Semifinals for the third straight season and placing in the top-two in the Northeast-10 Conference regular season standings, the Merrimack College field hockey team has been selected to finish second in the 2014 NE-10 Field Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the league announced Friday.
Garnering three first-place votes and 106 total points in the poll, the Warriors were slotted second only behind reigning league champion and national runner-up LIU Post, who led the 12-team field with eight first-place votes and 117 points. Merrimack and LIU squared off twice last year in two absolutely epic matchups, the first needing double-overtime before the Pioneers prevailed on Long Island before the two battled all the way down to the final whistle in the National Semifinal.
The receiver of the only other first-place vote, Stonehill (104 points) ranked third in the poll after a breakthrough 2013 campaign that saw the Skyhawks finish as runners-up in the NE-10 Championship while earning one of the league’s three NCAA Tournament berths. Adelphi (83) and Bentley (73) were pegged fourth and fifth in the poll, while Assumption (59) rounded out the top-six.
Southern Connecticut earned 57 points for a seventh-place spot in the rankings, ahead of eighth-place AIC (52) and ninth-place Saint Anselm (46). Sitting in 10th was Saint Michael’s (44), while league newcomer Southern New Hampshire, in its first year as a varsity program, was tabbed 11th (18), just ahead of 12th-place Franklin Pierce (17).
The 2014 NE-10 Field Hockey Championship will be held Nov. 18-22 with higher seeds hosting throughout the three-round tournament. The top-two seeds at the end of the regular season earn byes to the semifinals, and the last two teams standing will clash for the league crown on Saturday, Nov. 22.
The Warriors kick off the fall with a trip down to Easton, Massachusetts, a week from today (Sept. 5) to battle Stonehill. It will mark the first meeting between the two squads since the Warriors edged the Skyhawks in overtime in last year’s NCAA Tournament First Round.
Mike McMahon covers Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report as well as on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN