The University of Maine’s field hockey team will open the season nationally ranked for the second straight year.
The Black Bears were picked 25th in the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I preseason poll Tuesday. That is where they were chosen a year ago.
UMaine was one of three America East schools chosen in the top 25 along with Stanford University, which was tied for 15th, and Albany, which was No. 21.
Albany and Stanford were picked by the America East coaches to win their respective East and West divisions while UMaine was chosen second in the East.
Defending national champ the University of Connecticut topped the preseason poll.
UMaine has five games vs. teams ranked in the poll this season including two with Albany Sunday, Sept. 30, in Orono and at Albany Friday, Oct. 19.
UMaine will play back-to-back games against nationally ranked teams in two weekends as it will visit Boston University for a pair of games against No. 19 Terriers Friday, Aug. 31, and No. 24 Ohio State University the next day.
UMaine will entertain No. 15 Harvard University Sunday, Sept. 23.
“The first three games will be a good opportunity for us to see if we can climb up the rankings,” UMaine coach Josette Babineau said. “Holy Cross has been rebuilding the past couple of years, and they have done a real good job. We played them this past spring. Friday’s game will be more competitive than our games have been in the past.”
The Black Bears have already scrimmaged Boston University in Boston and played to a 2-2 tie last week.
UMaine, 12-6 a year ago, opens the season against Holy Cross at 1 p.m. Friday in Orono. Holy Cross was 7-11 a year ago and lost in the first round of the Patriot League playoffs to BU 4-0.
UMaine went 6-2 in America East and shared the East Division I regular season title with Albany. UMaine lost in the first round of the playoffs to Pacific 3-2.
UMaine was 14th in the country in goals per game last season (2.89) and has returned five of its top six scorers.
Babineau, whose team is led by six seniors, said the team is healthy heading into Friday’s opener.
UMaine is seeking its first ever NCAA Tournament berth.
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