North Carolina, the NCAA runner-up in each of the past two seasons after winning the 2009 national championship, has been ranked No. 2 in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Field Hockey Preseason Poll, released Tuesday by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.
Leading the poll is Maryland, the two-time defending NCAA champion. The Terrapins, who have beaten UNC in overtime in the last two title games, received 17 of 43 first-place votes and 815 total points. UNC was right behind with 15 first-place votes and 799 total points.
Old Dominion, also in the final four last year, was third with 629 points. Princeton was fourth with 609 points and seven first-place votes. Connecticut, another 2011 final four team, was sixth with 565 points, Syracuse was seventh with 559 points and Virginia was eighth with 539 total points and the three remaining first-place votes.
During the 2012 season, UNC will face 10 of the top 17 teams in the preseason poll for a total of 12 games. The Tar Heels kick off the fall this weekend with games against No. 10 Michigan on Saturday and No. 12 Iowa on Sunday in Winston-Salem, N.C. Other opponents in the poll are No. 1 Maryland, No. 3 ODU twice, No. 5 Duke, No. 7 Syracuse, No. 8 Virginia, No. 11 Stanford, No. 13 Wake Forest twice and No. 17 Boston College.