Cleveland, OH -
If this year's preseason poll is any indication, then it should be a highly competitive season for MAC field hockey. With three teams separated by a mere two votes, Kent State won out over Miami and Ohio to take first place in the league as voted on by the league's head coaches.
Kent State will be led this year by the return of MAC Player of the Year Rachel Miller, the only player in the league to record double-digit goals and assists a season ago. Helping her up front in the forward position will be junior Debbie Bell, whose 29 goals last year nearly doubled that of the second-place finisher and earned her a spot on the First Team All-MAC Team along with her teammate Miller. Goalkeeper should be another position of strength with Caroline Suitch back for her senior season.
Finishing second in the voting were the Miami RedHawks. Fifth-year senior Mary Hull leads what should be a strong and balanced offensive attack. Her 13 goals in 2009 led the team and put her third in the conference. Along with the two members of the Kent State squad, she is the only other returning member of the First Team All-MAC Team of a year ago. Hull will be aided by fellow forwards Kate Snyder and Jackie Nguyen, who recorded 10 and eight goals last season respectively, as well as 2009 Second Teamer Christine Brighwell who is the team's leading returner in assists with six.
Rounding out the tightly-bunched trio are the Ohio Bobcats. The defending MAC champions lose their top two leading point-getters from last year but welcome back Second Team All-MAC performer Katherine Ballard, who finished the year with nine goals, as well as MAC Freshman of the Year Andrea Biegalski who will anchor the defense from her midfield position. The return of the goalkeeping tandem of Courtney Seiders and Jen McGill also bodes well for the defense as the Bobcats led the league in shutouts last season with six.
In fourth were the Central Michigan Chippewas where the Sihota sisters, Kim and Brooke, lead the defense. Fifth place belongs to Ball State, led by new head coach Beth Maddox. Rounding out the poll in sixth was Missouri State who hopes for big things from their front line of Kristen Pettey and Kristina O'Connor.
The regular season gets underway this Friday with Ball State, Ohio and Miami taking to the field. Kent State, Central Michigan and Missouri State follow on Saturday. The MAC Field Hockey Championship will be hosted by Central Michigan from November 4-6.
2010 MAC Field Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Kent State (2) 31
2. Miami (2) 30
3. Ohio (2) 29
4. Central Michigan 17
5. Ball State 10
6. Missouri State 9