UMass Ranked 10th in NFHCA Preseason Poll
The University of Maryland took the top spot with 881 points and 22 of the 47 first place votes. Connecticut was chosen for the top spot by 14 coaches, the second-highest total behind the Terps, but starts the season at No. 3 with 831 points. North Carolina occupies second with 855 points to go with eight first place votes. Duke (776 points) and Syracuse (729) round out the top five. Each received one vote for first place.
Virginia (572) took sixth, followed closely by Princeton (571) and Penn State (552). Old Dominion sits ninth, directly ahead of the Minutewomen with 516 points. UMass received 406 points in the poll, which features four 2014 opponents in Maryland, Boston College, Connecticut and Syracuse.
Boston College is the only other school from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to earn a spot in the NFHCA top-20 as the Eagles hold 13th on the strength of 361 points. Massachusetts is the lone Atlantic 10 Conference institution ranked.
The Minutewomen return 17 letterwinners from the 2013 campaign, including six starters. Massachusetts finished last season with a 19-5 record overall and 7-0 mark in Atlantic 10 play. In 2013, the squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time since 2000 after it won the Atlantic 10 Tournament Title for the 14th time in program history and second consecutive season.
Carla Tagliente returns for her fourth season as the head coach of the Minutewomen. She owns a 41-25 record at the helm of the program. Shannon Taylor rejoins the UMass coaching staff and serves as an assistant coach alongside Sarah Mansfield, who was a four-year NFHCA All-American in goal for the University of Connecticut. Taylor previously coached with the Minutewomen in 2012 while Mansfield enters her first season on-staff.The University of Massachusetts opens its 2014 schedule against No. 1 Maryland on Friday, Aug. 29 in a neutral-site game hosted by Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After facing Temple on Sunday, Aug. 31, the Minutewomen return to Amherst, Massachusetts, to host the University of Maine for the 2014 home-opener on Friday, Sept. 5 at 4 p.m. Admission to all UMass home games is free of charge.