Princeton looks to repeat as champion, but ACC provides plenty of threats
Princeton: The 2012 national champions host eight home contests at Bedford Field and are scheduled to face five teams that participated in last season’s NCAA tournament.
The Tigers’ title defense begins at home on Friday, Sept. 6 versus Duke, opening up a four-game home stand featuring Fairfield (Sept. 7), Michigan State (Sept. 13) and NCAA quarterfinalist Penn State on Sept. 15.
The Ivy League slate commences with Dartmouth on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Hanover, N.H. The Big Green were the only conference opponent to score against the Tigers in 2012, as Princeton outscored league foes 45-1.
Princeton’s only blemish in its historic run to its first NCAA title was at the hands of national semifinalist Syracuse, a 2-0 loss at Bedford Field. This time the two squads will meet on Sunday, Sept. 22 in New York.
North Carolina: North Carolina plays its season opener at Lock Haven on Aug. 30. The Tar Heels, back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference champions, return 12 letterwinners and welcome 10 newcomers. In addition, three players who redshirted last season are ready to take the field.
"I'm always excited for the start of preseason," said UNC head coach Karen Shelton, who is heading into her 33rd season with the team. "We worked hard this spring to lay a strong foundation, and now we get to add the newcomers into the mix. I'm so pleased about our incoming class -- these players are going to help us all over the field. We had a great summer with a lot of highlights, and now we're thrilled to have everyone together in Chapel Hill and ready to go."
UNC has been picked as the preseason favorite to win the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Field Hockey Championship, according to a vote of the league's seven head coaches, who also named junior Charlotte Craddock and sophomore Emily Wold to the preseason All-ACC team.
Syracuse: Coming off its final four run a season ago, Syracuse began preseason camp in a new conference and with many new faces.
Head coach Ange Bradley's squad is preparing for its season opener Aug. 30 against Quinnipiac in Hempstead, N.Y. The Orange makes its debut in the ACC, by far field hockey's premier conference, on Sept. 20 at Boston College.
With the loss of six graduating seniors from 2012's Orange team that went 19-3, was ranked No. 1 in the country for three consecutive weeks, won the Big East regular-season title in its final season in the conference and advanced to the program's second final four, Bradley has restocked the SU roster with nine freshmen and 11 new players in all.
With so many new faces, early season practices are vital to forming the on-field chemistry that made the Orange such a potent offense and stingy defense a year ago. The Orange ranked fourth in the country in goals per game (3.91) and third in shutouts (eight).
Maryland: The Terrapins return eight of 11 starters from last year’s final four team. In 2012, Maryland went 18-6 and advanced to its fifth consecutive national semifinal and 15th under head coach Missy Meharg.
The Terps will open the season vs. New Hampshire in Temple’s Conference Cup in Philadelphia Aug. 31 at noon. Maryland will play either Ohio State or Temple on Sunday, Sept. 1.
“We’re very fortunate to have so many players that have had so much hockey in their lives since January,” Meharg said. “The temperament and level of performance in the training sessions has been really high, which makes it really exciting. We’re really impressed in the amount of players that are able to play on different lines.”