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CLEVELAND -- The Ohio field hockey team has been picked to finish sixth in the 2018 Mid-American Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced the league office today. The preseason poll was voted on by the league's seven head coaches.
The Bobcats garnered 18 points overall. Miami, which received six of seven first-place votes, was selected to repeat as the conference's regular season champion. The RedHawks also received five of seven votes to win a second-straight MAC tournament title. Kent State was selected to finish second in the poll with a total of 42 points. Longwood was tabbed to finish third with 35 points and one first-place vote. Appalachian State (23 points) and Ball State (20 points) were picked to finish fourth and fifth, respectively, while Central Michigan rounded out the poll in seventh place with 12 points. Kent State and Appalachian State each received a vote to win the MAC tournament.
Ali Johnstone -- a former Bobcat standout and member of the Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame -- is set to begin her first season as head coach at Ohio. Johnstone's first roster features two key returners. Senior midfielder Kendall Ballard (Charlottesville, Va.) is coming off a junior campaign in which she earned Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I West All-Region Second Team and All-Mid-American Conference First Team honors after leading the Bobcats in points (21), goals (8), game-winning goals (2), shots (45) and shots on goal (20) and tied for the team lead in assists (5). Senior forward Emma Eggleston (Houston, Texas) is also back after garnering All-MAC Second Team honors as a junior. She tied for the team lead and tied for seventh in the MAC with five assists.
Ohio begins its 15-match regular season slate this weekend with a pair of road contests on the East Coast. The Bobcats visit La Salle on Friday (Aug. 24) for a noon EST match, then travel to Monmouth for a Sunday (Aug. 26) noon showdown.
The Bobcats will make their home debut under Johnstone the following weekend, welcoming Saint Louis (Aug. 31; 3 p.m.) and Liberty (Sept. 2; 1 p.m.) to Athens to begin a stretch of five of six matches played at Pruitt Field.
Ohio will open up MAC play against Appalachian State on Sept. 15 noon at Pruitt Field.
By virtue of winning last season's league tournament title, Miami will host to the 2018 MAC Championship (Oct. 31-Nov. 3) in Oxford. All seven teams will qualify for the conference tournament this season, with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds receiving byes to the semifinals. The No. 6 and No. 7 seeds will face off in a play-in game, with the winner taking on the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals. The No. 4 and No 5 seeds will matchup in the other quarterfinal contest. The 2018 MAC Championship Final will take place on Nov. 3, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Championship Field as conference champion. A total of 18 teams will qualify for the 2018 tournament. Ten teams will receive automatic bids by winning their conference tournaments and an additional eight teams will earn at-large bids. The national semifinals (Nov. 16) and championship match (Nov. 18) will be held at Louisville's Trager Stadium.
2018 MAC Field Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll Results
1. Miami – 46 (6)
2. Kent State - 42
3. Longwood – 35 (1)
4. Appalachian State – 23
5. Ball State – 20
6. Ohio – 18
7. Central Michigan – 12
Tournament Champion- Miami (5), Appalachian State (1), Kent State (1)