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CLEVELAND -- The Ohio field hockey team has been picked to place third in the league standings in the 2016 Mid-American Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as voted on by the conference's head coaches, the league office announced on Tuesday (Aug. 16).
The Bobcats received 24 points to finish third in the poll as well as one first-place vote and one vote to win the MAC tournament title.
The Bobcats finished 2015 with eight victories -- including three conference triumphs. Ohio qualified for the MAC Championship as the No. 4 seed, marking the 26th-straight season the Green & White qualified for the league tournament. Twelfth-year head coach Neil Macmillan enters 2016 as the longest-tenured head coach in MAC field hockey and is two victories away from becoming the all-time winningest coach in Ohio field hockey history. Macmillan's squad returns junior Maria Russell (Hudson, Ohio), who garnered First Team All-MAC selection in 2016 and tied for the lead league with a career-high 12 goals, as well as sophomore Kendall Ballard (Charlottesville, Va.), who earned Second Team All-MAC recognition in her rookie campaign.
Miami was picked to win the MAC by way of 38 points -- including three first-place votes. Defending league champion Kent State garnered 37 points to place second in the poll and also received three first-place votes. The RedHawks and Golden Flashes each earned three votes to win the conference's tournament championship. Both squads finished 2015 with 5-1 (.833) conference marks, with Kent State edging Miami, 1-0, in their regular season meeting. The No. 1-seeded Golden Flashes then knocked off the No. 2-seeded RedHawks, 3-2, in double overtime in the 2015 MAC Championship title match.
Longwood (23 points), Missouri State (12), Central Michigan (7) and Ball State (6) rounded out the preseason poll.
After visiting Louisville on Wednesday (Aug. 18) for an exhibition match, Ohio embarks on its 17-match 2016 regular season schedule by playing host to Saint Francis on Aug. 26 in the first of three-straight home matches at Pruitt Field for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats open MAC play with a home match against Central Michigan on Sept. 30. The Bobcats have taken each of the last three meetings from Central Michigan -- including logging a 3-1 win over Chippewas on Oct. 2, 2015 in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
As last year's regular season champion, Kent State will host the 2016 MAC Championship (Nov. 4-5). The winner of the conference tournament advances to the 2016 NCAA Championship (Nov. 9-20), which culminates in the Final Four being held in Norfolk, Va.