The 2015 Division I NCAA field hockey season ended with Syracuse University hoisting the National Championship trophy. This accomplishment gave the Orange their first championship in program history, and was the first championship won by a women’s team in school history.
The Penn Monto/NFHCA Preseason Poll places 2015 runner-up, North Carolina, as the top team and ranking the defending national champions as No. 2. Every school in the Atlantic Coast Conference is represented in the top 20 poll, four of which are in the top five, and six in the top ten. Local favorite and powerhouse, University of Maryland is ranked No. 6 on the list.
No. 3 University of Connecticut, the back to back national champions in 2013 and 2014, are looking to capture their third title in four years. UConn has made a trip to the Final Four four times in the past five seasons making them a force to be reckoned with.
Be aware of No. 15 Princeton University. They are the sole representative of the Ivy League but have proven themselves as a program that cannot be overlooked. Princeton took home the championship trophy in 2012 as they beat UNC 3-2.
Wrapping up the list at No. 20 is perennial program Old Dominion University. ODU hasn’t seized the championship trophy since 2000, and haven’t made a Final Four appearance since 2011, nonetheless they are the most successful club in NCAA history with nine national titles.
This weekend kicked-off the NCAA Division I season and was full of action-packed field hockey and a number of upsets.
Penn State made this biggest statement this weekend as the No. 18 ranked Nittany Lions trumped No. 20 ODU and blanked No. 5 UVA 3-0. This is a huge turnaround for a team that went 9-10 last season, and lost in the Big Ten Conference Tournament in overtime to miss the NCAA tournament.
Michigan also turned heads as they defeated No. 1 UNC. The two top-ten teams battled back and forth for the entirety of the game, in the final minute of regular play Michigan drew a corner and scored the game winner with no time remaining.
Syracuse, looking to redeem their No. 1 spot, went 2-0 this weekend with two big wins over Temple and University of Maryland. Fellow New York colleague, University of Albany, had back-to-back shutouts to open up their season leaving them undefeated as well.
Unranked Iowa raised eyebrows on Saturday as their early lead paid off in a victory over No. 7 Wake Forest, but their win-steak was short lived as they fell to UNC the following afternoon.
Based on this weekend, the 2016 season promises to be exciting – anything is possible! To view the full list of the Penn Monto/NFHCA top 20 and future polls visit nfhca.org.