WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The UNCW women's soccer program has been picked to finish third in the upcoming Colonial Athletic Association regular season, according to the annual preseason coaches poll released Tuesday.

Defending tournament champion Hofstra received six first-place votes and 61 total points to narrowly edge out defending regular-season champion William and Mary, which earned the other three first-place votes and had 59 total points. Only four points separated third through sixth place in the poll with the Seahawks (40 points) selected third followed by James Madison (39), Drexel (37) and Northeastern (36). Rounding out the poll were Delaware (29), CAA newcomer College of Charleston (12) and Towson (11).

The most improved team in the nation last season, the Seahawks posted a 12-7-3 overall record in 2012 and advanced to the title game of the CAA Women’s Soccer Championship for the second time in four seasons.

Veteran coach Paul Cairney returns six starters from last season’s squad, including Third-Team All-CAA performers junior Stephanie Bronson (5 G, 3 A) and sophomore Maddie McCormick (8 G, 3 A). Sophomore Lindsey Byrne (3 A), an All-Rookie Team selection last season, also returns to the lineup.  

The CAA has had five different teams capture the league title over the past five years. The conference has placed multiple teams in the NCAA Tournament field in 15 of the past 20 seasons.