(Missourian file photo)
Southeast, the defending OVC regular-season champion, was picked second in the conference's preseason poll announced Wednesday. Voting was done by the league's coaches and sports information directors.
The Redhawks garnered nine first-place votes and 180 points to finish behind defending OVC tournament champion Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks nabbed the remaining 13 first-place votes and 190 points.
Morehead State (143 points) was picked third and Eastern Kentucky (130) fourth. Belmont (122) and Murray State (122) tied for fifth.
SIU Edwardsville (98) is seventh, Austin Peay (92) eighth, Eastern Illinois (65) ninth and Jacksonville State (33) and Tennessee Tech (33) deadlocked for 10th.
Southeast returns six starters and 10 letterwinners from a 2011 squad that went 12-6-1 overall and 8-1-0 in OVC play. The Redhawks allowed the fewest goals (16) and scored the second-most goals (35) in the league, while their 12 victories were their most since 2007.
Among Southeast's returning starters are two first-team all-OVC selections from a year ago in junior goalkeeper Ashton Aubuchon and sophomore forward Erin Shulman, the conference's freshman of the year.
Southeast's Heather Nelson won her fourth OVC coach of the year award in 2011.
The Redhawks open the season against defending Missouri Valley Conference champion Illinois State at Houck Stadium on Aug. 17.