Coach Nicky Pearson’s squad has won three of the last four national championships and earned 33 of 46 first-place votes in the season’s initial rankings.
The Polar Bears were followed closely in the poll by Messiah College, who fell to Bowdoin in penalty strokes in the 2010 title match. Ursinus, Salisbury and Lebanon Valley round out the top five teams. The New England Small College Athletic Conference is well-represented in the rankings, with Tufts (6th), Middlebury (10th), Amherst (14th), Hamilton (17th) and Trinity (19th) also making appearances.
Bowdoin graduated six players from a talented senior class that never lost an NCAA Tournament game in their career. The Polar Bears retain five of their top six scorers from last year’s squad, however, and seven of eleven starters from last year’s NCAA Championship game. Katie Herter and Ella Curren will captain the squad in 2011, who will open their slate at Wesleyan September 10.