Michigan State University, which was ranked 10th in the nation when it lost to No. 6 Iowa 1-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, headlines the University of Maine field hockey schedule this season.
Maine will play 13 nonleague games to go with five America East games.
Michigan State, which was 17-6 a year ago, Rutgers (14-6), Providence College (12-9) and Hofstra (10-9) are the four nonleague opponents who won 10 or more games a year ago, and five more won at least seven: Colgate (9-9), Yale (7-10), Holy Cross (7-11), Sacred Heart (7-12) and Northwestern (7-13).
The others are Dartmouth (6-11), Pacific (6-12), Brown (5-12) and Bryant (2-16). Bryant is in its second year in Division I and the first-year coach is Shaunessy Saucier, former Old Town High School and University of Maine star.
“It’s a tough schedule, but I like it a lot,” said Maine coach Josette Babineau. “I like the number of games and that we’re playing teams from a lot of different conferences. That’s very important in terms of improving on our rankings.”
The Bears, who open on Aug. 29 at Hofstra, will play their conference games in October.
“Our nonconference schedule will prepare us [well] for conference play and for the playoffs,” said Babineau.
Maine has an early-season three-game home stand against Dartmouth (Sept. 6), Yale (Sept. 11) and Colgate (Sept. 13) before embarking on a seven-game road trip that includes a three-games-in-four-days stretch.
“That’s a lot, but to just gain experience in those four days will be very important to us,” said Babineau, who will return eight starters and 15 letter-winners off last year’s 6-11 team that lost to New Hampshire 3-2 in overtime in the America East semifinals.