Monday, August 12, 2013 12:00 PM
IUP snagged seven first-place votes, marking the second-consecutive season the Crimson Hawks have appeared at the top of the preseason poll and the seventh straight year they've been ranked in the top three. In 2012 IUP was tied with California for the top slot in the Western Division. With the aid of six first-place votes, Shippensburg earned a preseason No. 1 spot for the first time since 2004. Prior to 2008, the Raiders competed in the Western Division. Until now in the Eastern Division poll, Shippensburg has never been ranked any higher than fourth.
The Crimson Hawks enter 2013 coming-off their first PSAC Championship crown since 1987 and an NCAA playoff berth for the first time since 2007. IUP advanced to the regional final at Winston-Salem State after defeating Shepherd (27-17) and New Haven (17-14). The Crimson Hawks lost a heartbreaking 21-17 decision in the Super Region One title game, unable to net the game-winning score despite reaching the WSSU five-yard line in the final minutes of the contest. The NCAA postseason appearance marked IUP's 15th in school history, the most by any PSAC school.
Shippensburg also appeared in the 2012 NCAA playoffs, but was also unable to overcome eventual NCAA Division II runner-up Winston-Salem in the championship's second round. The postseason berth was the third for the Raiders in the last nine years and its fifth in school history. The Raiders defeated Bloomsburg 58-20 in the first round of the playoffs, marking the squad's first NCAA playoff victory since 1991. In 2012 the Red Raiders also appeared in their first PSAC Championship game since 2009, when they defeated California 42-35 to garner their first league crown since 1981. The "state game" was played each year from 1960-87 then reinstated again in the 2008 season.
Mercyhurst, ranked second in the 2013 preseason poll, earned the final first-place nod in the West. The Lakers finished 2012 divisional play with a 40-7 win over California (Pa.) that propelled them to split the Western Division title with IUP. Mercyhurst was denied access to the "state game" having lost the head-to-head battle with IUP, 31-13.
Slippery Rock came in third in the West separated by fourth-place California by just one point. Gannon advanced one slot from the 2012 preseason poll to fifth, while Edinboro dropped two spots to No. 6. Clarion and new PSAC member Seton Hill round out the poll at seventh and eighth, respectively.
No. 2 Bloomsburg and No. 3 West Chester each earned a first-place vote in the Eastern Division. In 2012 the Huskies made their program's ninth appearance in the NCAA playoffs, and their third trip in five years. West Chester has appeared in the playoffs on 11 occasions, but seek its first appearance since the 2008 campaign.
Kutztown, which garnered the No. 1 spot in the 2012 preseason poll with five first-place votes, fell to fourth in 2013 after a 4-3 divisional performance a year ago. East Stroudsburg stands at No. 5, while Lock Haven holds the No. 6 slot, the best preseason poll rank for the Bald Eagles since being picked to finish sixth in the West in 2007. Millersville and Cheyney finish out the East poll at seventh and eighth, respectively.
The results of the coaches' poll are listed below. First-place votes are in parenthesis.
1. Shippensburg (6)
2. Bloomsburg (1)
3. West Chester (1)
5. East Stroudsburg
6. Lock Haven
1. IUP (7)
2. Mercyhurst (1)
3. Slippery Rock
8. Seton Hill
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