South Carolina women's soccer will open the 2010 season as the nation's No. 12 team, its highest preseason ranking ever.
Coach Shelley Smith's earned the ranking in the preseason coaches poll released Tuesday by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
North Carolina tops the poll as the defending champions, followed by runner-up Stanford, UCLA, Notre Dame and Portland.
Five of South Carolina's opponents for the upcoming season are ranked.
The Gamecocks finished the 2009 campaign with a 19-4-2 record, earning the program's first SEC Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Round of 16. Smith guided South Carolina to school records for conference (seven) and overall (19) victories in a season en route to earning SEC and NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year honors.
South Carolina opens the 2010 season on Aug. 20 when the team travels to Boston, Mass., to play the Terriers and Northeastern Huskies.
2010 NSCAA Coaches Preseason Poll
1. North Carolina
4. Notre Dame
6. Florida State
7. Boston College
8. Texas A&M
9. Santa Clara
10. Wake Forest
12. South Carolina
13. Penn State
15. Virginia Tech
19. Southern California
21. Washington State
T22 BYU .... Oklahoma State
24. West Virginia