Special to GC NEW YORK, N.Y. - The Florida Gators enter their inaugural season in the BIG EAST Conference as the favorite to win the conference title after league officials announced the preseason coaches poll<http://www.bigeast.com/sports/w-lacros/spec-rel/012715aaa.html> on Tuesday afternoon. Additionally, four student-athletes were unanimously selected to the preseason first team. Senior midfielder Shannon Gilroy and sophomore defender Caroline Fitzgerald were also lauded as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Joining the duo on the first team were senior midfielder Nora Barry and sophomore attack Sammi Burgess. UF received seven-of-the-eight possible first-place votes and earned 49 total points. The only first-place vote the Gators didn't receive was their own vote, as head coaches can't vote for their own team. Georgetown was picked second with 42 points and Connecticut was tabbed third with 36 points and received the lone remaining first-place vote. Gilroy, a 2014 Tewaaraton Award finalist and the nation's leading goal scorer from a season ago, enters her final season for the Orange & Blue needing just 22 goals to pass Kitty Cullen (2010-13) as the program's all-time leading goal scorer. Gilroy has already been named a Preseason First-Team All-American by Inside Lacrosse. Fitzgerald was one of three student-athletes to be named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year after the voting ended in a three-way tie. The Mount Sinai, New York, native emerged during her rookie campaign as one of the country's premier shutdown defenders. She was named a Preseason Second-Team All-American by Inside Lacrosse. Entering her final season for the Gators, Barry is one of the top two-way players in the nation, excelling on defense, while being an adept and clutch scorer. In her career, she has scored 12 game-winning goals. Barry also was named a Preseason Second-Team All-American by Inside Lacrosse earlier this year. As a freshman, Burgess became one of the most potent first-year attackers in the country. She finished second on the team with 38 goals and 53 points, and was named American Lacrosse Conference (ALC) Rookie of the Year. The sophomore was also tabbed a Preseason Honorable Mention All-American by Inside Lacrosse. Florida opens the season at home on Feb. 7 at 11:30 a.m. against fellow national powerhouse North Carolina. It will be the Tar Heels' first visit to Gainesville, as the previous five meeting between the two schools were played in Chapel Hill. The team will begin BIG EAST play on March 22 when it travels to Nashville, Tennessee, to face familiar foe Vanderbilt, who also begins its first year in the BIG EAST. Polls and teams were selected after voting by the head coaches of all eight member schools.