HIGH POINT, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College women's soccer team has been selected #1 in the 2012 preseason coaches poll and will look to build on the strong foundation established over the past two years. The Bobcats rose to new heights last season, capturing the conference regular season and tournament titles for the first time in school history, securing the programs first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament with their 13-5-3 overall and 11-1 league records. Pfeiffer University, who received two first-place votes, comes in at #5.
Whiting and the Bobcats return 16 letter-winners from last year's squad, including reigning conference freshman of the year Meagan Thornton, and three-time all-league honoree Mary Dorn. The Bobcats will rely on a seasoned veteran corps led by Dorn, fellow senior Emily Jones, and juniors MaryBeth Sullivan and Kaitlyn Kerrigan, to continue their rise through the ranks on both the regional and national level.
"Being ranked atop of Conference Carolinas is quite an honor, but one we do not take lightly as it is a conference full of talented teams and great coaches," said Whiting. "We will continue to improve our focus and work rate in order to be ready for the regular season."
After coming off the best season in team history, the Limestone College women's soccer team returns three All-Conference selections and one All-Region defender in Lauren Lanham. Last year, the Saints set a number of program records en route to a 13-5-1 overall record (9-3 conference) and an appearance in the Conference Carolinas Tournament Semifinals for the second time in three seasons.
Sophomore forward Gabriella Reid, is the team's top returning scorer with 10 goals in 2011, while seniors Holli Schwartz and Ashley Spanitz will anchor the defense that allowed just 17 goals this past year.
The Belmont Abbey College women's soccer team returns three all-conference performers and four of its top six point producers from last year's 12-7-2 (10-2 conference) unit that reached the Conference Carolinas Tournament Final for the seventh-straight year. Forward Amanda Gebreyesus, and midfielders Slivia Vazquez and Alana Ryczek were all named second team all-conference, as Gebreyesus tied for the team lead with nine goals, while Ryczek and Vazquez totaled three and two, respectively. Goalkeeper Hannah Kohls returns for her sophomore year in the Abbey net as she accumulated a 1.02 goals against average with 54 saves.
Mount Olive finished fourth in the poll with Pfeiffer fifth followed by Queens, King, Erskine, North Greenville, Converse, Coker and Barton respectively rounding-out the poll standings.
Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer Preseason Poll (Number of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)
1. Lees McRae - (6) 110
2. Limestone - (2) 105
3. Belmont Abbey - (1) 103
4. Mount Olive - 90
5. Pfeiffer - (2) 85
6. Queens - (1) 73
7. King - 61
8. Erskine - 51
9. North Greenville - 41
10. Converse - 27
11. Coker - 26
12. Barton - 20