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Columbus State Favored to Capture PBC Women's Soccer Championship

AUGUSTA, GA -- Columbus State was selected unanimously as the preseason favorite to win the Peach Belt Conference women’s soccer championship in a poll of the league’s head coaches released today. The Lady Cougars captured all 10 available first-place votes and are the preseason favorite for the fourth year in a row. GCSU was next in second place while Armstrong Atlantic State was third. UNC Pembroke was fourth, Montevallo fifth and North Georgia sixth. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.

Columbus State won their fourth straight PBC Championship and third straight PBC Tournament title in 2008, setting conference records for most consecutive titles won in both. The Lady Cougars were ranked as high as #3 in the nation last season, finishing 21-4-1 after advancing to the NCAA national quarterfinals. For 2009, the Lady Cougars welcome back the potent scoring duo of Gina Goforth and Stephanie Parrish, who combined to score 33 goals and nine assists. Also back are midfielders and co-team captains Jill Walthall and Kate Walton along with defensive standout Leslie Mathews.

GCSU reached the NCAA tournament for the first time ever in 2008 and were ranked nationally with a 13-3-4 overall record. The Bobcats allowed a league-low 10 goals and recorded 13 shutouts as their defense set the standard in the PBC with a 0.48 goals against average. For 2009, that defense returns nearly intact with All-Conference goalkeeper Mary Rob Plunkett and All-Conference defenders Morgan Cobb and Jessica Binkowski.

Armstrong Atlantic State finished 11-6-3 in the PBC last year and advanced to the PBC Tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive year. The Pirates remain one of the premier offensive teams in the PBC behind senior Kristin Burton. Burton earned her second PBC Player of the Year award in 2008 with a league-best 22 goals, becoming the third PBC women’s soccer player to earn the award more than once. AASU should be potent once again in 2009 with three of their top five scorers returning.

The 2009 season will have a different look as the PBC welcomes Flagler and Montevallo. Flagler played as an independent last season while Montevallo finished second in the Gulf South Conference with a 11-6-3 overall record. Also joining the PBC is new Georgia Southwestern head coach Tony Economopoulos.

The 2009 season begins on Aug. 27 with conference play beginning Sept. 12. The PBC Tournament will begin with first-round games on home sites on Nov. 3 with the final four returning to Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., Nov. 6 and 8.

Rank School 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Total
1. Columbus State 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100
2. GCSU 1 6 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 87
3. Armstrong Atlantic 0 3 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 81
4. UNC Pembroke 0 2 3 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 73
5. Montevallo 0 0 1 2 3 3 1 0 0 0 59
6. North Georgia 0 0 0 2 5 2 0 1 0 0 57
7. Lander 0 0 0 1 0 2 5 2 0 0 43
8. Flagler 0 0 0 0 1 3 3 1 1 1 39
9. Clayton State 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 4 3 0 33
10. USC Aiken 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 6 1 22
11. Georgia Southwestern 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 9 11