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
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.