AUGUSTA, GA – For the fifth straight year, the Columbus State women’s soccer team has been selected as the Peach Belt Conference preseason favorite in a poll of the league’s head coaches released today. The Cougars were unanimous favorites in the top spot, receiving all 10 first-place votes they were eligible for to finish ahead of second-place Armstrong Atlantic State. North Georgia was third in the poll with Lander in fourth and GCSU in fifth. Montevallo, UNC Pembroke, Flagler, Clayton State, USC Aiken and Georgia Southwestern rounded out the voting.
Columbus State, ranked #12 in the NSCAA preseason top 25, won their fifth consecutive regular-season championship in 2009 and is 38-2-3 against league opponents in the regular season during that run. Head coach Jay Entlich will have to replace some scoring for 2010 with four of his top five scorers gone, but does return preseason All-Conference selection Stephanie Parrish who was second on the team with 10 goals last year. Also departed is goalkeeper Kelly Nimmo who was tied for the league lead with a 0.59 GAA. The Cougars do return seven of 11 starters from last year’s team that advanced to the NCAA regional finals.
Armstrong Atlantic State won their first-ever PBC Tournament championship in 2009 and are ranked #19 in the nation in the NSCAA preseason poll. Head coach Eric Faulconer welcomes back 19 players from last year’s team, but will be without four-time All-American and three-time PBC Player of the Year Kristin Burton. All-Conference and All-Region defender Carey Patterson leads the large returning class where she will be joined by All-Conference midfielder Morgan Mitchell.
North Georgia earns their best preseason poll ranking ever after turning in their first 10-win season since joining the conference. The Lady Saints went 10-5-2 overall and 6-3-1 in conference play last year, earning head coach Chris Adams the PBC Coach of the Year honor. For 2010, Adams welcomes back PBC Freshman of the Year Kelsey Martin who scored nine goals and three assists as a true freshman. Also back is All-Conference and All-American defender Casey Smith, who scored six goals with nine assists from the defense and is nine assists away from the PBC all-time mark.
The 2010 women’s soccer season begins on Sept. 2 with conference play kicking off Sept. 10. The season will conclude with the PBC Tournament Nov. 2, 5-7, in Evans, Ga., which is being played as part of the first-ever PBC Fall Festival which brings the men’s and women’s soccer championships and the men’s and women’s cross country championships to Blanchard Woods Park on the same weekend.
The 2010 coaches poll is below. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
For a team-by-team preview of the 2010 season, please click here.
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