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August 22, 2011

Armstrong Atlantic State Named Women’s Soccer Preseason Favorite

AUGUSTA, GA – For the first time, the Armstrong Atlantic State Pirates have been selected as the women’s soccer preseason favorite in a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches released on Monday.  The Pirates garnered five first-place and five second-place votes for a total of 95 points, edging out perennial power Columbus State, who was second with 93.  North Georgia is third in the voting with 78, two ahead of UNC Pembroke in fourth.  Lander was fifth, one point ahead of Georgia College in sixth.  Montevallo, Clayton State, Flagler, USC Aiken and Georgia Southwestern rounded out the voting.

Armstrong Atlantic State is coming off their most successful season since launching the program in 2005.  The Pirates claimed a share of the 2010 PBC regular-season championship for the first time ever and reached the NCAA Southeast Region championship game.  Ranked #11 in the NSCAA preseason top 25, the Pirates return eight starters and 20 players from last year’s 14-4-2 squad including senior defender Kelli Bahr, junior forward Kristina Pascutti and junior midfielder Morgan Mitchell, all of whom were placed on the PBC preseason All-Conference team.

Columbus State sees their run of four straight PBC preseason selections come to an end but the Lady Cougars begin the 2011 season ranked #16 in the nation and strong contenders to extend their PBC-record streak of regular-season championships to seven.  CSU won their fourth PBC Tournament title in the last five years last season and made their fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  Returning is 2010 PBC co-Player of the Year Stephanie Lowery who set a single-season school record with 19 goals scored.  Also back is sophomore defender Kansas Bayly, who was named to the PBC preseason All-Conference team.

North Georgia is also coming off their most successful season ever at 14-5-1, setting a school record for wins in the NCAA era.  The Lady Saints also made their first appearance in the PBC Tournament championship game after upsetting Armstrong in the semifinals.  Six starters and 15 letterwinners return for 2011 including junior forward Kelsey Martin who was the 2009 PBC Freshman of the Year and in 2010 was in the PBC’s top 10 in goals and points.  Senior midfielder Natalie Douglass also returns after scoring seven goals a year ago.  Both players were named preseason All-Conference.

UNC Pembroke reached the NCAA postseason for the second time in the last three years in 2010 after finishing third in the PBC standings with a 16-4-2 overall record.  The Lady Braves turned in the second-most wins in school history and won 16 or more for the second time in three seasons.  The Lady Braves won with defense and look to have one of the top defensive teams in the league with the return of goalkeeper Brittany Bennett and defender Fanny Forsman. Bennett was named the 2010 PBC Freshman of the Year and led the conference with 10 shutouts and a 0.50 GAA.  Forsman was part of a defense that led the PBC with a 0.53 team GAA and she also had three assists.

The 2011 season begins on Sept. 1 and goes through to the PBC Tournament which begins with quarterfinal matches on campus Nov. 1 before the final four return to Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., Nov. 4 and 6.

The full coaches’ poll is below.  Teams were given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine for a second and so on.  Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

Total

1. Armstrong Atlantic State 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 95
2. Columbus State 4 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 93
3. North Georgia 2 1 3 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 78
4. UNC Pembroke 0 0 7 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 76
5. Lander 0 0 0 2 3 4 1 0 0 0 56
6. Georgia College 0 0 0 2 4 3 0 0 1 0 55
7. Montevallo 0 0 0 3 0 3 3 0 0 1 49
t8. Clayton State 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 6 1 0 36
t8. Flagler 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 4 0 0 36
10. USC Aiken 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 4 17
11. Georgia Southwestern 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 6 14