AUGUSTA, GA – For the fifth year in a row, the Columbus State women's soccer team has been selected as the preseason favorite in a poll of Peach Belt Conference coaches released on Wednesday. The Cougars earned eight first-place votes and 108 total points, finishing ahead of second-place Flagler and third-place North Georgia. UNC Pembroke was fourth with Lander fifth, Young Harris sixth and Georgia College seventh. Clayton State, USC Aiken, Francis Marion, Georgia Southwestern and new associate member Albany State rounded out the voting.
Columbus State captured their sixth PBC regular-season championship in a row in 2018, their 12th in the 19-year history of PBC women's soccer. CSU also captured the PBC Tournament title in a penalty kick shootout, their fourth title in the last five years. With a record of 18-1-2, CSU won the NCAA southeast region and advanced to the NCAA National Quarterfinals. Ranked #4 in the nation in the United Soccer Coaches preseason Top 25, CSU returns nine starters from last year including All-Conference selections Riley Clark, Kimmy May, Madeline Goodfellow, Parker Morgan, Michelle Lamorte and Amanda Murphy. Also returning is PBC Tournament MVP Bria Riancho in goal.
Flagler finished in a tie for second in the PBC standings for the first time in school history and reached the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row, advancing to the second round. Finishing 12-4-2 last year, 7-2-1 in conference, the Saints return 14 players and eight starters from last year's team including first-team All-Conference selections Sara Sandberg, Charlene Nowotny, Shannon Matthaei and keeper Sara-Lisa Dubel.
North Georgia finished the 2018 season in a tie for fourth in the league standings, winning six or more conference games for the 10th year in a row. The Nighthawks were second in the PBC in scoring average at 2.75 goals per game and led the league in shots per game. The 2019 team welcomes back 15 players and seven starters from last year, including senior Olivia Dumphy and junior Taylor Malasek, both of whom were named Preseason All-Conference.
The coaches preseason poll is listed below. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own team.
2019 PBC Women's Soccer
Preseason Coaches Poll
|1.||Columbus State (8)||108|
|4.||UNC Pembroke (1)||79|