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Women's Soccer - Tue, Aug. 25, 2009
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BATESVILLE, Ark. - For the fifth consecutive season, the Martin Methodist RedHawks captured both the TranSouth Conference regular season and tournament crowns, and judging from the 2009 TranSouth Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll, that trend is favored to continue through a sixth year.

Martin Methodist received all seven first-place votes in the conference's preseason poll and was ranked No. 5 nationally in the first NAIA Top 25 rankings of the season. Bethel was also ranked No. 23 in the NAIA Preseason Top 25 rankings.


The NAIA Top 25 preseason poll can be found here.


Bethel University, last year's conference-tournament finalist and regular-season runner-up, was a unanimous choice for second place in the conference preseason poll with 65 points. The Lady Wildcats of Bethel were followed by Lyon College in third with 53 points, Union University in fourth (51), Trevecca Nazarene finished fifth (39), Freed-Hardeman was sixth (36) and Cumberland placed seventh (30).



2009 WOMEN'S SOCCER PRE-SEASON COACHES POLL
(rank-team-total points, first place votes in parentheses)


1.  
Martin Methodist (7)      
70
2.
Bethel University
65
3.
Lyon College
53
4.
Union University
51
5.
Trevecca Nazarene
39
6.
Freed-Hardeman
36
7.
Cumberland University
30


TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS
listed in order of predicted finish in coaches poll


MARTIN METHODIST REDHAWKS

Head Coach Gerry Cleary returns for his 7th season at the helm of the RedHawks dominating Women's Soccer program. He and the RedHawks look to stay on top of the TranSouth Athletic Conference having gone undefeated in TSAC play, taking home the TranSouth Regular Season and TranSouth Tournament Titles the last five years in a row.

Martin Methodist had made it to the NAIA Women's Soccer National Tournament the last five years and they won the title in 2005 and 2007. In 2008 the RedHawks were defeated in the semi-finals of the National Tournament by state rival Lee University who eventually went on to win the title.

The RedHawks will return players who have been proven champions. NAIA All-American and TranSouth All-Conference forward Shannon Walter returns for another run at a championship in her final year playing for Martin Methodist.  NAIA All-American and TranSouth All-Conference goalkeeper Hanit Schwarz returns for her second season in goal with the RedHawks. Forward Nicole O'Donnell also a TranSouth Conference First Team selection returns for her second season with the RedHawks.  Juniors Tatiane Alexio and Simone Souza return anchoring Martin Methodist's backfield.

With the right combination of the returning players as well as Coach Cleary's new recruits Martin Methodist should once again prove to be a top team in the TranSouth and the NAIA.



BETHEL UNIVERSITY LADY WILDCATS

After an uncharacteristic 2008 season finishing with a 9-7-2 record, the Lady Wildcats look to rebound in 2009.  Bethel's tradition was recognized in the NAIA pre-season poll with the Lady ‘Cats garnering the #23 spot.  With Misty Aird entering her ninth season at the helm sporting a 134-50-8 record, the team should feel confident coming into the season.

Bethel loses six seniors from last year's team and will look for leadership in the six seniors on the team this season; Tashana Taylor, TranSouth First Team All-Conference Marika Fukuta, Carla Chambers, TSAC Second Team All-Conference Kimmarley Chin, TSAC First Team All-Conference Jordan Nuffer and Candace Solcido.

The team has eleven newcomers from four different counties that will look to provide immediate impacts.  The Lady Wildcats will be tested all season and will play four pre-season top 25 teams.  On August 29, 2009 they will play #20 Ohio Dominican University at home, on September 12, they host #11 William Carey College (Miss.), October 9, against #5 Martin Methodist in McKenzie, Tenn. and will conclude the regular season at #24 Lindenwood University (Mo.).



LYON COLLEGE PIPERS

Lyon College ended 2008 with another record-breaking campaign, a 15-5-2 overall mark and a 4-1-1 slate in the TranSouth. The Pipers advanced to the TranSouth Tournament semifinals for the second straight time in school history and had their third straight winning season.

The 2009 season brings plenty of promise, but also a fair share of changes.

Chris McNaughton, the man who turned Lyon around from a downtrodden program (8-40 before his arrival) into a proven winner (34-19-3 in three seasons as head coach), left for an assistant coach's job with NCAA Division I Arkansas-Little Rock in the offseason. But before he left, he handed the reins to an energetic, first-year head coach in the form of Tyson John.

First-team all-conference forward Katy Smith and second-team all-conference forward Anja Klotzle are back and return almost 40 percent of the Pipers' scoring up front.

John also expects contributions and possible breakout years from Amber Mathieson, Jordan Kalei Aliviado and Heather Martinez as well as a big-time season from goalkeeper Erica Cox, who started in three games a played in three more in '08 without allowing a single goal in 355 minutes of play.

Transfers Jacqui Ragsdale (Sussex Community College in N.J.), Katie Marshall (Santiago Canyon CC in Calif.) and Sara Merker (Waubonsee CC in Ill.) could all be counted on immediately while any of the other 10 incoming freshmen could easily find playing time on a deep squad.



UNION UNIVERSITY LADY BULLDOGS

The 2009 season for the Union University women's soccer program begins with great expectations. Twelve seniors will look to lead this team in hopes of claiming their first conference title in the short five-year history of the program. However, the task will not be easy as head coach Brandon Boylan will face his toughest schedule yet in 2009. Two teams from the NAIA National Tournament's final eight are on the schedule.

"We are a very experienced team with 12 seniors", says Boylan.  "However, we are excited about the talent we see in the freshmen class and look for a big impact from many of them."

Of the 12 seniors, seven started for Union last season as juniors. Leading the way is Union's only NAIA All-American in women's soccer history, Caitlin Zimmerman. She led Union with 17 goals and six assists on the season. Laura Pla returns in goal after recorded 66 saves and posting a .942 GAA in 2008. Zimmerman and Pla were both all-conference players in 2008. Candice Blackard was second on the team with seven goals in 2008.



TREVECCA NAZARENE LADY TROJANS

As Brett Armstrong begins his fourth season at the helm of the Trevecca women's soccer program he can see the improvement beginning to reveal itself in the play of his team. Much of that is coming from the secondary leadership from this year's senior class, his first recruiting class.
 
Seniors Amy Maslyn, Kassie Evick, Allison Caselenuovo, Brittany Argabright, and Jessi Fallen will be a key to this season. They combine to provide strong goal tending defense and scoring power.
 
They have been a consistent force in bringing the program to a new level of respect in conference play. This year, they hope to lead the program to new heights never seen and level a new standard for Trevecca women's soccer.
 
Preparing for the conference requires a tough pre-conference schedule and Armstrong has set that up for his team this season,  "The Non-Conference schedule includes some very good and developed teams which should help our players progress and grow. Playing teams like North Alabama which is NCAA DII and strong NAIA teams makes every game a tough competitive game."

Fourteen players are returning with four juniors backing up the five seniors to set a strong leadership core on this year's roster. Aubree Thomas, Danyelle Martin, Chelsea Bell, and Ana Hill will provide supporting leadership and skill to this year's team.
 
The sophomore class has six players returning after a strong initial campaign on campus last year. Konstance Deering, Carissa Ulmet, Justine Forth, Heather Halstead, Lauren Davis, and Megan Arnett all provided key contributions last year and will be asked to step their play up in their second season.
 
The freshman class is six strong and will be looked to for contributions this season. Bekah Headrick, Jessica Porter, Hope Hackney, Kayla VanEs, Taylor Beaulieu, and Kate Worley will need to contribute this season for the Trojans to reach their goal of post season success.



FREED-HARDEMAN LADY LIONS

The Freed-Hardeman Lady Lion soccer team heads into 2009 coming off a record season, but a lot of production from that squad will need to be replaced.

In 2008, FHU won a school-record nine matches due in large part to the play of goalkeeper Tiffany Harris, who set a program record with 173 saves and a save percentage of 86.9 percent on her way to being named to the all-conference team.  Harris, a junior, returns to the field as does classmate Nikki Ceeney, who anchored the defense from her sweeper position.

Leanne Harbach, Lindsay Riggs, and Holly Bishop also return to the defense.

However, graduation took away from the front line with leading scorers Stephanie Fields and Lori Walker gone.  Ninth-year head coach Jason Elliott will look to sophomores Julie Bracknell and Helena Yegros, both of whom scored four goals last year, to help pick up the slack.

Elliott also welcomes eight freshmen to the team with Rachel Conley and Alyssa Resmini expected to help out on defense.  Whitney Newby, Briley Collins, and Shelby Murray will look to add depth to the midfield and forward spots.



CUMBERLAND UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS
Third-year head coach Jeff Loucks welcomes seven newcomers and eight returning letterwinners to this year's club, which hopes to improve on last season's four victories and continue an upward trend in the program since Loucks' arrival.
 
The Bulldogs lost last season's top point scorer and Second Team All-TranSouth selection Angela Sheehan to graduation, but sophomore Helena Dimantas Farias returns after netting five goals and eight assists in starting all 14 matches in 2008. Dimantas Farias was also a Second Team All-TSAC honoree last season for CU.
 
No other Bulldog players scored more than two goals last year when the club netted just 21 as a team.
 
Cumberland must also break-in a new keeper in 2009. Freshman Jessica West started all 14 matches last season, allowing 43 goals.
 
Freshmen Louise Norton (Gold Coast, Australia) and Simone Quinn (Hereford, England) along with speedster Morgan Shaffer will have great opportunities to contribute offensively early, while defenders Mandie Crispin and Ashley Schneider will be asked to help shore up the defense as well.