LEBANON, Tenn. - Seven-time defending regular season and conference tournament champion Martin Methodist was a unanimous selection to win another league title in the 2011 TranSouth Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll released this week by the conference office. Information on the preseason poll as well as previews for each team follows.
The RedHawks graduated just two seniors from last year's 13-4-3 club, TSAC Player of the Year Simone Souza and defender Tatiane Alexio, but return keeper Hanit Schwarz and All-American defender Yalu Borbolla. Forward Mor Efraim and midfielder Daniel Sofer, both All-TranSouth selections a year ago, also return for first-year head coach Tyson John.
Lyon College, last season's No. 2 club in the league with a 12-4-1 overall record, was a unanimous choice for second place in 2011 as well behind MMC. The Scots, under first-year head coach Ben Parman, return six starters from last year's club, including Anja Klotzle, the conference's leading goal scorer a year ago with 16. Lyon returns all four starters on the backline as well, including Elizabeth Fuller, Brina Siddiq, Maria Kristjansdottir and Norma Sanchez.
Union University ranked third with 21 points, just ahead of Cumberland University, with Bethel University fifth and Freed-Hardeman sixth in the coaches' vote taken earlier this month.
Union returns 19 letterwinners for seventh-year head coach Brandon Boylan, including Second Team All-TSAC performers Christina Reardon, Whitney Kramer, Sara Weir and Sarah White. Eboni Murphy sat out last season but returns for her senior season as a former all-conference honoree.
Cumberland returns seven starters this season, including All-TranSouth performers Helena Dimantas Farias, Morgan Shaffer and Michelle Ward. TSAC Freshman of the Year Reneé LaRose will miss the 2011 campaign after tearing her ACL during the summer, while three freshmen will battle for time in the net - Lindsay Kitson, Elizabeth Surdam and Taylor Knight.
Bethel did not graduate any seniors from last year's club that struggled with injuries to key players most of the season. Twelfth-year head coach Misty Aird returns stalwarts Tori Barraco, Rachel Rathbone, Kelly-Jade Whelan, Victoria Musyoki and Morgan Keitel as well as Jessica Coates in net, who had 124 saves last year.
Freed-Hardeman set a program record for wins in a season in 2010, finishing 10-6-3 overall. With eight starters and the majority of the team's offensive production returning, FHU hopes to continue to build on the successes of last season. Junior Whitney Newby returns as the team's top point scorer (eight goals, 10 assists) in 2010 and will be joined by returning all-conference selections Briley Collins and Julie Bracknell.
2011 TranSouth Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
No. School Points (First place votes)
1. Martin Methodist 36 (6)
2. Lyon College 30
3. Union Univ. 21
4. Cumberland Univ. 19
5. Bethel Univ. 12
6. Freed-Hardeman 8
7. Trevecca Nazarene NA
The Bethel Lady Wildcat soccer squad looks to rebound from an injury-filled and disappointing 2010 season. The Lady ‘Cats finished 3-14-0 last year, 2-4-0 in TranSouth Conference action. Key players missed significant time throughout the 2010 campaign with injuries. Despite the 2-4-0 record in conference action last year, Bethel has a remarkable 22-8-3 mark in league play since 2006.
Bethel returns several key players from a squad which did not lose a single senior from the 2010 team. Juniors Tori Barraco, Rachel Rathbone, Kelly-Jade Whelan, Victoria Musyoki and Morgan Keitel all return for 12th-year head coach Misty Aird. Senior Kenya Charles will provide leadership and return for her final season as a Lady Wildcat.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Coates, who had 124 saves last year, is back in net for BU as well. Newcomer Kristen Large, a junior transfer from Bluefield College, is expected to seeing playing time. Other new faces include Ariel Morris, Brooke Conner and Kelcie Donegan.
Along with an always tough conference schedule, the Lady ‘Cats face a difficult nonconference slate with the likes of the University of the Cumberlands, Lindenwood University, McKendree University, Webber International and Campbellsville University.
Aird commented on the upcoming season, "We are excited about the year. We did not lose any seniors from our squad and we return several players who are healthy after injuries last year. Our young ladies have been working hard and we anticipate a great season."
Nine Bethel players were named NAIA Scholar-Athletes last year, including Musyoki, Rathbone, Whelan, Barraco, Deslyan Langeigne, Karissa Ware, Nikki Bivens, Allison Duke and Morgan Keiser all excelled in the classroom.
Second-year Cumberland head coach Gavin McKinney guided his club to nine victories in 2010, the most for the Bulldogs since 2005, and CU returns seven starters this season, including All-TranSouth performers Helena Dimantas Farias, Morgan Shaffer and Michelle Ward.
TSAC Freshman of the Year Reneé LaRose will miss the 2011 campaign after tearing her ACL during the summer, a very important defensive cog for the Bulldogs last season. Ward, a sophomore, and senior Siobhan Morales along with junior Simone Quinn, who spent the final month of 2010 as an emergency keeper, should man the backline along with freshman Mackenzie Keele.
Dimantas Farias, a senior, junior Shaffer and sophomore Rhianne Parsons formed perhaps the conference's most prolific scoring trio last season, combining for 31 goals and 21 assists. Dimantas Farias led the league in points (39) and assists (13), netting 13 goals, scoring in 15 of the club's 17 matches. Shaffer and Parsons both recorded nine goals with Parsons adding six assists for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore Candice Ray started all 17 matches in the midfield for CU last year and should again man the middle along with several newcomers, including freshman Kaitlin Phillips and Stephanie Twardowski. Freshman Shauna Gilpin should see action up front as well.
Three freshmen will battle for time in the net - Lindsay Kitson, Elizabeth Surdam and Taylor Knight.
The Freed-Hardeman Lady Lions bounced back from a two-win season in 2009 to set a new program record for wins in season in 2010, finishing the season with a 10-6-3 record. With eight starters and the majority of the team's offensive production returning, FHU hopes to continue to build on the successes of last season.
There will be a big gap left in goal after the graduation of three-time all-conference selection Tiffany Harris and in the back row after the graduation of two-time all-conference defender Nikki Ceeney.
Head Coach Jason Elliott, entering his 11th season at the helm of the program, will look for production from freshmen Haley Barr and Demmie Guinn and returning players Brittny Johnson and Clare Gallagher on defense. Junior Alyssa Resmini, a two-year starter, will miss some time at the start of the season due to injury. Sophomore Abbey Adkins and senior Olivia Poteete are the two primary options to be in goal.
While there are some question marks in the back, there are few in the midfield and up top, with five of the six starters from last season returning. Junior Whitney Newby was the team's top point scorer (eight goals, 10 assists) in 2010 and will be joined by returning all-conference selections Briley Collins and Julie Bracknell as well as Shelby Murray and Katie Hillis. Freshmen Melissa Johnson and Becky Marks will also compete for time, as will sophomore Morgan Walls and senior Elizabeth Blanton.
FHU will play a home-heavy schedule this season, with 11 of its 18 matches played at the Josh Riley Soccer Complex, including nine straight from Sept. 2 through Oct. 4. The season opens on the road at Brescia University on August 27.
First-year head coach Ben Parman returns 14 letterwinners and six starters from last season's 12-4-1 club that finished second in the TranSouth and reached the title game of the TranSouth Championships.
Senior Anja Klotzle led the TranSouth and ranked 29th nationally in goals with 16. The Altadena, Calif., native netted four game-winning goals last season for the Scots and ranked in the Top 50 nationally in seven individual categories.
Creeia Nuckols, who played in all 17 matches but came off the bench almost exclusively, added six goals.
Lyon returns all four starters on the backline, including Elizabeth Fuller, Brina Siddiq, Maria Kristjansdottir and Norma Sanchez, as well as striker Jordan Kalei Aliviado. Brianna Forbis also saw significant action off the bench last season for the Scots and should play an even bigger role in 2011.
Parman must replace keeper Erica Cox, who made 60 saves and ranked fifth nationally in goals-against-average at 0.46. Stephanie Spiteri, a freshman from Hayward, Calif., will look to fill Cox's shoes in goal.
Also gone is the team's leader is assists from 2010, Katie Marshall, who handed out five helpers last year, and Cethlin Cunningham, the team's third-leading goal scorer with four.
Parman has added a pair of Western Texas Junior College transfers, midfielder Melissa Sanchez and defender Lea Pascal, as well as Harrison, Ark., native Chander Rae, who will join the attack as a winger or forward.
Martin Methodist women's soccer will strive to continue their dominance in the TranSouth Conference in 2011 following seven consecutive TranSouth regular season and tournament championships. The RedHawks look to retain their consistency as a powerhouse in the NAIA under the direction of first-year head coach Tyson John. John is no stranger to the TranSouth and will inherit a strong returning group along with his own additions that make up an impressive recruiting class.
The RedHawks finished 2010 with a 13-4-3 mark and a spotless 6-0-0 league record. After earning their seventh consecutive bid to the NAIA National Tournament, MMC fell to unseeded Baker University in the second round of a tournament that saw 10 total upsets.
MMC graduated just two seniors, but will feel the losses of midfielder Simone Souza, TSAC Player of the Year, and defender Tatiane Alexio, the only remaining players from the 2007 national championship team.
However, senior keeper Hanit Schwarz and All-American defender Yalu Borbolla make up a tough defense that will compliment an always potent offense that includes forward Mor Efraim and midfielder Daniel Sofer, both All-TSAC selections last season.
Among the incoming talent are expected midfield contributors, freshmen Gabrielle Macis and Linnea Sahlia. Looking to combine with an already threatening offense, freshman forward Monica Ayala will come to MMC after spending a redshirt season at Division I St. John's University.
Coach John will add energy and TranSouth experience to his coaching staff with new assistant and MMC alum Chris McBride, who recently finished four seasons playing for the RedHawks men's program. The RedHawks convene in 2011 with a home exhibition with NCAA Division II North Alabama on August 27th, followed by their regular season opener at home with Oklahoma Baptist on August 31.
The 2011 Union University women's soccer team will once again look to compete for a conference title. Union posted an overall record of 9-7-2 last season and a conference record of 2-3-1. Union finished third in the league and has been as high as second in the six-year history of the program.
Union head coach Brandon Boylan says, "The coaching staff is excited for the new season. The incoming freshmen have brought a high level of play into our program. With the returning players dedicated to their fitness and having a better understanding of the demands of the college game, we look to be an improved team from last year."
Union has a large group of returning players. Nineteen players return from last year from either varsity or reserve team roles. Twelve of the returning players started at some point on the varsity team. Union lost five players from last season's team that started at some point. However, Boylan will take 15 newcomers and fill voids as he works to build this team.
The senior class is made up of four players, including Terilyn Wassell, Bridget Roney, Christina Reardon and Eboni Murphy. Reardon was selected Second Team All-TranSouth last season. Murphy sat out last season, but returns for her senior season as a former all-conference player.
Eight juniors complete the list of upperclassmen. They include Sara Weir, Christina Brimm, Whitney Kramer, Steffi King, Sarah White, Natalie Stallings, Kelsey Gilbert and Elizabeth Cochran. Kramer, Weir and White were all named Second Team All-TranSouth last season.
The sophomore class is also made up of eight players. They include Emily Warren, Emily Crane, Meghan Roney, Nicole Sheffield, Ashley Zidan, Sarah Helton, Dionna Linn and Rachael Boswell. Only Helton is a newcomer on this list, as the other seven are back for their second seasons.
The freshman class is the largest class with 14 players. They include Rainy Rasmussen, Mallory Wilson, Kelsey Graeter, Alex Taylor, Rebecca McDonough, Ashlie Watson, Kay Morgan, Sara Johnson, Karli Schumaker, Bethany Stiles, Whitney Moskovitz, Eliza Clark, Brittney Presley and Megan Jay. These players will hope to impact the success of the program and be able to push this program to a higher level over the next four years.
Trevecca Nazarene coach Brett Armstrong enters his fifth season with just two seniors and eight newcomers to the program. Coach Armstrong says, "The leadership of our senior captains, Heather Halstead and Justine Forth, will be the key to the success of this year's squad."
The two senior midfielders will be looking to lead this year's team to new heights. Halstead continues to climb the program's all-time rankings, currently sitting sixth in points (33) and fifth in goals scored (14), having appeared in 51 career matches. Forth provides stability, leadership and playmaking to the Trojans' midfield and has added three goals and six assists for 12 points in 51 career appearances.
With a roster balanced by way of seven freshmen, seven sophomores and seven juniors, there is experienced depth to go along with an infusion of new talent to the program. A big part of that depth and experience is in the back line.
Worley, a junior from Maumee, Ohio, earned Second Team All-TranSouth honors last season. She will be joined in the back by junior Jessica Porter and sophomores Audrey Robinson and Lanie Foutch.
Bench depth will be provided by sophomores Erica Carroll, Mackenzie Cox and Aubrey Black, as well as incoming freshmen Mandy Nuckols and Jordan Ponto.
Guarding the net will be a trio of keepers, giving the team depth at a crucial position.
"Bekah Headrick is returning from a shoulder injury that forced her to miss most of last season," says Coach Armstrong. "She'll be challenged by junior Neira Ahmespahic and incoming freshman Kathleen Farris."
The midfield is a strength, with returning talent and a solid group of new faces. Coach Armstrong says, "Heather, Justine and Kayla VanEs will lead a strong midfield, along with returning starter Lindsey Robinson on the outside."
VanEs, a junior, led the team in scoring last season with six goals and 13 points and is already in the top 10 in TNU women's soccer history in both categories.
Fellow junior Lindsey Robinson scored a pair of goals in her first season. Depth in the midfield will be provided by junior Taylor Beaulieu, sophomore Audra Fullen and incoming freshman Chelsea Abney along with the freshman tandem of Ryan Alosi and Hannah Squires, who are both from Ooltewah, Tenn., and played prep soccer together at Silverdale Baptist Academy, the alma mater of current Trojan Erica Carroll.
Newcomers who can provide offensive firepower are sophomore Brittany Wilkerson, a prolific scorer in high school who scored a goal in just three appearances as a freshman for Lee University last year. Freshmen Brooke Gann and Alex Hammond will also be counted on to make contributions.