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Women's Soccer - Tue, Aug. 17, 2010
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For the past six seasons, the Martin Methodist RedHawks have dominated championship play in the TranSouth Conference. The RedHawks have won six consecutive regular-season titles and six tournament championships in a row.


The TranSouth Conference coaches believe that dominance might continue, naming MMC as the overwhelming preseason favorite in the 2010 Coaches' Poll.


Martin Methodist was named on all seven ballots as the number one team and earned 70 points in the voting.

The next three teams in the field were bunched together in the poll as Union University earned runner-up status with 58 points, Lyon College picked up a third-place nod with 56 points and Bethel University was fourth with 54 points.


Cumberland was named in fifth place with 39 points, Trevecca Nazarene was sixth with 37 points and Freed-Hardeman rounded out the seven-team league with 29 points.

 

The NAIA Top 25 is scheduled to be released today and can be found here.



2010 PRESEASON WOMEN'S SOCCER COACHES' POLL
(rank-team-total points, first place votes in parentheses)


1.
 Martin Methodist (7)
 70
2.
 Union University
 58
3.
 Lyon College
 56
4.
 Bethel University
 54
5.
 Cumberland University
 39
6.
 Trevecca Nazarene
 37
7.
 Freed-Hardeman
 29


TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS
(listed in order of finish in coaches poll)


MARTIN METHODIST REDHAWKS

In seven seasons as the head of Martin Methodist's women's soccer program, Head Coach Gerry Cleary has boasted six consecutive TranSouth Regular Season and TranSouth Tournament Titles including the 2009 honors. Last season, MMC remained undefeated in TranSouth Athletic Conference play, with a 5-0-1 TSAC record.


After finishing last season ranked sixth in the NAIA Women's Soccer poll, Cleary looks to guide his RedHawks to their seventh NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship appearance as he begins his eighth season at MMC. The two-time National Champions (2005, 2007) fell in the quarterfinals in both 2008 and 2009 to rival Lee University who went on to take back-to-back National titles, and will look to avenge those losses in 2010.


The RedHawks return NAIA All-American and TranSouth Freshman of the Year, defender Yalu Borbolla, alongside TranSouth All-Conference selections forward Nicole O'Donnell, midfielders Daniel Sofer and Simone Souze, defender Tatiane Alexo, and goalkeeper Hanit Schwarz.


Looking to remain a perennial power in the NAIA, Coach Cleary has brought in Martin Methodist's biggest recruiting class of 16 total players to make immediate impact for the RedHawks. MMC women's soccer opens their season on August 26 at home against the University of Mobile, and will face six of 2009's final Top 25 teams throughout the season. A match against reigning champion Lee University highlights MMC's home schedule on September 11.


 


UNION UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS

In 2010, Union will be replacing a class of 12 seniors, seven of which started for Union over their careers. A key part of that class of graduates is the program's only NAIA All-American and holder of numerous program records, Caitlin Zimmerman Courtner. 


"We are a young team this year with 25 of the 37 on the roster being freshman and sophomores", says coach Boylan. "However for the second year in a row we feel really good about the contribution that the freshman class could make depending on their transition to the college game."

The senior class of 2010 is made up of eight players, seven of which are returning. Samantha Gase was second team all-conference last season as a defender. Eboni Murphy led Union with nine goals and was a first team all-conference player.


Three players fill the junior class led by second team all-conference player Bridjet Roney.

The second largest class on the roster is the sophomores with 11 players. Sara Weir returns as a first team all-conference defender. Steffi King is back after leading Union with four assists last season to go along with her five goals.


The freshman class is the largest with 13 players that will be starting their college soccer careers with the Lady Bulldogs of Union.

Boylan says, "We are playing another tough non-conference schedule to prepare us for the demands of playing in the TranSouth conference. I expect the conference to be better from top to bottom. All of the conference teams will be improved from last year."


Union has two matches with teams that finished in the NAIA top 10 in 2009, including William Carey (Miss.) at #3 and Martin Methodist at #6. Union also plays Asbury (Ky.) who was receiving votes in 2009 and advanced to the NAIA National tournament, along with William Carey and Martin Methodist. Union will also face off against three NCAA DII opponents.




LYON COLLEGE SCOTS

The Lyon College Scots women's soccer team notched their fourth consecutive winning season in 2009 and won 10 games for the third time in the last four years en route to a spectacular 10-2-2 campaign - a school record for winning percentage. The Scots were also TranSouth Conference semifinalists for the third straight time, losing to eventual conference champions Martin Methodist.


In 2010, Lyon has plenty of returning ammo to load up their offensive firepower and have added key pieces to upgrade their already impressive offense.


"We can score," said Lyon College second-year head coach Tyson John, "that's for sure. This season we're going to be even stronger in our philosophy to maintain possession of the ball with strong returners who already implement this philosophy and all of our newcomers who subscribe to it, as well."


The potent Lyon offense revolves around the triple threat of all-conference scorers Katie Marshall, Anja Klotzle and Katy Smith. All three have the ability to find the open player in space and all three have the ability to finish on their own.


Defensively and in the midfield, Lyon has the potential to be just as tough for opposing offenses with three returnees and five talented newcomers. Goalkeeper Erica Cox, all-conference midfielder Kristin Maas and defender Liz Fuller make up three key returning members. Maria Kristjansdottir (University of Iceland), Koryn Najera (American River College), Creeia Nuckols (West Texas College) and Brina Siddiq (Newport Beach, Calif.) are expected to make an immediate splash as newcomers.


Lyon kicks off the regular season on Aug. 28th at home against Louisiana State-Shreveport.





BETHEL UNIVERSITY WILDCATS

The Bethel University Lady Wildcats were ever so close last season to reaching double digit wins. Five matches ended in ties, with the Lady Cats being on the verge of wining all of those games. Bethel finished 6-6-5 overall and 3-1-2 in conference play.


Bethel will need to replace three All-Conference seniors from last year. Jordan Nuffer, Marika Fukuta, and Chin Kimmarley were all integral parts of the squad.


Coach Misty Aird enters her twelfth season as head coach of the Lady Cats. She has a career mark of 143-54-11. She will depend on several returners to set the stage for a successful year for the team. Junior Morgan Keitel, sophomores, Tori Barraco, Rachel Rathbone, and Cayla Avila return to lead the team.

Top newcomers include Melissa Madden (Lindsay Wilson), Kenya Charles (Mars Hill), Jay Tye, and Deyslan Langaigne.


Coach Aird commented on the season. "As always, we face a tough schedule, with several Top 25 teams. We are very young and will need to stay focused early to gain our confidence. The conference will be tough as usual. We are excited about our returners and newcomers. If they all work hard it could be special season."



CUMBERLAND UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS

Cumberland first-year head coach Gavin McKinney returns nine letterwinners and has brought in 11 newcomers for the 2010 campaign as the Bulldogs look to improve on their sixth-place regular season finish from a year ago.


McKinney is no stranger to the TranSouth, playing collegiately at Lambuth University, where he graduated in 2005, before spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Bethel University. Cumberland has no seniors on the roster and a big mixture of players with some experience to go with a bevy of newcomers who are expected to contribute heavily.


Junior Helena Dimantas Farias, a Second Team All-TSAC selection two years ago who scored 11 goals last season, second most in the conference, will be the focal point of the Bulldog offense again this year. Returning starters Rachel Scoggins, Morgan Shaffer and Simone Quinn will all factor heavily into McKinney's plans for the year.


"We will be fairly young pretty much all over the field," McKinney said. "We have a good group of incoming players who should really push our returners and hopefully in turn, that will provide some depth for our squad."


Transfer Hanna Sparks, a standout at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., is the only keeper on the roster. Sparks has not played soccer the last two years while attending East Tennessee State University.

Cumberland opens the season at the Golden Corral Classic in Barbourville, Ky., facing Union College and the University of the Cumberlands on August 27-28.




TREVECCA NAZARENE TROJANS

Trevecca women's soccer coach Brett Armstrong is ready to take another step forward in the TranSouth standings with his fourth Trojan team. "We've built the program to the middle-of-the-conference team, and we're looking to compete with the top teams in the conference," says Armstrong.

Armstrong is optimistic for the move with quality returners. "We've got a good nucleus returning, a balanced team with a lot of quality players, the key is going to be how well we play together."

Senior captain Aubree Thomas, who had four goals and five assists last season, will lead the way for the Trojans this season, both on and off the field. "She's steady and hard-working," says Armstrong. Junior midfielders, Heather Halstead (7G, 4A) and Justine Forth (1G, 2A), will supply leadership as well. "Heather needs to score goals for us to be successful while Justine is our playmaker; she sees the field really well." Sophomore striker Kayla VanEs (6G, 3A), is "a really good finisher," says Armstrong.

Eight of the 10 new Trojans are from Tennessee; Neira Ahmespahic (Nashville), Joanna Aluoch (Lebanon), Aubrey Black (Franklin), Erica Carroll (Chattanooga), Mackenzie Cox (Hendersonville), Lanie Foutch (Hendersonville), Audra Fullen (Brentwood), and Rachel Mayes (Nashville). The other two (Audrey Robinson and Lindsey Robinson) are from Atlanta, Ga.

"We'll count on several freshmen to see quite a bit of playing time," says Armstrong. Midfielders, Mayes and Fullen, will help the attack. "Rachel is aggressive and fast; she comes from a strong program,' says Armstrong. "Audra has speed and could develop into a dangerous threat." A trio of defenders-Black, Carroll, and Audrey Robinson-will add some depth to the backline. "Audrey has played high level club soccer and should solidify the back while Erica and Aubrey give us physical presence."




FREED-HARDEMAN LADY LIONS
It is rare where a team returns all its starters from the previous season, but that is the situation that exists for the Freed-Hardeman Lady Lion soccer team as the 2009 season begins.

The 2008 squad had no seniors on the roster and while a handful of players did not return from that team, the core group of players will return to the field this season. Last year, the Lady Lions went 2-13-2 but were saddled with injuries for the majority of the season causing five starters to miss significant time.

Leading the way will be returning captains and all-conference selections Tiffany Harris (149 saves) and Nikki Ceeney (six goals). The rest of the senior class - Lindsay Riggs, Cassie Perkins and Leanne Harbach - have all been starters at various points in their careers. Other key returnees include midfielders Whitney Newby (six goals, two assists), Briley Collins and Julie Bracknell; forwards Helena Yegros and Shelby Murray; and defenders Alyssa Resmini and Rachel Conley.

Newcomers Clare Gallagher, Katie Hillis, Morgan Walls and Jodi Curtis are all expected to add depth and could vie for starting roles in the midfield and defense.

The season opens with a long road trip with a total of seven matches (including two exhibitions) being played before the home opener against Lambuth (Tenn.) University on Sept. 3 as part of the annual Lions Cup Invitational.