SPARTANBURG, S.C. - UNC Greensboro's women's soccer team was picked to win the Southern Conference in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, the league announced Wednesday. Lauren Lopez, Kristin Player and Nicole Danford were named to the Preseason All-Southern Conference Team.
The three-time defending regular-season champion Spartans received seven first-place votes to garner 114 points in the preseason poll. UNCG, which won the league last season with a 10-0-1 regular-season record (16-4-3 overall), edged 2008 SoCon tournament winner Western Carolina, who was second with 107 points and three first-place votes. Samford, which handed UNCG its lone draw, was third with 101 points and one first-place vote. College of Charleston picked up the remaining first-place vote and finished sixth with 77 points.
UNCG and Western led the league with three preseason picks each. Lopez, a senior defender for the Spartans, is a two-time All-Southern Conference selection, as she took second-team distinction in 2007 before nabbing a spot on the first team in 2008. Lopez was an integral part of a defense that posted 12 shutouts and allowed just a 0.79 goals against average last season. The Concord, N.C., native was also an All-Southeast Region third-team pick by Soccer Buzz in 2008.
Player, a junior forward, was the 2007 SoCon Freshman of the Year and a first-team selection that season. The Placentia, Calif., native was the Spartans' second-leading scorer with 18 points on seven goals and four assists last season. Player was in the top 10 in the league in goals, goals per game (0.37), points and points per game (0.95) in 2008.
Danford, a sophomore midfielder, was a second-team All-SoCon selection last year, also earning a spot on the inaugural Southern Conference All-Freshman Team. The Cary, N.C., native was fourth on the team in scoring with 16 points on four goals and eight assists and scored the game-winning goal in UNCG's 1-0 upset of No. 15 Santa Clara last season.
The Spartans enter play in 2009 undefeated in their last 31 SoCon regular-season games, going 29-0-2 in winning the last three regular-season titles. UNCG returns three 2008 first-team all-conference selections in Lopez, senior midfielder Jen Bronson and sophomore keeper Kelsey Kearney.
Three-time Southern Conference Coach of the Year Eddie Radwanski's squad opens the 2009 season this Sunday, Aug. 23, when it hosts Wake Forest at the UNCG Soccer Stadium at 8 p.m.
2009 Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. UNC Greensboro (7) 114
2. Western Carolina (3) 107
3. Samford (1) 101
4. Furman 87
5. Davidson 86
6. College of Charleston (1) 77
7. Elon 60
8. Appalachian State 47
9. Wofford 40
10. Georgia Southern 37
11. Chattanooga 23
12. The Citadel 13
( ) Denotes first-place votes
2009 Women's Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team
F Kyri Bye-Nagel, Davidson
F Martha Hall, Furman
F Kristin Player, UNC Greensboro
F Amber Cress, Samford
MF Sara El-Shami, Furman
MF Nicole Danford, UNC Greensboro
MF Shanna Schmoker, Western Carolina
D Brittany Schneider, College of Charleston
D Lauren Lopez, UNC Greensboro
D Jenny Matteson, Western Carolina
GK Caitlin Williams, Western Carolina
- UNCG -