FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Christopher Newport was selected as the favorite to repeat as champions in the 2017 Capital Athletic Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll. The Captains, who captured their first-ever CAC Tournament Championship last fall, received seven first-place votes and 78 points to run away with the top spot in the poll.
St. Mary's and Frostburg State each secured first-place votes and finished second and third, respectively, in the rankings. St. Mary's totaled one first-place vote and 66 points, narrowly edging out Frostburg State (64 points; 2 first-place votes) for second.
Mary Washington and Salisbury were deadlocked in fourth place at 56 points, with York rounding out the top six with 43 points.
Penn State Harrisburg finished seventh in the voting at 30 points, followed by Southern Virginia (21 points), Marymount (20 points), and Wesley (16 points).
The 2017 season begins on Friday, Sept. 1, nine of the 10 CAC squads starting their campaigns on opening day. CAC competition begins Sept. 23 and runs through October, with the CAC Championship game slated for Saturday, Nov. 4.
2017 CAC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|1.||Christopher Newport||78 (7)|
|2.||St. Mary's||66 (1)|
|3.||Frostburg State||64 (2)|
|7.||Penn State Harrisburg||30|
Below is a team-by-team preview entering the 2017 campaign:
After capturing the program's first ever CAC Championship, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT will begin defense of their title on Friday, Sept. 1. Under fifth-year head coach Dan Weiler, the Captains won 17 games and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. This year, CNU loses the services of All-American forward Victoria Perry, but returns a talented group that includes five All-Conference, four All-State, and a pair of All-Region selections. The senior class will be anchored by NSCAA All-Region defender Danielle Pratt and the juniors will be led by All-Region midfielder Gabby Gillis. Ten of 11 starters from last year's squad return to the pitch in 2017, including senior goalkeeper Carly Maglio, who played every minute of action in a record-breaking season last year.
Anticipation for the 2017 women's soccer season is high for FROSTBURG STATE as the Bobcats look to take a step forward from last season, which saw the team win 10 games and advance to the CAC Championship game. After a slow start to the 2016 season, Frostburg hit its stride in conference play, closing out the 2016 regular season with five-straight victories. Offensively, Frostburg returns a pair of 2016 All-CAC First Team selections in sophomore Brooke Shehade (forward) and senior Melanie Bell (midfield). The Bobcats also return multiple defenders who played extensively last season, including two All-CAC Second Team selections in seniors Lia Kelly and Alyssa Malanik.
MARY WASHINGTON will return eight starters for the 2017 season including All-CAC selections Corinne Carson and Christina Carlston. Coach Corey Hewson is ecstatic for the season, as he has been impressed so far in preseason with not only the returners, but also the newcomers. The Eagles are hoping that Lizzie Brooks, Christiana Meyers, and Brielle Mitchell can lead the scoring charge.
MARYMOUNT returns five starters at each end of the pitch, all of which are sophomores this season with plenty of experience in a competitive conference. Heading the offensive front are sophomores Karen Reyes and Courtney Stephens who return as the leading point and goal scorers for the squad, totaling five finishes apiece. Reyes, who led the team last year in assists with five, totaled 15 points to finish 12th in the CAC, while Stephens added 11 points. Head Coach Gayle Wilson, who enters her 12th season at the helm, will look to the strength of sophomores Gabby Cabrales and Maddie Alexander to guide the defense. The team welcomes seven new faces as they enter the 2017 campaign.
PENN STATE HARRISBURG head coach Adam Clay enters his fifth season, and will be searching for his first CAC playoff berth. The Lions are led by returning second team All-Conference selection, junior Kristin Stark. The Lion's defense will be anchored by senior goalie Kayla Arnold.
Despite the graduation of two-time CAC Player of the Year Gillian Sawyer, ST. MARY'S is poised to grab the program's second CAC championship title in 2017 as the Seahawks return half of their six All-CAC selections and an influx of strong newcomers. Jenna Pastel (5G, 1A) and Emily Huey (6G, 4A), a first team All-CAC pick, will look to lead young but talented forward and midfield lines, respectively. St. Mary's defensive unit will be anchored by a trio of all-conference selections in Lane Brooks (1G, 1A), Sydney Larkin (0.98 GAA, 0.831 SV%, 6 SHO), and Katie Flores (1.27 GAA, 0.741 SV%, 2 SHO).
SALISBURY begins their 2017-2018 campaign looking to build off a 4-4-1 conference record that proved worthy of a 2016 CAC tournament bid. The team returns seven seniors after losing seven from last year. Most notable of the bunch are Forward Ruthie Lucas, Defender Rachel Anderson and Goalkeeper Hope Knussman. Lucas (2016 CAC All-Academic Team; First-Team All-CAC) will look to continue her dominance offensively after leading the team with 15 points (6 goals; 3 assists) as a junior. Anderson (2016 CAC All-Academic Team), who earned herself CAC Defensive Player of the Week honors last season, will anchor the team's defense and offer senior leadership for a unit comprised mostly of underclassmen. Knussman (2016 CAC All-Academic Team) begins her senior season as the team's starting Goalkeeper after locking down the job in 2016, when she finished tied for 3rd place in the CAC with 70 saves. Two other players worth keeping an eye on are senior Jamie Tacka and junior Jenna Taylor, both team leaders at the midfield position.
Under the direction of second-year head coach Kenzie Cox, SOUTHERN VIRGINIA is poised for a successful season and their first CAC playoff appearance. With five returning starters, Southern Virginia looks to improve from last year's pair of conference wins.
Led by 2016 All-CAC Second Team members junior midfielder Janiah Moore and sophomore forward Aleya Cummings, WESLEY will look to improve on the field in 2017. In 2016, Cummings placed second in the CAC in goals (14) and third in points (30) while Moore tied for ninth in goals (6) and tied for 12th in points (15). Also returning is sophomore midfielder Aline Check, who led the team and finished in a tie for fourth in the CAC in assists (5) a season ago. With juniors Sammy Williams and Kelsey Fitzpatrick helping patrol the backline, the Wolverines will look to make a push towards the playoffs this season.
YORK begins the 2017 season looking to boost an offensive attack and climb the ladder of the CAC standings. The Spartans struggled to score all of last year as they averaged just over 1.3 goals per game during last fall. York was strong defensively as they posted four shutouts and allowed just over 1.5 goals per game. All-CAC forward Maxine Herman returns to the lineup after leading York with 17 points on eight goals and one assist. Caitlin Rankin (12 points) and Georgia Gillcrist (10 points) are York's other two returning double digit scorers for York. Defensively, York relies on seniors Marisa Brisbane, Alexis Munshower, and Kaylyn Watts to lead the way. York has a three-way goalie competition heading into the campaign.