2017 Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer Preview and Players to Watch

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The 2017 Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer preseason poll has been released. Limestone College will enter the season as the favorite to win the Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer Championship, according to Conference Carolinas coaches.

1. Limestone College: The Saints, who are ranked No. 21 in the 2017 preseason United Coaches national poll, earned 97 points from Conference coaches, including seven first-place votes.

Limestone found itself in the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship field for the second straight year in 2016, posting an 18-2 overall record and 11-0 Conference Carolinas mark. The Saints also captured both the Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament titles in 2016.

Limestone returns a plethora of talent, which is headlined by third team All-America selection Holly Rawcliffe and Conference Carolinas Players of the Year Megan O'Connor (offensive) and Ashton Bowles (defensive).

Players to Watch:

  • *Ashton Bowles (Sr.) - Defender
  • *Megan O'Connor (Jr.) - Forward
  • *Holly Rawcliffe (Jr.) - Midfielder

2. Belmont Abbey College: The Crusaders enter 2017 just three points behind Limestone, earning 94 points and four first-place votes. Belmont Abbey finished second in Conference Carolinas with a 10-1 record in conference and overall 16-3-1 record.

The Crusaders also return a lot of talent in 2017, as All-Conference Carolinas returners include Rachel Coutinho, Sydney Pluhacek and Kooba Richard.

Players to Watch:

  • *Rachel Coutinho (Jr.) - Defender
  • *Sydney Pluhacek (So.) - Midfielder
  • *Kooba Richard (Sr.) - Forward

3. Lees-McRae College: The Bobcats enter this season ranked third with 71 points. Lees-McRae wrapped up 2016 with a 6-5 conference mark, which ranked fourth, and 7-12 overall record.

Alexis Feely, who was an All-Conference Carolinas selection in 2016, was a major part of the Bobcats making a run to last year's Women's Soccer Championship semifinals. She will anchor a strong Lees-McRae defense in 2017, which should challenge for a conference crown.

Players to Watch:

  • Katie Jo Daniel (So.) - Forward
  • *Alexis Feely (Jr.) - Goalkeeper
  • Riley Neese (So.) - Defender

4. Converse College: The Valkyries enter the year with 66 points and a fourth-place ranking. Converse turned in a sixth-place conference finish in 2016 with a 5-6 record while going 9-9-1 overall.

The Valkyries will have All-Conference Carolinas performers Emily Barry and Nicole Doolittle back to control the defense and offense, respectively, making them a team to watch in 2017.

Players to Watch:

  • *Emily Barry (Sr.) - Defender
  • *Nicole Doolittle (Sr.) - Midfielder
  • Sara Dorsett (Sr.) - Midfielder

T5. Barton College: The Bulldogs tallied 60 points and are tied with the Tornado of King in fifth-place to open 2017. Barton finished fifth in the Conference Carolinas standing last season by going 5-5-1 and 6-10-1 overall.

The Bulldogs have improved their conference standing each of the last two seasons. If the trend continues, Barton will be hosting a first round tournament match come playoff time.

Players to Watch:

  • Rebekah Beal (So.) - Midfielder
  • Taylor Doeble (Sr.) - Forward
  • Laisy Scardazzi (Jr.) - Forward

T5. King University: The Tornado tallied 60 points and are tied with the Bulldogs of Barton in fifth-place to open 2017. King went 7-11 overall in 2016 while posting a 5-6 conference mark, which earned them a sixth-place finish.

King lost a lot of All-Conference Carolinas talent from 2016, but it would not be surprising if one of the 2017 players to watch earn all-conference recognition by the end of the year.

Players to Watch:

  • Reagan Dempsey (Sr.) - Midfielder
  • Olivia Drake (Sr.) - Goalkeeper
  • Miranda Smith (Sr.) - Forward

7. University of Mount Olive: The Trojans narrowly enter the season ranked seventh, as they tallied 58 points from Conference coaches. Mount Olive finished eighth in the Conference standings last year with its 4-5-2 record while going 6-6-2 overall.

Players to Watch:

  • Devynn Brennan (Sr.) - Defender
  • Kaylee Larson (Jr.) - Forward
  • Jocelyn Yurchak (Sr.) - Midfielder

8. Southern Wesleyan University: The Warriors collected 37 points and enter the season ranked eighth. Southern Wesleyan finished 2016 with a 2-8-1 conference record and 4-13-1 overall mark.

The 2017 Warriors should be fun to watch with All-Conference Carolinas performer Aline Troyano returning for her senior campaign.

Players to Watch:

  • Rachel Curtis (So.) - Forward
  • Kayla Doyle (Sr.) - Forward
  • *Aline (Lily) Troyano (Sr.) - Midfielder

9. Erskine College: The Fleet collected 25 points from Conference coaches to enter the season ranked ninth. Erskine went 5-12 overall in 2016, which included a 4-7 conference record to finish ninth in the standings.

Players to Watch:

  • Hayden Banks (Jr.) - Midfielder
  • Mikayla Rajcan (Fr.) - Forward
  • Leah Scudder (Fr.) - Forward

10. Chowan University: The Hawks enter their first season as associate members in Conference Carolinas with 19 points and a 10th-place ranking. Chowan posted an 8-6-2 overall record in 2016.

Players to Watch:

  • Olivia Borer (Jr.) - Goalkeeper
  • Mackenzie Imamura (Jr.) - Midfielder
  • Carolina Lucci (Fr.) - Midfielder

11. North Greenville University: The Crusaders close out the 2017 poll with 18 points. North Greenville went 1-9-1 in Conference Carolinas action and 3-13-1 overall in 2016.

Players to Watch:

  • Tori Owens (Sr.) - Defender
  • Jaimie Shutt (Jr.) - Midfielder



*denotes 2016 All-Conference Carolinas selection

 

2017 Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

School (first-place votes) Total
1. Limestone (7) 97
2. Belmont Abbey (4) 94
3. Lees-McRae 71
4. Converse 66
T5. Barton 60
T5. King 60
7. Mount Olive 58
8. Southern Wesleyan 37
9. Erskine 25
10. Chowan 19
11. North Greenville 18

 


Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletics conference made up of 11 teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey College, Converse College, Emmanuel College, Erskine College, King University, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, University of Mount Olive, North Greenville University, and Southern Wesleyan University. Emmanuel College is currently completing the NCAA Membership Process and will be fully competing in league championships in the near future.