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Armstrong Named Women’s Soccer Preseason Favorite

AUGUSTA, GA – The Armstrong Atlantic State University Pirates have been chosen as the Peach Belt Conference women’s soccer preseason favorite as a poll of the league’s head coaches was released on Monday.  The Pirates were the unanimous choice to repeat as PBC Champions, receiving all 11 available first-place votes for a maximum point total of 121.  Columbus State was second in the voting with 110 while North Georgia was third at 99.  Clayton State, Lander, UNC Pembroke and Georgia College were next in the poll with Flagler, Montevallo, Young Harris, USC Aiken and Georgia Southwestern rounding out the voting.

The Pirates finished the 2011 season with an 18-3-3 record, capturing the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles as well as the NCAA Southeast Region title and earning a first berth into the Final Four, becoming only the second PBC women’s soccer team ever to reach the national semifinals.  For 2012, Armstrong returns 18 players from last season's squad including PBC co-Player of the Year Kristina Pascutti, senior Nadima Skeff and senior Morgan Mitchell, all of whom were named to the preseason All-Conference team.  Armstrong will begin the season ranked #3 in the nation by the NSCAA.

Columbus State reached the PBC Tournament championship game in 2011 and made their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing to the second round before falling in a penalty kick shootout.  The Cougars return 14 players from last season's squad that went 16-4-3 including 2011 co-PBC Player of the Year Kansas Bayly and 2010 co-PBC Player of the Year Stephanie Lowery, both of whom were named PBC preseason All-Conference.  In all, eight starters return to the team including five who have been named All-Region.

North Georgia made history last season with a school record for the most wins, their first NCAA Tournament appearance and first win in the NCAA’s.  The 2011 Saints were 16-3-1, 8-1-1 in conference play and hope to build on that in 2012 with 18 letterwinners and eight starters returning.  Among those returning is junior forward Kelly Penston and senior midfielder Kelsey Martin, both named preseason All-Conference.

The 2012 PBC women’s soccer landscape has undergone some drastic changes from years past.  The league welcomes Young Harris College this season as the 12th women’s soccer program in the league.  YHC is making the transition to the NCAA Division II ranks and will not be eligible to play in the PBC Tournament, however the Mountain Lions will compete for the regular-season championship with and receive full consideration for all PBC awards and honors.  Also new in the PBC is head coach Samantha Snow, who takes over the reins at Georgia Southwestern.

The preseason coaches poll is listed below.  Teams were given 11 points for a first-place vote, 10 for a second and so on.  Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.

Rank

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

11th

Total

1. Armstrong 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 121
2. Columbus State 1 9 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 110
3. North Georgia 0 3 7 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 99
4. Clayton State 0 0 2 4 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 80
5. Lander 0 0 1 5 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 78
6. UNC Pembroke 0 0 1 1 6 1 1 0 1 0 0 73
7. Georgia College 0 0 0 0 2 5 1 0 3 0 0 58
8. Flagler 0 0 0 1 1 2 5 0 1 1 0 57
9. Montevallo 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 0 0 44
10. Young Harris 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 5 3 0 38
11. USC Aiken 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 3 21
12. Georgia Southwestern 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 13