Spartans picked to win league, three named Preseason All-SoCon
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – In a narrow vote of the league's 12 head coaches, UNCG's women's soccer team was picked to win its sixth consecutive Southern Conference championship in the preseason poll released by the league office Tuesday. Seniors Kelsey Kearney, Cat Barnekow and Jaimey Etten were selected to the Preseason All-Southern Conference Team.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team or players.
The Spartans, who were the preseason pick for the seventh straight season, picked up seven first-place votes and 112 points in the poll, edging second-place Samford by just one point. The Bulldogs, who fell to UNCG 1-0 in the SoCon Championship title game last season, earned five first-place votes.
The Citadel was third with 89 points, followed by College of Charleston (86), Elon (82), Furman (77), Davidson (69), Western Carolina (46), Appalachian State (42), Wofford (32), Georgia Southern (26) and Chattanooga (20).
The Spartans are led by first-year head coach Steve Nugent and return five starters from last season's 19-2-1 squad, which was ranked as high as No. 10 nationally. UNCG, which has won the SoCon regular-season race in each of the last five seasons, led the league with three student-athletes on the preseason all-conference team.
Etten, a midfielder from Spokane, Wash., had a career year last season, starting 17 of the 19 matches in which she appeared. She was one of six Spartans to score in double figures in 2010, notching 11 points on three goals and five assists, all career highs. She had a goal and an assist in UNCG's won over Chattanooga last season.
A preseason pick at defender, Barnekow was third in the nation and led the SoCon in assists with a career-high 14 last season. The Santa Rosa, Calif., native was a second-team NSCAA/Performance Subaru All-Southeast Region selection and was a first-team All-SoCon honoree. Barnekow also notched career highs in points (22) and goals (four) last season and was the Spartans' third-leading scorer. She is a two-time all-league selection after taking second-team honors as a sophomore.
Kearney, a three-time All-SoCon selection at keeper (first team 2010, 2008), was also a second-team NSCAA/Performance Subaru All-Southeast Region selection last season. The Durham, N.C., native is UNCG's and the SoCon's career leader in goals against average with a 0.61 mark, and needs just seven shutouts this season to become the league's career leader in that category, as well. She set UNCG's career shutouts mark (31) last season, when she matched the single-season school record with 12. Her 0.55 GAA last season was the second-best in school history, trailing only the 0.48 mark she put up as a freshman in 2008.
The Spartans, who host the SoCon Championship on Nov. 4 and 6 at the UNCG Soccer Stadium, open 2011 regular-season play when they welcome Virginia Tech to town Friday for a 7 p.m. start. Admission is free.
2011 Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. UNCG (7) 112
2. Samford (5) 111
3. The Citadel 89
4. College of Charleston 86
5. Elon 82
6. Furman 77
7. Davidson 69
8. Western Carolina 46
9. Appalachian State 42
10. Wofford 32
11. Georgia Southern 26
12. Chattanooga 20
() denotes first-place votes
2011 Women's Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team
F Mariana Garcia, The Citadel
F Martha Hall, Furman
F Donna-Kay Henry, Chattanooga
MF Sarah Schaidle, College of Charleston
MF Rachel Shelnutt, Furman
MF Jaimey Etten, UNCG
MF Michelle Moll, Samford
D Hannah Gmerek, College of Charleston
D Andrea Keller, Elon
D Cat Barnekow, UNCG
GK Kelsey Kearney, UNCG
- UNCG -