The Southern Conference title race was hotly contested by four teams last season, and 2015 could be more of the same as the team’s get ready to do battle.
PRESEASON CONFERENCE RANKINGS
|173||East Tennessee State|
COACH: Todd Yelton (13th year)
2014 RECORD: 14-8-0, (7-2-0, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: JR./FOR. Jermaine Seoposenwe
OUTLOOK: The Bulldogs finished the 2014 season as regular-season SoCon champions, with five players earning All-SoCon honors and head coach Todd Yelton being named the SoCon Coach of the Year. Among the team’s 14 victories, was a 2-1 defeat of 18th ranked Auburn. This season Samford will have a hard time replicating that effort without graduating seniors Amanda Abbott, Brittany Hoffman and Melissa Montgomery, but will get a shot with eight starters from 2014’s championship squad returning. The Bulldogs will also boast an additional nine returning letter winners. Among them is Jermaine Seoposenwe, who is an impressive attacking forward . She was the Bulldogs leading scorer last season, and barring injury could lead them straight back to the top in 2015.
COACH: Andrew Burr (10th year)
2014 RECORD: 13-4-2, (6-1-2, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: SR./FOR. Stephanie DeVita
OUTLOOK: SoCon Player of the Year, Stephanie DeVita returns for the Paladins who will look to dethrone Samford in 2015. Devita along with 2014 All-Southern Conference forwards Carlie Couch and Jamie Alexander, will give Furman a three-pronged attack. The trio racked up 34 goals between them last season, and with a little more experience under their belts, should finish near or at the top again in 2015.
COACH: Tony Economopoulos (4th year)
2014 RECORD: 14-6-2, (6-1-2, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: SR./GK. Maggie Cropp
OUTLOOK: In 2014, the Bears won the most games in a single-season in the program’s 30-year history, on their way to winning the Southern Conference Tournament in its first year in the league. Mercer also advanced to the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history. In 2015, the Bears will lose some of their top players, but get back two key essentials in keeper Maggie Cropp and forward Maddie Clark. Cropp anchored a Mercer defense that notched seven shutouts, while tallying her own 0.84 goals against average and a .828 save percentage. The Bears have won 10 or more games in each of the last five seasons, and will most likely make it six this year.
COACH: Adam Sayers (5th year)
2014 RECORD: 15-6-0, (6-3-0, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: SR./MID. Sarah Zadrazil
OUTLOOK: The Bucs capped a historic season with a 2-1 loss to Samford in the SoCon semifinals. ETSU began its record-setting season with a program-record six straight victories and an 8-2 start, which also tied for the best start in program history. During their miracle season, the Bucs set single-season records for goals, assists, points and wins. ETSU also led the NCAA in scoring, goals and assists, thanks to the nation’s leading goal scorer, Hannah Short, and leading assister, Sarah Zadrazil. And while Short has graduated, Zadrazil returns to try and top her own single-game record of four assists and single-season record of 20 assists, on her way to finishing her collegiate career as the leader at ETSU in points, assists and shots attempted.
COACH: Chad Miller (7th year)
2014 RECORD: 8-7-4, (5-3-1, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: SR./FOR. Markie-Lynn Studnicky
OUTLOOK: The Catamounts finished mid table in 2014, and with 22 returning letter winners and eight starters in 2015, should finish strong. Among them, last year’s leading scorer Markie-Lynn Studnicky. The spirited forward with a penchant for scoring, netted five goals and four assists for 14 points, while scoring two game-winning goals in 2014. She is also tied for third in the Catamount career record books for goals with 19. Studnicky will need to have a good year if Western Carolina wants to climb in the standings in 2015.
COACH: Michael Coll (2nd year)
2014 RECORD: 9-8-3, (5-3-1, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: SR./GK. Chloe Buehler
OUTLOOK: A total of four Spartans made All-Conference honors in 2014. Among them were Chesney White, Georgia Brown, Rebecca Burrows and Chloe Buehler. All but White return in 2015. Buehler will be counted on in net in the upcoming season. She was named to the 2014 Southern Conference All-Freshman team, finishing the 2014 campaign with 87 total saves while, helping UNCG hold its opponents to a 1.35 GA per game. Her play will be critical if the Spartans want to challenge for a SoCon title in 2015.
COACH: Amy Kiah (17th year)
2014 RECORD: 7-11-0, (3-6-0, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: SO./MID. Hannah Washko
OUTLOOK: The Terriers lose seven starters for 2015, and with 17 newcomers, it will be up to players like sophomore Hannah Washko to keep Wofford in the running in 2015. Washko was second in points on the team last season with five goals and five assists. As a team the Terriers played well, but slow starts and falling behind early was their demise. That will have to be corrected if they want to make any noise in 2015.
COACH: Bob Winch (10th year)
2014 RECORD: 7-14-0, (2-7-0, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: JR./GK. Naomi Carter
OUTLOOK: Poor defense was the primary reason the Bulldogs finished near the bottom of the 2014 table, giving up an average of 2.33 goals per season. If not for the play of keeper Naomi Carter, who faced 300 shots and made 117 saves, the end result could have been much worse for the Citadel. Carter returns in 2015, and with the loss of all five of the Bulldogs top scorers from last year, the team’s success rest squarely on her shoulders this coming season.
COACH: Chris Bergmann (1st year)
2014 RECORD: 3-15-1, (2-7-0, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: JR./MID. Kristen Whitehurst
OUTLOOK: The Keydets tied for last place in the 2014 SoCon standings, but are poised for a better season, returning 13 letters winners and five starters in 2015. The squad will be under the direction of first-year head coach Chris Bergman, who comes to VMI after six years as the head coach at Lake Forest College where he coached the school’s men’s team to back to back conference championships in 2012 and 2013. He also earned Midwest Conference Coach of the Year honors both years. If he can find the same success at VMI, the Keydets have nowhere to go but up in 2015.
COACH: Gavin McKinney (1st year)
2014 RECORD: 3-15-1, (2-7-0, SOCON)
IMPACT PLAYER: SR./GK. Lauren Thomas
OUTLOOK: Another first year head coach will try and get the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s soccer program back on track. His biggest challenge — finding a goalkeeper and keeping her healthy. The Mocs had to use seven different keepers in 2014, after injuries depleted the position, forcing UTC to field position players to guard the net in its final games of the season. Luckily for McKinney, he will get back senior keeper Lauren Thomas who will look to improve on the Mocs 5.21 goals against per game average a season ago.