ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Lincoln Memorial University women’s soccer team has been selected third in the South Atlantic Conference women’s soccer preseason coaches’ poll, while forward Michelle Hunter (Tecumseh, Ontario) and midfielder Olivia Thompson (Melbourne, Fla.) were named to the preseason All-SAC Second Team, officials with the league office announced on Wednesday.
The Lady Railsplitters received a total of 93 points with one first-place vote in the 2014 preseason prognostication to finish third, a two-spot leap from last season’s performance.
In 2013, Lincoln Memorial posted a 10-8-1 overall record with a 6-5 effort in South Atlantic Conference play, good for a fifth-place regular-season finish. LMU qualified for the Food Lion SAC Championship, beating the Catawba Indians in the quarterfinals 2-1 and then dispatching of 16th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne 2-0 in the semifinals. However, a 2-1 loss to the Wingate Bulldogs in the SAC Championship brought the Lady Railsplitters’ season to an end.
The top spot in the preseason poll was awarded to the Wingate Bulldogs, who totaled 117 points with seven first-place votes. The Bulldogs captured the SAC tournament title after finishing second in the regular season in route to making an NCAA Elite Eight appearance, finishing the year 16-3-4 overall with an 8-2-1 conference mark.
Lenoir-Rhyne earned the second spot with 110 points and four first-place votes to their credit. The Bears captured the SAC regular-season championship with a 14-4-2 overall record and a 9-1-1 conference finish on their way to earning a NCAA Southeast Regional invite.
Catawba finished fourth in the voting after posting a 10-8-1 overall record while compiling a 6-4-1 tally in the league in 2013. Queens and Tusculum rounded out the top half of the pole with Queens edging Tusculum by a single point for fifth place. Queens rounded out their first season as members of the SAC with a 5-4-2 record in league encounters, while Tusculum finished third in the conference at 7-2-2 last season.
No.7 Carson-Newman (4-4-3), No.8 Newberry (5-6), No.9 Anderson (3-3-5), No.10 Mars Hill (2-8-1), No.11 Coker (2-8-1), and No.12 Brevard (0-10-1) rounded out the bottom half of the poll.
Michelle Hunter finished her stellar freshman campaign with eight goals, ranking fourth in the South Atlantic Conference in goals scored. She added two assists for a total of 18 points, finishing eighth in the league in that category. For her efforts, Hunter received the nod for the All-SAC Second Team.
Olivia Thompson experienced a breakout sophomore campaign, wrapping up the 2013 season with five goals, while tallying two assists to amass 12 total points. Thompson concluded the year ranked 14th in the SAC in goals and 19th in points, earning All-SAC Honorable Mention laurels.
Along with Hunter and Thompson, the Lady Railsplitters return nine starters and eight of the 11 players to register at least one point during the 2013 campaign.
The Lady Railsplitters open the season on Sept. 5 in a clash against the 2013 NCAA runner-up West Florida in the CSU Collegiate Invitational in Columbus, Ga. Lincoln Memorial debuts at the LMU Soccer Complex on Sept. 13 in the South Atlantic Conference opener versus Coker.