ROCK HILL, S.C. — Sophomores Nicole McKinney and Savannah Pitt were selected to the preseason All-South Atlantic Conference team and the Lincoln Memorial University women’s soccer team was selected No. 6 in the league’s 2012 preseason coaches’ poll, announced Wednesday.
The SAC preseason poll is voted on by the head soccer coaches throughout the South Atlantic Conference. The Lady Railsplitters finished in a tie with Anderson University for sixth place with 42 total points. LMU looks to improve on last season’s 8-8-2 mark which was comprised of a 4-4-1 conference record, good for a sixth-place regular season finish. The 2011 campaign ended with a 4-0 loss at Newberry College in the quarterfinals of the SAC tournament.
The Lady Railsplitters suffered several key losses from last season’s squad, however, head coach Helio D’Anna and staff made waves on the recruiting circuit with the addition of 14 new members for the 2012 campaign. Despite the significant components lost from a season ago, LMU returns five of their top nine goal scorers, 11 letter winners and six players that recorded over 1,000 minutes in 2011.
Among those players, sophomore forward Nicole McKinney was selected to the preseason All-SAC second team and will be looked upon to provide experience and leadership for the Lady Railsplitters. Hailing from Ooltewah, Tenn., McKinney started the first 14 games of the 2011 schedule before a knee injury sidelined her for the remainder of the season. She returns to full strength this year and looks to build off of a freshman season that included a pair of goals and a pair of assists for a total of six points. She also notched 17 shots and ten shots on goal.
Also selected to the preseason All-SAC second team, sophomore Savannah Pitt is expected to play a pivotal role in the Lady Railsplitters’ offense. Last season, Pitt, a native of Gallatin, Tenn., finished second on the team with four goals on only seven shots on goal, completing the season with an outstanding .700 shots on goal percentage. Pitt’s best game of her freshman campaign came against King College on Sept. 7th when she notched a pair of goals in a 3-2 victory for the Lady ‘Splitters.
LMU opens the season with a trifecta of home games beginning with the season opener on Sept. 1, as the Lady Railsplitters host University of Alabama-Huntsville at 1 p.m.
Wingate University received seven first-place votes in the poll and earned a total of 79 points to grab the top spot. The Bulldogs went 16-4 last season en route to capturing the 2011 Food Lion SAC Soccer Championship and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Southeast Regional. The Bulldogs placed five student-athletes on the preseason All-SAC team, including four on the first team.
Lenoir-Rhyne University was second in the poll a season after finishing as the SAC regular-season champions. The Bears claimed three first-place votes a year removed from an appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Lenoir-Rhyne had three players selected to the preseason All-SAC team including two first-teamers.
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SAC Women’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Wingate- 79 (7)
2. Lenoir-Rhyne- 74 (3)
3. Tusculum- 65
4. Newberry- 48
5. Catawba- 45
6. Anderson- 42
(tie) Lincoln Memorial- 42
8. Mars Hill- 26
9. Carson-Newman- 20
10. Brevard- 9