One of just four conferences seeking to play despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Sun Belt women’s soccer programs actually kicked off over the weekend with a few non-conference games.
For the 2020 season, the 11-program conference is split between programs out West and the ones in the Southeast. The teams are scheduled to play home-and-home conferences games against each other, with the top four programs in each division advancing to the 2020 Sun Belt Championship. That is scheduled for November 2-8 in Foley, Alabama.
2019 Postseason Awards
Player of the Year: Briana Morris, South Alabama
Offensive Player of the Year: Briana Morris, South Alabama
Defensive Player of the Year: Justice Stanford, South Alabama
Freshman of the Year: Gracie Wilson, South Alabama
Newcomer of the Year: Athanasia Moraitou, South Alabama
Coach of the Year: Richard Moodie, South Alabama
South Alabama (16-4-2/8-1-1)
The perennial power in the Sun Belt, the Jaguars opened up the season with a non-conference game on Sunday. Briana Morris’ graduation leaves big holes to fill in the goal-scoring department. But Richard Moodie’s ability to keep the program at the top of the heap since taking over from Graham Winkworth indicates that the team should be one of the favorites this year. Tilly Wilkes will anchor the team at the back, giving the program something to build off.
Troy University (12-3-4/7-1-2)
After a strong performance last fall, Troy seems best poised to test the Jaguars in the shortened season. Kiersten Edlund setup 12 goals last year and won’t be back, so that’s a big gap to fill. German forward Melissa Kuya-Strobel should factor in more prominently to the attack in 2020.
Georgia State (9-9-2/5-4-1)
Spanish forward Jimena Cabrero paces the team in the attack, scoring six goals and adding two assists in her first season of college soccer. She’ll need some help around her, whether it’s junior Brisa Zavala or a newcomer on the roster. Ensuring that they can best Coastal, App State and Georgia Southern would lay the platform to potentially give the team a shot at a high finish in the East.
Coastal Carolina (7-9-2/5-4-1)
After a first-team Sun Belt season in 2019, Sunny Sigurvinsdottir leads the pack of returnees at Coastal. They conceded 30 goals and scored just 21 last year, so tightening things up at the back would certainly do wonders for their chances.
Georgia Southern (6-11-1/3-7-1)
Several returning impact players, including Kristin Sandifer, Maddie Klintworth and Claire Amici, lead a team that could end up providing some surprising results when the season takes place. Replacing the goal-scoring production of Frida Brattum will be critical to those hopes, however.
Appalachian State (5-10-3/2-6-2)
Several key seniors have graduated from last year’s team, which struggled for traction in the Sun Belt standings. If younger players such as Kerry Eagleston, Liney Brantley and Kirsten Seeley can take a big step forward, that could lead to some improvement.
Arkansas State (10-6-4/5-2-3)
There could be a bit more parity on this side of the bracket without South Alabama or Troy standing out as favorites. Arkansas State wouldn’t mind filling that role, however, with Sarah Sodoma returning to lead the attack.
Texas State (9-7-3/5-4-1)
Two massive seniors graduated after last fall, as Kaylee Davis and Jordan Kondikoff finished up their playing careers at Texas State. Davis scored almost half of the team’s goals last year (eight of 20), and the team possessed a strong defense.
Louisiana Lafayette (9-8-3/4-4-2)
With a more wide-open West Division, the Ragin Cajuns are sure to have a boost in confidence after beating South Alabama by a 2-1 score over the weekend. Junior Lizzie Mayfield, who score two goals and setup two others in the program's first two games of 2020, will be a critical figure in the team's attack after transferring in from West Virginia. Five seniors and eight juniors on the roster give the team a wealth of experience, which is another valuable asset in a strange season.
Little Rock (5-8-6/2-4-4)
Freshman Julia Edholm enjoyed a breakout season last fall, and will look to back up her six-goal performance in the pandemic-altered season. She’ll need some help, as no one else on the team scored more than two goals. Doro Greulich will be the X-Factor, as the former All-Sun Belt First Team honoree missed last fall with an injury. If she’s healthy and plays the full season, there’s little doubt that she can be a huge difference maker.
The Warhawks made a coaching change after losing all 10 conference games in 2019, appointing former Lincoln Memorial University head coach Sean Fraser. Improving the team’s defense is a good starting point after conceding 46 goals in 18 games a year ago.
2019 record in parentheses