FRISCO, Texas – The Southeastern Louisiana women’s soccer squad, with a new coaching staff and 11 newcomers, was picked seventh in the 2017 Southland Conference Preseason Poll, the conference announced on Wednesday.
Southeastern received 106 points in the vote by the league’s coaches and sports information staffs.
The Lady Lions graduated seven seniors from a squad that finished 7-11-2 overall while tying for sixth in the Southland at 4-6-1. Southeastern advanced to the conference tournament for the 19th time before losing to eventual champion Houston Baptist, 2-1, in the opening round.
The Lady Lions return 13 from that squad, led by senior midfielder Lauren Babcock who was named to the Preseason All-Southland second team on Tuesday. They will be joined by 10 freshmen and a junior transfer.
“When you graduate as many players as we graduated, the squad is pretty unknown to the conference,” first-year head coach Chris McBride said. “As coaches, we’re still evaluating what our best lineup is and assessing the players, so that’s fair for us. We’re happy with that. It’s the preseason and nobody has seen anyone. There are changes every year - newcomers nobody has seen, seniors depart, injuries happen, freshmen and sophomores from last year emerge - so a lot can change throughout the year. It’s been a long time since last November. The preseason vote is a reflection of where we are expected to be but it’s not a true reflection of where we will finish this year.”
Central Arkansas was picked to repeat as regular season champions with 14 first-place votes and 232 points overall. UCA went undefeated in the regular season in 2016 after being picked to finish sixth by both the coaches and SIDs.
Stephen F. Austin, last season’s regular season and tournament runner-up, received five first-place votes and 219 points in being picked second. Abilene Christian was third with four first-place votes and 204 points. Houston Baptist, the reigning tournament champion, received the other first place vote and 180 points for fourth. Northwestern State was fifth with 138 points and McNeese sixth with 131.
Lamar followed Southeastern with 93 points. Sam Houston State (86), Nicholls (82), UIW (61) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (52) rounded out the poll.
Southeastern will play an exhibition match at Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg Thursday at 4 p.m. The Lady Lions open the regular season against Jackson State, Friday, Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium.
2017 Southland Conference Preseason Women’s Soccer Poll
Team (1st Place Votes) Total
1. Central Arkansas (14) 232
2. Stephen F. Austin (5) 219
3. Abilene Christian (4) 204
4. Houston Baptist (1) 180
5. Northwestern State 138
6. McNeese 131
7. Southeastern La. 106
8. Lamar 93
9. Sam Houston State 86
10. Nicholls 82
11. UIW 61
12. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 52