2018 Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer Preview and Players to Watch


HIGH POINT, N.C. – The 2018 Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer preseason poll has been released. It should come as no surprise that Limestone College will enter the season as the favorite to win the Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer Championship, according to Conference Carolinas coaches.

 

1. Limestone College: The Saints earned 120 points from Conference coaches, including 10 first-place votes.

The Saints posted their third straight trip to the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship in 2017 after going 17-3-1 overall record and 11-0 in conference play. Limestone also captured both the Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament titles in 2017.

The Saints have a ton of talent back in 2018 with their five United Soccer Coaches All-Region selections in Lea Hippauf, Alex Mathis, Holly Rawcliffe, Millie Shaw and Veronica Smeltzer leading the way. Limestone also returns all-conference performers Selina Boveleth and Emma Hickson, 2017 tournament MOP Megan O'Connor and all-tournament pick Danielle Murray.

A few priorities for the Saints this season is to defend their conference title and be a major competitor in the Southeast region. Limestone enters 2018 with a 31-match Conference Carolinas winning streak, including tournament play, dating back to Nov. 2, 2015. With the level of talent back, it could be tough for anyone to end the Saints' conference streak without being on their 'A' game and should put the rest of the region on notice.

Players to Watch:

  • *Lea Hippauf (Sr.) - Defender
  • *Holly Rawcliffe (Sr.) - Midfielder
  • *Millie Shaw (Sr.) - Forward

 

2. Belmont Abbey College: The Crusaders enter 2018 second with 106 points from Conference coaches. Belmont Abbey finished third in Conference Carolinas last season with a 7-3-1 league record and 11-5-2 overall.

The Abbey returns a pair of United Soccer Coaches All-Region selections in Rachel Coutinho and Morgan Patton, along with two more all-conference selections in Alex Butorovich and Savannah Goodin. The Crusaders are the last team to beat Limestone and with the amount of talent returning they could be a favorite to knock them off this season.

Players to Watch:

  • *Alex Butorovich (Jr.) - Midfielder
  • *Rachel Coutinho (Sr.) - Defender
  • *Morgan Patton (Jr.) - Forward

 

3.  Chowan University: The Hawks narrowly enter their second season as an associate member ranked third with 105 points and two first-place votes. Chowan wrapped up 2017 with an 8-2-1 conference mark, which ranked second, and 12-3-2 overall record.

The Hawks return the 2017 Conference Carolinas Offensive Player and Freshman of the Year and United Soccer Coaches All-Region pick in Carolina Lucci, who led the league with 42 points and 19 goals. In addition to Lucci, Chowan returns four other all-conference players in Olivia Borer, Asia Fort, Sabrina Henderson and Shannon Park, and all-tournament pick Sierra Gonzalez.

With a year of experience under their belt in Conference Carolinas and all the returning talent, the Hawks have a strong chance of winning a regular season title in 2018.

Players to Watch:

  • *Olivia Borer (Sr.) - Goalkeeper
  • *Carolina Lucci (So.) - Forward

 

4. Lees-McRae College: The Bobcats enter the year with 83 points and a fourth-place ranking. Lees-McRae turned in a sixth-place conference finish in 2017 with a 4-5-2 record while going 5-12-3 overall.

A year after making a run to the Women's Soccer Championship semifinals in 2016, the Bobcats took the next step and made a late-season run to the Championship final in 2017. A big part of the run was due to 2017 Conference Carolinas Defensive Player of the Year Alexis Feely and her stellar play between the pipes, as she led the league with 144 saves.

Feely will be back for her senior season in 2018 and will be joined by another all-conference selection in Kiara Monetenegro. Also returning are two all-tournament picks in Autumn Esposito and Katie Lysaght, which gives Lees-McRae the talent and experience to be a real 2018 title contender.

Players to Watch:

  • Autumn Esposito (Jr.) - Midfielder
  • *Alexis Feely (Sr.) - Goalkeeper
  • *Kiara Monetenegro (So.) - Forward

 

5. North Greenville University: The Crusaders tallied 80 points and are fifth entering the season. North Greenville finished fourth in the Conference Carolinas standing last season by going 7-4-1 and 9-7-4 overall.

First team all-conference selection Asheton Robinson is back for the Crusaders and should be the driving force that allows them to continue their rise in Conference Carolinas.

Players to Watch:

  • Michaela Gleed (Jr.) - Defender
  • *Asheton Robinson (Sr.) - Forward

 

6. Barton College: The Bulldogs posted 73 points from Conference coaches and are ranked sixth. Barton went 8-8-3 overall in 2017 while posting a 5-4-3 conference mark, which earned them a fifth-place finish.

Three all-conference honorees return for the Bulldogs in Rebekah Beal, Rebecca Fraser and Laisy Scardazzi, which will make them a tough team to face during the grueling conference slate. A breakout star for Barton in 2018 could be forward Jordyn Brown, who put up all-conference caliber numbers in 2017 with 16 points on seven goals and two assists.

Players to Watch:

  • *Rebekah Beal (Jr.) - Forward
  • Jordyn Brown (Sr.) - Forward
  • *Laisy Scardazzi (Sr.) - Midfielder

 

7. Emmanuel College: The Lions earned 53 points from coaches and make their Conference Carolinas preseason poll debut in seventh-place. Emmanuel finished last year with a 4-6-1 record in league play while going 10-9-1 overall.

Had the Lions been postseason eligible, they would have been the No. 7 seed in last year's Women's Soccer Championship. Making the team's 2018 projection quite appropriate and if it holds, Emmanuel will be dancing come tourney time.

Players to Watch:

  • Cynthia Gonzalez (So.) - Defender
  • Lindsay Lee (Jr.) - Forward
  • Hannah Welch (Sr.) - Goalkeeper

 

8. Southern Wesleyan University: The Warriors collected 46 points and enter the season ranked eighth. Southern Wesleyan finished 2017 with a 4-7-0 conference record and 9-10-0 overall mark.

The nine wins in 2017 was the Warriors' best total since 2009 (11) and the group is hungry to hit the pitch in 2018 and build on it's success.

SWU will have all-conference selection Ashley Romanowski back in the fold to help the team build on earning the No. 7 seed in last season's conference tournament. Southern Wesleyan will have a potent offensive duo up top, as Romanowski posted 28 points (11g, 6a) and Rachel Curtis notched 20 points (8g, 4a).

Players to Watch:

  • Rachel Curtis (Jr.) - Forward
  • *Ashley Romanowski (Jr.) - Forward
  • Helen Schweiger (Sr.) - Midfielder

 

9. Erskine College: The Fleet picked up 39 points from Conference coaches to enter the season ranked ninth. Erskine went 6-11-0 overall in 2017, which included a 4-7-0 conference record.

Players to Watch:

  • Alexa Barrios (Fr.) - Midfielder
  • Vivian Gonzalez (Fr.) - Forward
  • Brittiney Gardner (Fr.) - Midfielder

 

10. University of Mount Olive: The Trojans enter the season with 37 points and a 10th-place ranking. Mount Olive posted an 4-13-0 overall record and 3-8-0 conference mark in 2017.

The Trojans will have a new coach at the helm and also welcomed in 14 new players to the squad. UMO should hit the ground running and make a push to land in the conference tourney by season's end.

Players to Watch:

  • Kaylee Larson (Sr.) - Midfielder
  • Lauren Mumford (Sr.) - Midfielder

 

11. Converse College: The Valkyries tallied 30 points from coaches and an 11th-place projection for 2018. Converse went 3-7-1 in Conference Carolinas action and 4-10-2 overall in 2017.

Players to Watch:

  • Anna Claire Albritton (So.) - Midfielder
  • *Melissa Carlyle (Sr.) - Midfielder
  • Lizzie Melching (Sr.) - Defender

 

12. King University: The Tornado close out the 2018 poll in 12th-place with 20 points. King went 2-13-1 overall and 2-9-0 in league play in 2017.

With 18 freshmen and nine solid returners, the Tornado is looking to bounce back after a tough 2017 season and qualify for the conference tourney.

Players to Watch:

  • Emaleigh Adcox (Sr.) - Defender
  • Lizzie Boone (Sr.) - Midfielder
  • McKenzie Clarke (Sr.) - Midfielder


*denotes 2017 All-Conference Carolinas selection

 

2018 Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

School (first-place votes) Total
1. Limestone (10) 120 
2. Belmont Abbey 106 
3. Chowan (2) 105 
4. Lees-McRae 83 
5. North Greenville 80 
6. Barton 73 
7. Emmanuel 53 
8. Southern Wesleyan 46 
9. Erskine 39 
10. Mount Olive 37 
11. Converse 30 
12. King 20 

 


Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletics conference made up of 11 teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey College, Converse College, Emmanuel College, Erskine College, King University, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, University of Mount Olive, North Greenville University, and Southern Wesleyan University.