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Lady Flames Tabbed as Preseason Favorites in Big South
Liberty University's women's soccer team has been chosen first in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll, as voted by the league's Head Women's Soccer Coaches and Sports Information Directors, while the panel voted Coastal Carolina sophomore forward Blair Monroe as the league's Preseason Player of the Year, it was announced today by the Big South office.
Liberty, which won the 2005 Big South Tournament, received 11 first-place votes and 147 points out of a possible 162 to repeat as the conference's women's soccer champions in 2006. The Lady Flames captured their third league title and made their third NCAA Tournament appearance in six seasons last year under head coach James Price. Liberty's Mandee Wheelock (Sr., M, Front Royal, Va.), a two-time all-conference first-team honoree, finished third in balloting for the conference's Preseason Player of the Year. She tallied seven points last season, including two goals during the Lady Flames' conference tournament championship run.
Liberty finished ahead of Coastal Carolina, which collected two first-place votes and 126 points. High Point finished third in the voting with 113 points, while Charleston Southern collected three first-place votes and 107 points for the fourth spot. UNC Asheville, which has captured two consecutive regular-season championships, was fifth with two first-place votes and 101 points. Radford totaled 74 points for sixth in the poll, followed by Birmingham-Southern (71 points), Winthrop (44) and VMI (27).
Monroe, the 2005 Big South Women's Soccer Freshman of the Year and first-team all-conference selection, garnered five first-place votes and 13 points. She tied for first in the Big South with a school-record 17 goals and ranked 11th nationally in goals per game. Monroe also had five multi-goal games last season and finished second in the league with 36 points. Charleston Southern's Emma Mattsson was second with four first-place votes and 10 points, followed by Wheelock and UNC Asheville's Robyn Busha (two first-place votes and seven points). High Point's Traci Andersen (three first-place votes) and Birmingham-Southern's Jess Smith (two first-place votes) tied for fifth in the voting with six points each.
The 2006 Big South women's soccer season begins Aug. 25 with seven games scheduled, including the Lady Flames' trip to Longwood University at 7 p.m. The women's soccer
Conference Championship is slated for Nov. 2-5 on the campus of Coastal Carolina University.
2006 Big South Conference Preseason Women's Soccer Poll
Rk Team (1st Place Votes)-Points
1. Liberty (11)-147
2. Coastal Carolina (2)-126
3. High Point-113
4. Charleston Southern (3)-107
5. UNC Asheville (2)-101