Defending women's soccer champion Liberty University has been unanimously voted the preseason favorite in the Big South Conference Women's Soccer preseason poll by the league's head coaches, as announced today by the conference office. The Lady Flames collected all 11 first-place votes and 121 total points, and are the preseason favorite for the first time since 2010 and sixth time overall. Along with the top spot, Liberty redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Holly Van Noord was voted Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches. Winthrop senior forward Krystyna Freda was voted the Preseason Attacking Player of the Year. In 2013, Liberty went 16-6-1 overall and finished second in the Big South with an 8-2-1 league record. The Lady Flames won their fourth Big South Women's Soccer Championship last season after defeating two-time defending champion Radford in the title game. Liberty's 5-0 shutout set a tournament record for the most goals scored in a finals matchup. The Highlanders were voted second behind Liberty with 101 points, while Longwood was third with 90 points. Coastal Carolina (88 points) and High Point (81 points) round out the preseason top five. Winthrop claimed the sixth spot with 77 total points, while Charleston Southern and Presbyterian tied for seventh place with 40 points each. Campbell garnered ninth place with 37 points, while UNC Asheville was 10th with 28 points. Gardner-Webb finished 11th with 23 total points. A second team All-Big South honoree as a redshirt freshman last season, Van Noord set the single-season Big South and Liberty record with 14 shutouts while leading the league in goals against average (0.72) and save percentage (.850). She was an NSCAA All-Southeast Region Third-Team selection, VaSID First-Team All-State and the VaSID Women's Soccer Rookie of the Year in 2013. The 2014 Big South women's soccer season begins Friday, Aug. 22 with 10 of the league's 11 teams in action, while conference play opens Wednesday, Sept. 24. The 2014 Big South Women's Soccer Championship tournament is slated for Oct. 31-Nov. 9, with quarterfinal games at the home sites of the top four seeds Oct. 31-Nov. 2, followed by the semifinals (Nov. 7) and finals (Nov. 9) at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. The top eight teams will qualify for the tournament for the first time, with the champion receiving the Big South's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
2014 Big South Conference Preseason Women's Soccer Poll
Rk Team (first-place votes) Points 1. Liberty (11) 121 2. Radford 101 3. Longwood 90 4. Coastal Carolina 88 5. High Point 81 6. Winthrop 77 T-7. Charleston Southern 40 T-7. Presbyterian College 40 9. Campbell 37 10. UNC Asheville 28 11. Gardner-Webb 23
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