As the season draws near for Liberty women's soccer, the Lady Flames have been picked first in the 2017 Big South Women's Soccer Preseason Poll, which was announced earlier today by the conference office.
In addition, Liberty senior forward Jennifer Knoebel has been selected as the Big South Women's Soccer Preseason Attacking Player of the Year.
Of the 10 votes in the preseason poll, the Lady Flames received eight first-place votes. The only other team to receive first-place votes was High Point.
Liberty is seeking its third straight Big South title and NCAA College Cup appearance, which would be a first in conference history. Last year, Liberty collected its sixth Big South title, setting a new conference standard for team titles.
The Lady Flames will look to continue their success in the Big South as they finished 7-2 last year during the regular season and recorded a school record seven straight shutouts. As they look to defend their title, Liberty is coming off a 14-8 overall record and an appearance in the NCAA College Cup against No. 2 seed North Carolina.
Liberty garnered 98 total votes in the poll, followed by High Point in second place with 92 votes. Campbell finished a distant third with 68 votes, while Radford (64 votes) and Longwood (62 votes) followed closely behind.
Knoebel has proven to be one of the best offensive weapons during her three years in the Big South, tallying 17 career goals to go along with 21 assists. Last season, Knoebel stepped up during Big South play, earning Big South Tournament MVP after scoring three goals in addition to two assists to aid the Lady Flames in their title run.
The senior is a two-time All-Big South selection and was named to the Big South All-Freshman team in 2014. Last year, she ranked third in the Big South, tallying 21 points on seven goals and seven assists. The native of Warrenton, Va. has recorded back-to-back 20-point seasons after being named first team All-Big South during her sophomore campaign.
Knoebel finished ahead of High Point's Becca Rolfe and Radford's Jasmine Casarez in the voting for Big South Preseason Attacking Player of the Year.
The Lady Flames' Sami Santos finished in second place in the running for Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year award. High Point's Alex Hank received the honor, while Longwood's Sydney Wallace finished in third place.
The Lady Flames will officially kick off their first season under head coach Lang Wedemeyer on Aug. 18 when they travel to Staten Island, N.Y., to face Wagner College. Liberty hosts VCU for its home opener on Aug. 20 and opens Big South play against Gardner-Webb at Osborne Stadium on Sept. 23.
2017 Big South Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
Team – Votes (First Place Votes) 1. Liberty – 98 (8 votes) 2. High Point – 92 (2 votes) 3. Campbell – 68 votes 4. Radford – 64 5. Longwood – 62 6. Gardner-Webb – 56 7. UNC Asheville – 44 8. Charleston Southern – 31 9. Winthrop – 24 10. Presbyterian – 11
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