Redshirt Senior goalkeeper Karen Blocker
Liberty has been picked to finish seventh in the 2012 Big South Conference preseason women's soccer poll, as voted upon by the league's head coaches. Head coach Jessica Hain's squad, which opens fall practice this week, tallied 76 points. Campbell, who was picked No. 1, received four first-place votes and 132 out of a possible 144 points in the voting to finish ahead of defending champion Radford, which totaled six top votes and 130 points from the panel. High Point came in at the No. 3 position with two top bids and 122 points. In fourth was Winthrop with 101 points, followed by new Big South member Longwood at No. 5 with 90 points. Charleston Southern picked up 83 points to land at No. 6. Coastal Carolina's 65 points were good for the No. 8 slot and at No. 9 was UNC Asheville with 50 points. At No. 10 was Gardner-Webb with 46 points, followed by Presbyterian College with 23 points. VMI closed out the list with 18 points from the panel. In addition, the coaches voted Winthrop forward Krystyna Freda the League's Preseason Attacking Player of the Year and Radford defender Tyler Drake the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Last season, Liberty finished fifth in the conference standings with a 5-4-1 record in Big South play. Hain's squad defeated No. 4 High Point in the Big South Championship quarterfinals, 2-1, thanks to a golden goal by Helen Pereira in overtime. The Lady Flames then faced No. 1 Radford in the semifinals, but were halted by the eventual champion, 4-1. The Lady Flames return six starters from last year, including senior goalkeeper Karen Blocker, 2011 all-conference second team member Lauren Stell and all-tournament team selections Kelly Henion and Pereira. Blocker enters her final season No. 2 on Liberty's career shutout list with 11 and No. 3 all-time on the school's career saves list with 253. Liberty opens the season on the road against Davidson on Aug. 17. The Lady Flames then make their 2012 debut at Osborne Stadium on Aug. 19, hosting Drexel at 2 p.m. On Sept. 20, Liberty will host Presbyterian College for its first of 11 Big South Conference matches. Eight teams will compete in the 2012 Big South Championship, with the top four seeds hosting first round matchups on Oct. 27. Tournament play then moves to Winthrop's Eagle Field for the semifinals and finals, Nov. 2 and 4. The conference champion receives an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Tournament.
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