Anderson Women's Soccer Tied for Sixth in Preseason PollAugust 15, 2012
Six Trojans Earn Preseason All-Conference Accolades
ROCK HILL, S.C. – In a vote by the league’s coaches, the Anderson University women’s soccer team has been tabbed to finish tied for sixth in the South Atlantic Conference this season as released Wednesday morning by the conference office.
“Our conference is very competitive and is very strong,” said Anderson head coach Samar Azem. “Preseason votes are projected off a team’s previous success, and many of the teams ranked above us have a history of success, which is what we aim to build. We’re look forward to this season, and I feel very confident and happy with the way pre-season has started off this year.”
Last season, the Trojans garnered nine wins and a berth in the semifinals of the 2011 Food Lion South Atlantic Tournament, while earning a No. 8 ranking in the Southeast Region during the regular season. With a strong defensive presence, AU posted an impressive five-match South Atlantic Conference win streak in October. With their seventh shutout of the campaign coming in the non-conference win past Valdosta State, the Trojans set a new school record for clean sheets, eclipsing the previous record of six which was set in 2001 and equaled in 2003
“Our returning players are showing a tremendous amount of passion, leadership, and knowledge of our style of play and expectations and many of our incoming players are meeting some of those standards and adapting very quickly,” added Azem. “The members of our program know what we are capable of and that we must remain committed to our goals and our potential, regardless of where we stand in the polls.”
Jessica Kleinberg, a 5-foot-3 forward/midfielder, earned SAC Player of the Week honors early last season and was named Second-Team All South Atlantic Conference following the season. The Hamilton, Ohio native scored six goals last season, four of which were game-winners, which was good enough for second in the league.
“Jess had a tremendous start to the season last year and has a lot of potential to make an impact on the field, and is a strong contender up top,” said Azem. “Jess and I have spoken about some of her weaknesses and although I’m very excited the conference has recognized her strengths, I know she is dedicated to surpassing what she has accomplished in the past and finishing up her career on a very high note.”
Lough saw action in all 20 games a year ago and earned Second-Team All South Atlantic Conference mention. The 5-foot-9 defender helped lead the team to a school record eight shutouts, while posting eight shots, including four shots on goal during the season.
“Adrienne is a player that has grown and developed tremendously in the last year,” noted Azem. “She was an anchor for us in the back and as a captain this year, has come in very driven to lead both herself and the team. I am also excited for Adrienne that the conference recognizes her as a first-team player.”
A 5-foot-5 keeper, Neipp started all 20 matches last season en route to earning First-Team All South Atlantic Conference honors at the conclusion of the campaign. She was also named to the SAC All-Tournament Team and ranked 47th nationally in save percentage, while notching seven shutouts on the season.
“Kaitlyn had a tremendous year last fall,” Azem commented. “She’s a consistent player for us and was nationally ranked - the first player in our program’s history to receive a first-team all conference nod last year. Kaitlyn is a very seasoned goalkeeper and I don’t believe we have even tapped near what she’s capable of doing, which is very exciting as we think of this upcoming season.”
Johnson, another defender on the stellar defensive unit, also saw action in all 20 matches and was named Second-Team All South Atlantic Conference.
“Sissa was another player that anchored our back line and showed that she was a consistently successful player,” said Azem. “She has the ability to make an incredible impact on the game without being noticed as a key player. I believe Sissa will continue to do the impressive job she has done, as we saw with her this spring, and may begin making more waves with her ability to organize a strong back line.”
Ashley Kleinberg, a5-foot-3 defender, played in 13 games, recording four shots on the season, including two shots on goal.
“Ashley was a player we moved to the back line very quickly and she answered immediately,” added Azem. “I was thrilled to see that the conference noticed her and know that she has come prepared to build off what she learned last year. She’s a tough player, a resilient player, a smart player and a great leader for this program.”
Goss was second on the team with 33 shots, including 13 shots on goal and notched a pair of game-winning scores on the season, while adding a team-best four assists – which ranked ninth in the conference.
“Krystal is another player that came out of the woodwork for us last year,” concluded Azem. “She’s incredibly gifted and I felt as though we started truly bringing the best out of her game in the spring, which makes me excited knowing what she’s capable of doing this fall and I’m glad to see that she’s received some recognition, although knowing her I know she’ll fight for a first-team nod before it’s all said and done.”
The coaches voted Wingate No. 1 in the poll, while Anderson led the preseason All-Conference Team.
Wingate, which went 16-4 overall last season and won the 2011 Food Lion SAC Soccer Championship, received seven first-place votes in the preseason poll. The Bulldogs finished second in last year’s SAC standings and later advanced to the quarterfinals of the last year’s NCAA Soccer Championship Southeast Regional.
Five Wingate players were named to the preseason All-SAC Team, including four on the First Team. Among the Bulldogs’ first-team selections were 2011 All-SAC First Team picks Jade Montgomery at forward and midfielder Kelly Moldenhauer.
Montgomery finished fifth in the SAC in shots, seventh in goals and 10th in points last season.
No. 2 in the preseason coaches’ poll was defending SAC regular-season champion Lenoir-Rhyne, which received three first-place votes. The Bears went a perfect 9-0 in league play in 2011, were the runner-up at the SAC Championship, and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
L-R placed three student-athletes on the preseason All-Conference Team, including first-team midfielders Carley Griffin and Hanna Keibel. Griffin was a member of the 2011 All-SAC First Team as well after finishing sixth in the conference in goals.
Tusculum was voted third in the preseason poll and had three student-athletes named to the preseason All-SAC Team. TC forward Tramicka James and midfielder Monica Perez earned spots on the First Team.
James led the conference in points and goals in 2011.
The Pioneers were followed in the preseason poll by No. 4 Newberry and No. 5 Catawba. Both teams had one player selected to the preseason All-SAC Team, including Newberry first-team forward Cassie Smith, who had the second-highest assist total in the league last year.
Anderson and Lincoln Memorial tied for No. 6 in the preseason poll. LMU, meanwhile, placed two on the preseason All-SAC Second Team.
Mars Hill was picked No. 8 in the poll, followed by No. 9 Carson-Newman. MHC placed two players on the preseason All-SAC Team, while C-N placed one.
Brevard rounded out the preseason poll at No. 10, and had one All-SAC Second Team selection.
Anderson opens the regular season on the road at Columbus State’s Collegiate Invitational on Aug. 31 versus Tampa.
Team Points (1st-place votes)
1. Wingate 79 (7)
2. Lenoir-Rhyne 74 (3)
3. Tusculum 65
4. Newberry 48
5. Catawba 45
6. Anderson 42
Lincoln Memorial 42
8. Mars Hill 26
9. Carson-Newman 20
10. Brevard 9
PRESEASON ALL-SOUTH ATLANTIC CONFERENCE TEAM
All-SAC First Team
Jessica Kleinberg, Anderson
Tramicka James, Tusculum
A.J. Lightbody, Wingate
Jade Montgomery, Wingate
Carley Griffin, Lenoir-Rhyne
Hanna Keibel, Lenoir-Rhyne
Monica Perez, Tusculum
Chandler Murphy, Wingate
Adrienne Lough, Anderson
Grace Lancaster, Mars Hill
Cassie Smith, Newberry
Kelly Moldenhauer, Wingate
Kaitlyn Neipp, Anderson
All-SAC Second Team
Krystal Goss, Anderson
Nicole McKinney, Lincoln Memorial
Catherine Watkins-Banks, Mars Hill
Brooke Ehman, Carson-Newman
Elizabeth Hawes, Lenoir-Rhyne
Savannah Pitt, Lincoln Memorial
Jana Linke, Tusculum
Caitlin Scruggs, Lenoir-Rhyne