AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Peach Belt Conference office released the 2012 women's soccer preseason coaches poll Monday afternoon with the North Georgia College & State Saints being tabbed third behind the nearly unanimous favorite Armstrong Atlantic State and Columbus State.
The Saints, who open their regular-season on Thursday, August 30 at Alabama-Huntsville, received three second-place votes, seven third-place votes and a single sixth-place vote to finish with 99 points. The Pirates garnered 121 points after claiming the 2011 league crown while the Cougars receiving 110 points in the poll.
Last season, North Georgia's women had a breakout year as they set a school record for most wins in a season and made the program's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II tournament. The Saints finished the year 16-3-1 overall including an 8-1-1 record in the league which placed them second in the final PBC standings.
Head coach Chris Adams is hoping to continue to build on 2011's success as he returns eight starters among 18 total returning letterwinners. Joining preseason All-Conference selections Kelly Penston and Kelsey Martin on the field will be four other players who saw action in at least 19 games last season including Caroline Wallace who matched Penston a year ago by registering six goals and a pair of assists.
Along with a solid returning core, Adams added 10 freshmen to the ranks, all of which could make immediate impacts on the team.
Behind North Georgia, Clayton State (fourth) and Lander University (fifth) rounded out the top-five for the preseason poll. UNC Pembroke (sixth), Georgia College (seventh), Flagler College (eighth), Montevallo (ninth), Young Harris (10th), USC Aiken (11th) and Georgia Southwestern (12th) rounded out the voting.
Teams were given 11 points for a first-place vote, 10 for a second and so forth. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
2012 PBC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Armstrong Atlantic State 121 pts.
2. Columbus State 110 pts.
3. North Georgia 99 pts.
4. Clayton State 80 pts.
5. Lander 78 pts.
6. UNC Pembroke 73 pts.
7. Georgia College 58 pts.
8. Flagler 57 pts.
9. Montevallo 44 pts.
10. Young Harris 38 pts.
11. USC Aiken 21 pts.
12. Georgia Southwestern 13 pts.