Cumberland women’s soccer was picked to repeat as Mid-South Conference regular season champions in a vote of league coaches released Tuesday by the conference office.
The Phoenix won the 2017 MSC regular season title with a perfect 7-0-0 mark, the second Mid-South regular season championship in program history (2013). Second-year head coach Brian Davies must replace nine letterwinners from last year’s club but returns MSC Player of the Year Rebecca Holloway as well as First Team All-Conference selections Sarah Haddock, Ashley Kambeitz, Mariah Aplin and Savannah Moreland and Second Team honoree Luca Jöns.
“It’s nice to be recognized by other coaches in the league but we know every team will give us their best shot,” Davies said. “Our goals don’t change, to win the regular season and conference tournament and get back to the national tournament.”
Holloway posted 11 goals and led the Mid-South with 12 assists, ranking 16th nationally in total assists. Aplin added nine goals and Moreland collected eight, with both players netting six assists apiece. Haddock also scored seven goals from her central defender position, using her 5-foot-8 frame on set pieces.
Haddock and Jöns anchored the central defense in front of Kambeitz, with the trio helping the club register 10 shutouts and a 1.12 goals-against-average for the season. Kambeitz recorded 74 saves and was 14-5-1 in net, running her career record to 36-19-3 with a 1.24 goals-against-average.
Cumberland received four first-place votes and 46 total points, with Lindsey Wilson right behind two first-place votes and 42 votes. The University of the Cumberlands picked up the other two first-place votes and 36 points, followed by Georgetown College with 33 points and Campbellsville University with 26. Shawnee State (18), Life University (16) and the University of Pikeville (7) rounded out the poll.
Men picked second
Cumberland men’s soccer was selected second in the Mid-South Conference in a poll of league coaches released Tuesday by the conference office.
Cumberland tied for second in the regular season before winning the Mid-South Conference Tournament last season, earning an automatic berth into the NAIA Championship Opening Round. Second-year head coach Adam Grant returns nine starters, including MSC Freshman of the Year Tyler Watson as well as First Team All-Mid-South performers Bennet Strutz, Sondre Risa, Markus Skraastad and Daniel Williams as well as Second Team honoree Bakary Bagayogo.
“We have a great group of players who are focused on building on the success of last year,” Grant said. “We don’t pay much attention to preseason polls but continue to press forward with hard work as we head toward the start of the season.”
Williams led the Mid-South Conference and ranked 13th nationally in total goals per game. He ranked first in the country with eight game-winning goals and 17th in total points with 40, adding four assists.
Bagayogo led the Phoenix with nine assists while tallying five goals and Watson posted nine goals and five assists in his freshman campaign. Skraastad also handed out six assists for Cumberland, which finished 15-3-2, 5-1-1 in the Mid-South.
Risa and Strutz anchored the CU defense that allowed just 18 goals in 20 matches, including 12 shutouts. The 6-foot-6 Strutz collected 55 saves with a 0.76 goals-against-average and nine solo shutouts.
Lindsey Wilson posted six first-place votes and 48 total points for first place with Cumberland in second with 40 points. Campbellsville University was third with one first-place vote and 38 points while the Life University got the remaining first-place vote and 31 points.
The University of the Cumberlands ranked fifth with 28 points and Georgetown College (17), the University of Pikeville (13) and Shawnee State (9) rounded out the poll.
Cumberland will play an exhibition game at home Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. against Carson-Newman and begin the regular season Aug. 25 at Christian Brothers at 4 p.m.