West Virginia Wesleyan has been picked to win the first-ever Mountain East Conference championship in women's soccer in a vote conducted by the league's coaches.
WVWC collected six of a possible eight first-place votes and finished with 62 points. Charleston, which grabbed the other two first-place votes, was picked as the runner-up with 50 points, followed by Concord (39) and Shepherd (34). Notre Dame College was predicted to finish fifth with 30 points, trailed by Wheeling Jesuit (27), Urbana (23) and West Liberty (18).
The Bobcats posted a record of 12-6-3 last year and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after handing seventh-ranked Gannon a defeat in the first round. WVWC returns a stingy defense led by goalkeeper Lauren Duncan who recorded 57 saves and notched a 0.49 goals-against average. Sophomore Kristen Hoo will pace the offense after scoring four goals last season along with midfielder Jade Smith who added three.
Charleston posted a 9-9-3 record and fell to West Virginia Wesleyan in the finals of the WVIAC Tournament in 2012. A pair of seniors will be asked to carry the offensive load for UC in Brittany Loveland and Renee Boudreau, who each accounted for four goals and three assists last year. Junior Courtney Budd made 16 starts at keeper last year for the Golden Eagles making 87 saves, but Jennifer Poppe also saw time between the pipes making six starts and making 23 saves and posting a goals-against average of 1.26.
Sophomore Kari Simon scored eight of Concord's 22 goals last season and returns to pace the Mountain Lion offense in 2012. Junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Wasylko played every minute of every game last season for CU making 103 saves and registering a 1.36 goals-against average.
Shepherd fell one game shy of .500 finishing with a 7-8-3 record in 2012. The Rams bring back Taylor Amsley who led the team with 13 points on four goals and five assists. Elizabeth Wise saw action in 14 games and made 11 starts in goal for SU making 73 saves and a 1.24 goals-against average.
Notre Dame went 3-13-1 and graduated its top scorer in Lauren Acker. Senior has been a starter in goal for NDC since her freshman year and will be counted on to keep teams at bay. Wheeling Jesuit, picked to finish sixth, went 4-11-3 a season ago, but has the benefit of returning its top returning scorers Jessie Vilkofsky (5G, 1A) and Jenna Klemkowsky (4G, 2A). Urbana went 8-9-2 in 2012 and brings back senior midfielder Brittany Mazzu, who notched five goals last season. West Liberty, which is in just its second year of existence, returns nearly its entire roster from last season, including defender Paige Petroval who added three goals last season for the 'Toppers.
The 2013 season starts with several teams in action on Sept. 5, and teams will begin the inaugural Mountain East Conference season on Sept. 13.
Mountain East Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
1. West Virginia Wesleyan 62 (6)
2. Charleston 50 (2)
3. Concord 39
4. Shepherd 34
5. Notre Dame College 30
6. Wheeling Jesuit 27
7. Urbana 23
8. West Liberty 18