08/26/12 — Trojan women, rebuilding from losses, are picked fourth

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Trojan women, rebuilding from losses, are picked fourth

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 26, 2012 1:52 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Even with its offensive weapons lost to graduation, Mount Olive College has garnered some respect among its Conference Carolinas women's soccer peers.

The Trojans were picked to finish fourth in the 2012 preseason poll.

"It is good to be recognized by other coaches in the conference as one of the strongest teams," sixth-year MOC head coach Matt Hisler said. "I think a ranking like fourth leaves us some room to catch some people by surprise."

Coaches tabbed reigning champion Lees-McRae to successfully defend its league championship. The Bobcats, who returun 16 letter-winners, received six first-place votes and edged runner-up Limestone in points -- 105-100.

The Saints collected two first-place votes.

"Being ranked top the Conference Carolinas is quite an honor, but one we do not take light as it is a conference full of talented teams and great coaches," L-MC head coach Nick Whiting said. "We will continue to improve our focus and work rate in order to be ready for the regular season."

Overall, five teams drew at least one first-place vote from the 12 coaches. Belmont Abbey was predicted to finish third, followed by MOC. Pfeiffer and Queens University of Charlotte, who combined for three first-place nods, were selected to end up fifth and sixth, respectively.

Second-year member King (Tenn.) was seventh, followed by Erskine, North Greenville, Converse, Coker and Barton.

There is no division championship this season.

Mount Olive lost most of its firepower, which ranked 19th nationally in scoring offense (2.35 goals per game) in 2011. Hisler welcomes back 10 letter-winners, including third-team all-Conference Carolinas performers Patrice Clarke and Mary Knepp.

"All of our seniors last year were key players for us," Hisler said. "However, our goal with each recruiting class is to improve the quality of our team. I believe we have hit the nail on the head with this year's class.

"We are bigger, faster and have improved our quality on the ball."

The Trojans launch their 2012 season at home Thursday against in-state Division II foe UNC Pembroke. Kickoff is 4 p.m. at Amon Field and is part of a doubleheader with the men's team.

MOC has not won a season opener since 2006.