LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – In a vote by the league's head coaches, Trinity University was selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2017 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) women's soccer championship.
Trinity earned six of the seven first-place votes to total 48 points in the preseason polling. Last season, the Tigers finished 23-1 and was a perfect 12-0 in conference play - extending its current unbeaten streak in regular season conference play to 84 consecutive matches. Adding in SCAC tournament victories, Trinity has won 96 consecutive matches against conference competition - the longest current streak in NCAA Division III women's soccer.
The Tigers return seven starters from the 2016 season and are ranked fifth by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Division III Preseason Poll.
Southwestern University was the coaches' second selection, garnering 41 points in the preseason polling, and earning one first-place vote. The Pirates are coming off of a strong season, where the team posted an 11-8 record, the most wins for the program since 2007. Third-Year Head Coach Linda Hamilton returns the 2016 Newcomer of the Year, Mary Cardone, and the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, Mallory Harkins. The team also returns two other players who earned All-SCAC recognition.
Texas Lutheran University, with 33 points, was selected to finish third by the league's head coaches. The Bulldogs finished the 2016 season with an overall mark of 9-5-4, and 6-3-3 in the SCAC and was the third seed in the conference tournament. Head Coach Larry Schaffer returns five starters from the 2016 squad.
Coming in fourth in the preseason rankings with 32 points was Schreiner University. After a fourth-place finish during the 2016 regular season, the Mountaineers (9-8-3 overall; 6-5-1 SCAC) advanced to the SCAC semifinals, but fell to eventual champion, Trinity, 1-0. The 2016 campaign will be head coach Nick Morrison’s fifth season at the helm of the Mountaineers’ program, and he is returning most of the 2016 team, including four All-SCAC players.
University of Dallas and Centenary College both earned 16 points to tie for fifth in the preseason balloting.
University of Dallas will have a new face at the helm this year, with Lexi Stinson beginning her first season as Head Coach in 2017. The team posted an overall record of 4-13-2, 1-9-2 in SCAC play. Dallas tied for sixth place in the standings, but did not make the league tournament after tiebreakers were applied. The Crusaders return most of the 2016 team, while also adding seven freshmen.
Centenary College will also feature a new Head Coach this season, with Greg Cathell beginning his career with the Ladies this fall. Centenary finished last season with a 7-11 record overall, going 4-8 in league action. The Ladies earned a trip to the conference tournament last season, but fell in double-overtime to the host, Schreiner. The team will add 11 newcomers this season, including 10 freshmen and one transfer.
Finishing seventh in the preseason coaches' rankings was Austin College. The 'Roos (3-13-2 overall; 1-9-2 SCAC) will be led by second-year head coach David Sheridan. The team returns all three All-SCAC players from last season, and will add four freshmen to the squad. The ‘Roos fell in the quarterfinals of the SCAC tournament last year, coming up just short against Texas Lutheran in a double-overtime battle.
2017 SCAC Predicted Order of Finish
1. Trinity University - 48 points (6)
2. Southwestern University - 41 points
3. Texas Lutheran University - 33 points
4. Schreiner University - 32 points
T-5. Centenary College - 16 points
T-5. University of Dallas - 16 points
7. Austin College - 10 points
(Seven points were awarded for a first-place vote, six points for a second-place, down to one point for a seventh-place vote. First-place votes in parenthesis.)