by Benny Benton
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The Barton College women's soccer team tied for fifth place in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll, the league announced Thursday.
Fifth is the same spot where the Lady Bulldogs placed last season, and marked Barton's highest league finish since 2013. BC reached the conference tournament for the fourth straight season after a mark of 5-5-1 in the league.
"It's nice to have the conference see our girls as a playoff contender this year," said Thomas Goines, who begins his third season as the team's head coach. "But there is a still a lot of work ahead us in conference play to earn that opportunity. We were able to outperform expectations last fall, and we will look to do it again this year."
Barton, which finished 6-11-1 overall last season, returns 22 players from that roster, including seven who started 10 matches or more.
Taylor Doeble is the leading scorer among returnees, having produced nine points on three goals and three assists. The senior from Punta Gorda, Fla., has seven career goals, four of them game-winners, and seven career assists.
The Lady Bulldogs will look to a pair of transfers to help spark the offense. Laisy Scardazzi was an all-conference and all-region selection last year at Young Harris College, scoring seven goals and adding four assists, and Rebekah Beal led Chowan University in scoring last season with 13 goals, including the only goal in a 1-0 win over Barton in Murfreesboro, N.C.
Limestone College, which went 11-0 in the league last season and also won the Conference Carolinas Tournament, was chosen by the coaches to repeat as champions. The Saints received seven first-place votes and 97 total points.
Belmont Abbey College was not far behind, however, claiming the other four first-place votes and 94 points. The Crusaders went 10-1 in the conference in 2016.
Lees-McRae College, which bumped Barton from the league tournament a season ago, was picked to finish third, and Converse College was chosen to place fourth. BC tied with King University for fifth place with 60 points each, followed closely by University of Mount Olive in seventh with 58 points.
Further behind in eighth place with 37 points was Southern Wesleyan University, with Erskine College, Chowan and North Greenville University rounding out the 11-team poll.
Barton will kick off its season with a home tournament. The Lady Bulldogs will host Anderson University in the BC Classic on September 1 and Catawba College on September 2. The University of Missouri-St. Louis will round out the four-team tournament field.
"We are eager to get this year underway," Goines said. "The girls have brought a great energy and team-first attitude into our preseason. We are hoping for a very special year on and off the field."
|Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer|
|2017 Preseason Coaches Poll|
|1.||Limestone College||97 (7)|
|2.||Belmont Abbey College||94 (4)|
|7.||University of Mount Olive||58|
|8.||Southern Wesleyan University||37|
|11.||North Greenville University||18|