RICHARDSON, Texas -- Defending NCAA Division III national champion Hardin-Simmons has been predicted to win its ninth consecutive and 14th overall American Southwest Conference women's soccer title, it was announced on Wednesday (Aug. 24) by the ASC office after a vote of the league's head coaches and sports information directors. Taking preseason player of the year honors were HSU's Katie Kuykendall and Brittany Vacca.
Hardin-Simmons, which went 24-0-1 overall (13-0 ASC) last season, totaled 449 points and received all but one of the possible 30 first-place votes to be the favorite in the annual preseason poll. Head coach Marcus Wood's top-ranked Cowgirls have gone 132 games without losing to an ASC opponent and claimed seven consecutive regular season crowns. HSU had 113 goals and allowed only six scores on its way to becoming the ASC's first national champion in women's soccer. The Cowgirls topped Messiah 2-1 in the NCAA title game.
Texas-Tyler (14-5, 11-2 ASC) was picked to finish as the runner-up with 414 points. Head coach Stefani Webb's Patriots reached the conference title game last season. Two-time ASC champion Texas-Dallas (12-6-2, 10-2-1 ASC) was the choice for third place with 394 points and the other first-place vote. Mississippi College (8-4-1, 12-5-2 ASC) received 341 points to be the fourth-place pick. Howard Payne (11-5-3, 8-3-2 ASC) totaled 319 points to be in the fifth position and Concordia Texas (10-6-3, 7-4-2 ASC) had 287 points to round out what would be the league's six teams to qualify for the ASC Championship Tournament.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (258 pts.) was picked to finish seventh, followed by East Texas Baptist (235 pts.), new league member Centenary (219 pts.) and Texas Lutheran (183 pts.) to conclude the top 10 spots. Schreiner (162 pts.) was eleventh, followed by LeTourneau (126 pts.), McMurry (91 pts.), Ozarks (70 pts.) and Louisiana College (53 pts.).
Kuykendall (Weatherford, TX / WHS), a junior midfielder/forward, has been named ASC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. She posted a conference-record 24 assists and added 10 goals last season. Kuykendall was also named MVP of the conference tournament.
Vacca (Abilene, TX / Wylie HS), a senior defender, has been selected as ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. She spearheaded a unit that posted a conference-record 19 shutouts and allowed just 0.24 goals per game last year. Vacca also took home the league's defensive player of the year honor.
Kuykendall and Vacca were each D3Soccer.com all-Americans and first team all-ASC selections last season.
The 2011 ASC season - the 16th in league history - begins as early as September 1. The six-team, single-elimination ASC tournament is slated for November 4-6 at the site of the regular season champion and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship will be on the line.
NOTE: Centenary is ineligible for ASC and NCAA postseason play as a reclassifying Division III member.
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