Cowgirls picked to win 16th straight ASC soccer title

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RICHARDSON, Texas – Hardin-Simmons University has been picked to win the 2018 American Southwest Conference Women’s Soccer championship after a vote of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, the ASC office announced Wednesday (August 15).
 
Cowgirl senior forward Kenne Kessler and senior goalkeeper Caitlin Christiansen were selected as the ASC Preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively.
 
Hardin-Simmons (23-1 / 12-0 ASC) received 311 points in the preseason poll and recorded 25 out of a possible 26 first place votes. Reigning United Soccer Coaches West Region Coach of the Year Marcus Wood and the Cowgirls won their 15th consecutive ASC championship in 2017 and advance to the NCAA Championship semifinals. HSU was ranked fourth in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll. Led by Kessler on offense, the Cowgirls led the nation goals, assists and points.
 
Mary Hardin-Baylor (16-4-1 / 10-1-1 ASC) were second in the preseason poll with 281 points and one first place vote. The Cru tied for second during the regular season a year ago and reached the ASC Championship finals. UMHB also received an at-large bid for the 2017 NCAA Championship.
 
UT Dallas (16-4 / 10-2 ASC) were picked third in the poll after a third place finish last season. They were followed in the poll by East Texas Baptist (13-5-2 / 8-3-1 ASC), Sul Ross State (8-7-1 / 6-5-1 ASC), LeTourneau (9-7-3 / 5-5-2 ASC), Concordia Texas (10-8, 6-6 ASC), Howard Payne (5-9-1 / 4-8 ASC), Ozarks (7-9-1 / 3-8-1 ASC), McMurry (4-14 / 1-11 ASC), Belhaven (2-14-1/ 1-11 ASC) and Louisiana College (2-13-2 / 1-11 ASC).
 
McMurry completed the reclassifying process from NCAA Division II and will now be eligible for the ASC and NCAA Championships. Belhaven University enters its fourth and final year of transition into Division III athletics, but will not be eligible for selection to the NCAA Championship. UT Tyler will not count in the conference standing or be eligible for the NCAA and ASC Championships due to reclassifying to NCAA Division II. Patriot student-athletes will be eligible for all awards.
 
Kessler (Highland Village, Texas) was a First Team All-America selection by the United Soccer Coaches and D3soccer.com. She was also the D3soccer.com Forward of the Year, CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year and ASC Offensive Player of the Year. Kessler set the ASC record with 37 goals to go with 10 assists in 2017.
 
Christiansen (Albuquerque, N.M.) was a First Team All-West Region selection by the USC and a Scholar All-America. She ranked eighth in the nation with a 0.36 goals against average and 21st with a .873 save percentage while posting 48 saves.
 
Thirty-nine student-athletes were named to the ASC Women’s Soccer Players to Watch List. The list is composed of up to three players from each institution nominated by the head coaches. Thirty of the players submitted are returning all-conference selections including four individual award winners.
 
The 2018 season will get underway Friday, August 31 as eight ASC teams take the field in their season opener.
 
The ASC Championship Tournament is scheduled for Oct. 30, Nov. 2 and 4. The quarterfinals will be hosted by the top four seeds with the semifinals and championship game at the overall No. 1 seed. An automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Championship will be on the line.

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