First Place Votes Awarded to Three Teams
FOREST, Va. --- The University of Lynchburg is expected to retool and remain on top of the conference in 2019 as the conference's head coaches as the Hornets sit atop the ODAC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll. Lynchburg collected 166 total points including 10 first place votes. Virginia Wesleyan University and Bridgewater College are separated by just three points for second place with 149 and 146 markers, respectively. They cleaned up the remaining first place votes with each earning two top nods.
Three additional squads garnered more than 100 points. Randolph-Macon College sits fourth with 131 tallies, while just one point back is Washington and Lee University with 130 markers. Roanoke College picked up 111 points to chime in sixth in the annual survey.
The 2018 campaign saw a familiar team lift the league trophy with Lynchburg securing an ODAC-best 16th conference women's soccer title. It didn't come without some nervy moments, however, as Lynchburg needed a double-overtime winner to get past Washington and Lee in the quarterfinals. Top-seeded Bridgewater served as host for the final four, but fourth-seeded Virginia Wesleyan earned a 1-0 semifinal win over the homestanding Eagles to earn one spot in the final. Lynchburg rebounded from a tight matchup against W&L in the quarterfinals to post a 5-1 victory over second-seeded Randolph-Macon in the second semifinal.
Lynchburg's offense kept churning out goals in the conference final versus VWU. Caitlin Mertens gave the Hornets an early tally in the second minute, but it was two second half goals from Hannah Olds that put the game away, 3-0, and awarded Lynchburg its eighth ODAC title in the last nine years.
RELATED: 2018 ODAC Tournament Results
The NCAA Division III Tournament featured three ODAC teams for the second time in three seasons. The conference's automatic qualifier, Lynchburg was joined by Virginia Wesleyan and Bridgewater in the field of 64 teams. For the Eagles, the occasion marked the program's first-ever berth in the national bracket. Their stay, however, was not as long as they liked as Bridgewater was edged by Hope College, 1-0, in the first round.
Virginia Wesleyan's two-game experience featured a bit of drama. In the first round, Brooke Adamchak scored the game's lone goal in the 92nd minute for a 1-0 overtime victory over New York University. The Marlins took on host Swarthmore College in round two. Marin McCoy scored the first of her two goals in the second minute as the host Garnet earned a 3-0 victory over VWU.
Lynchburg came up one game short of qualifying for the program's third trip to the national semifinals. Selected to host first and second round games, the Hornets took down Piedmont College, 2-1, and Emory University, 2-0, in successfully defending Shellenberger Field. Then came a trip towards the coast to Christopher Newport University. Lynchburg played fellow national-power Messiah College to a 2-2 tie thru a pair of overtime periods. The Hornets advanced after topping the Falcons, 3-2, from the penalty spot. What proved to be Lynchburg's final game of 2018 came against the host Captains in the quarterfinals. CNU got an 82nd minute tally to register the game's lone goal for a 1-0 win.
RELATED: 2018 NCAA Tournament Results
In what has become a trend in ODAC women's soccer, an abundance of talent returns to league rosters in 2019 with 24 of the 39 All-ODAC honorees from a season ago back on league pitches. That doesn't mean, however, that some teams don't need to retool to experience success in the new campaign. That's exactly the case for Lynchburg and reigning ODAC Coach of the Year, Dr. Todd Olsen, as the Hornets graduated much of their starting lineup including all seven of their 2018 all-conference athletes. Still, the expectation that Lynchburg will reorganize and benefit from its depth extends beyond local opinions. Lynchburg opens the season ranked 11th by the United Soccer Coaches in its annual preseason top-25 poll.
No one features more returning award winners than Bridgewater as the Eagles welcome back seven of their eight honorees from a season ago. That list is headlined by All-ODAC First Team midfielder and 2018 ODAC Rookie of the Year, Hanna Randolph. She's joined by a trio of All-ODAC Second Team choices in midfielder Catherine Haufe and defenders Savannah Cowan and Sydney Ryan. Three more from the All-ODAC Third Team further bolster BC's roster in forward Hunter Collier, defender Cyan Coates, and goalkeeper Sydney Davis.
Six athletes overall return from last season's All-ODAC First Team. Randolph-Macon boasts a pair of those standouts in forward Gabby Nelson and midfielder Casey Kent. Roanoke welcomes back goalkeeper Chris Martin, while Shenandoah University features forward Emily Yergin, who is closing in on 50 career goals scored (currently at 48). The remaining first team returner dons Washington and Lee colors with defender Erin Hoeh back for her second season in Lexington.
RELATED: 2018 All-ODAC Awards
The 2019 schedule begins with non-conference play on Friday, August 30. The start of conference play is staggered this season, with the first contest slated for Sunday, September 15. The regular season closes on Saturday, November 2 with tournament playing opening for nine squads on Monday, November 4. The quarterfinals will be contested Wednesday, November 6 with the highest remaining seed hosting the semifinals and championship on Saturday-Sunday, November 9-10.
Listed below is the 2019 ODAC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll. Be sure to check out the preseason capsules for each team as well (online version only click HERE for the online release).
For more information on ODAC women's soccer, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.