High Point, NC- The Queens University of Charlotte women’s soccer team has been picked as the preseason favorite by Conference Carolinas league head coaches for the upcoming season. For the first time in Head Coach Katie Talbert’s four year tenure at Queens, the Royals have been selected for this top preseason honor. Queens, who finished the 2008 regular season as Conference Carolinas Co-Champions, looks to defend the title and continue the tradition of great women’s soccer. Talbert, who is very excited and honored to be selected as No. 1, sees the season as one with no ceiling.

“I am very excited to get the regular season started,” said Talbert. “The student-athletes this year, and in seasons past, have worked hard to establish a tradition of excellence. The players are ready to uphold that tradition, uphold the high standards we have set for ourselves and also the high standards others have set for us.”

The Royals know the season will be a challenging one, but with the help of new players and the experience the returning players bring to the pitch, Queens is ready to tackle the challenge head on.

Pfeiffer University women’s soccer team comes in at No. 2 in this year’s preseason poll as voted on by league head coaches. The Lady Falcons finished third in regular season play compiling a 14-9 overall and 8-3 conference record, before defeating Erskine and top-seeds Queens and Belmont Abbey to claim the 2008 Conference Carolinas tournament championship. With the tournament title in hand, the Lady Falcons clinched an automatic berth into the NCAA DII regional tournament, falling in the first round to region foe UNC-Pembroke 2-1.

Pfeiffer welcomes back the top six scorers from last season for first year head coach Elijah Denton, including the team’s top scorer Kirsten Bartsch. Bartsch, one of five seniors looking to lead the Lady Falcons to another banner year in ‘09, led last season’s squad with 14 goals. The goalkeeping tandem of Jamie Alcala and Suzie Hinman also return to anchor the Lady Falcons defense.

Belmont Abbey is third in this year’s poll after a run of three straight years in the No. 1 preseason spot. The team is coming off of a great 2008 campaign compiling a 17-3-3 overall, 10-0-1 league record, and a share of the Conference Carolinas regular season title. The Crusaders, under first year head coach Robert Lane, will return their top seven scorers from last year’s outfit that also advanced to the Conference Carolinas championship match for the fourth-straight season. The Abbey enters the year unbeaten in 39 of its last 40 matches against league opponents. Returning is the reigning Conference Player of the Year Celene Molera and Freshman of the Year Connie Axiotis. Molera led the league with 14 goals, while Axiotis tallied eight.

Rounding out the poll 4-12 was: Limestone, Barton, Mount Olive, Erskine, Anderson, Lees-McRae, St. Andrews, Coker, and Converse respectively.

Conference Carolinas Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll (# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)

  1. Queens (5) 115
  2. Pfeiffer (5) 109
  3. Belmont Abbey (2) 103
  4. Limestone 81
  5. Barton 77
  6. Mount Olive 67
  7. Erskine 65
  8. Anderson 60
  9. Lees-McRae 40
  10. St. Andrews 35
  11. Coker 23
  12. Converse 17