With an overall league mark of 17-0-3 in the last two seasons, the Murray State Racers are again the favorite in the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll released by the league office in Brentwood, Tennessee Tuesday.
The Racers, under the guidance of head coach Jeremy Groves
, were the OVC regular season champions in 2015 and shared the title in 2016 with Eastern Kentucky.
Voting for the OVC poll came from the head coaches and sports information contacts. Voters were not allowed to select their own team.
The Racers are the top team in the predictions, as they received 10 first place votes and 184 total vote points. SIUE is a strong second place with six first place votes and 168 points, while the other first place votes went to third place Eastern Kentucky with four and fourth place Tennessee Tech with two. Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State shared fifth place, while Belmont, Morehead State, Jacksonville State, UT Martin and Eastern Illinois rounded out the poll.
As the Racers get set for the season, they're happy to return senior forward Harriet Withers
. The two-time OVC offensive MVP has 25 career goals and will likely make a run at all-time mark at MSU of 34 by Theresa Reedy (2001-04). MSU also returns All-OVC defender Nyomi Devine
and All-OVC Newcomer Karsyn Hasch
, also a defender. Junior goalkeeper Alex Steigerwald
is back this season after making 90 saves in 2016, which was third in the OVC.
The Racers play their first three matches at home at Cutchin Field with exhibition games Friday (Aug. 11) against Evansville and Western Kentucky (Aug. 13). MSU hosts Marshall (Aug. 20) for the regular season opener. MSU opens OVC play at Morehead State (Sept. 14).
The OVC Soccer Championship will expand to eight teams this season. The first rounds and quarterfinals will take place Oct. 27 and 29 at the campus of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. The semifinals and championship will be on the campus of the No. 1 seed on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5.
2017 OVC WOMEN'S SOCCER PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
(As selected by the OVC Women's Head Soccer Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
Murray State (10 first-place votes) – 184 points
SIUE (Six first-place votes) - 168
Eastern Kentucky (Four first-place votes) - 164
Tennessee Tech (Two first-place votes) - 157
Austin Peay - 121
Southeast Missouri - 121
Belmont - 95
Morehead State - 76
Jacksonville State - 54
UT Martin - 50
Eastern Illinois - 20