SAINT LEO, Fla. -- Saint Leo University women's soccer finished five places higher in the final 2013 Sunshine State Conference standings than it was predicted to finish in last season's SSC preseason poll.
If the Lions can show a similar improvement in 2014, they'll be in a very good place indeed.
Saint Leo was selected fourth in the 2014 SSC Preseason Women's Soccer Poll, conducted among the league's head coaches and released Wednesday. The Lions received 39 points in the balloting.
The Lions, who posted a 10-7 overall record a year ago and went 5-3 in the Sunshine State Conference, return the conference's 2013 player of the year and freshman of the year in sophomore forward Arielle Kabangu. The Ottawa, Ontario, Canada native paced all of Division II in her rookie campaign with 22 goals, and added five assists for 49 points.
Saint Leo also returns the services of Second Team All-SSC sophomore forward Saffron Jordan, who charted four goals and six assists during the 2013 campaign.
Rollins College, ranked 14th in the NSCAA Division II poll, earned the top spot in the SSC preseason poll with 60 points, including four first-place votes. Barry University garnered the remaining five first-place votes and trailed the Tars by just one point, while 18th-ranked Tampa was third in the poll with 51 points.
Trailing Saint Leo were Florida Tech (38 pts.), Florida Southern (30 pts.), Nova Southeastern (22 pts.), Lynn (15 pts.), and Eckerd College (10 pts.).
The Lions open their 2014 regular season on Friday, Aug. 29, when they travel to DeLand, Fla., to face Stetson University; Saint Leo makes its home debut on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 7:00 p.m. versus Spring Hill College.
2014 Sunshine State Conference Preseason Women's Soccer Poll
Rank – Team, Points (1st-place votes)
1 – Rollins, 60 (4)
2 – Barry, 59 (5)
3 – Tampa, 51
4 – Saint Leo, 39
5 – Florida Tech, 38
6 – Florida Southern, 30
7 – Nova Southeastern, 22
8 – Lynn, 15
9 – Eckerd, 10