FRISCO, Texas – Stephen F. Austin has been picked to win the 2012 Southland Conference soccer regular-season championship in polls conducted by the league’s coaches and sports information directors, the conference office announced Wednesday.
The Ladyjacks are coming off a season in which they posted a perfect 9-0-0 conference record and finished 15-3-1 overall, which tied for the most wins in school history. Stephen F. Austin returns 10 starters to a team that set a school record with an .816
winning percentage. SFA received eight first-place votes from the coaches and seven from the SIDs to earn a total of 64 and 63 total points, respectively. The Ladyjacks led the league in goals scored (60) and shutouts (eight) last season. Returning for the
Ladyjacks this season is senior midfielder Kylie Louw, who set a conference record with 14 assists. The two-time conference player of the year spent the summer representing South Africa in the Olympics.
Lamar was picked second by both the coaches and SIDs and received one first-place vote from each. The Lady Cardinals finished 9-8-2 last season with a 6-2-1 record in conference play to finish third. Lamar received 52 total points from the coaches and 51
from SIDs. First-year coach Orlando Cervantes will lead a talented team that returns eight starters, including junior defender Amber Thornhill. Thornhill will anchor a defense that notched three shutouts and allowed only 0.78 goals per game in conference play.
Southeastern Louisiana, which was picked third in both polls, is coming off a fifth-place finish in league play with a 5-4-0 mark and an 11-7-1 overall record. The Lady Lions return nine starters from last year’s team in addition to senior goalkeeper Lacey
Bockhaus, who missed the 2011 season. Bockhaus led the conference with nine shutouts in 2010 and was named co-player of the year that season. Southeastern received 44 total points from the coaches and 49 total points, including the final first-place nod from
Sam Houston State received 41 points in the coaches’ poll and 42 points in the SID poll to place fourth in both polls. The Bearkats return all 11 starters to a team that reached the semifinals of the conference tournament. Sam Houston finished the 2011 season
with a 9-11-2 overall record and a mark of 4-5-0 in league play, which placed sixth in the final standings. Junior forward Tricia Mallory headlines the Bearkats’ offense after leading the team in goals (eight) and assists (five) a season ago.
New to the Southland this season is Oral Roberts, which was tabbed fifth in each poll. The Golden Eagles earned 36 total points from the coaches and 38 from the SIDs. ORU returns eight starters to a team that finished 7-10-2 overall last season. Coach Ryan
Bush enters his fifth season at ORU and leads a team headlined by Jennifer Abernathy and Lauren Parks on the pitch. Abernathy and Parks both recorded two goals last season with Abernathy notching an assist.
Coming in sixth in the coaches’ poll and seventh in the SID poll was Northwestern State. The Lady Demons return 18 letterwinners and eight starters from a team that finished eighth a year ago with a 2-6-1 conference record. The Lady Demons will be under
the new direction of George Van Linder, who enters his first season in Natchitoches.
McNeese State was selected seventh by the coaches and sixth by the SIDs after the Cowgirls finished last season in seventh place with a 3-6-0 conference record. The Cowgirls return seven starters, including junior midfielder Johna Germany, who led the team
in assists (four) and was second in points (14) and goals (five) in 2011.
Central Arkansas was slated to finish eighth by both the coaches and SIDs. The Bears are seeking to earn their first trip to the conference tournament after finishing last year with a 1-7-1 conference record. UCA is coached by Jeremy Bishop, who is in his
third year in Conway and first season as head coach.
Rounding out both polls in the ninth spot was Nicholls State, which is coming off another historic season after matching a program-high six wins. The Colonels, who have only two seniors on the squad, return six starters and 13 letterwinners.
The 2012 Southland soccer season begins Aug. 15 with conference play beginning Sept. 28. The conference tournament will be held Nov. 1-4 at Cowgirl Field on the campus of McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La. The championship match will be televised
on the Southland Conference Television Network, available live on more than 20 affiliates across the league's four-state region. In addition, all games of the tournament will be streamed live on the new Southland Conference Digital Network, available at
southland.org and on the league’s iPhone and Android mobile and tablet apps.