Big South Announces 2014 Women's Soccer Preseason Awards and Poll

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) – Defending Women’s Soccer champion Liberty University has been unanimously voted the preseason favorite in the Big South Conference Women’s Soccer preseason poll by the League’s head coaches, it was announced today by the Conference office.  In addition, the coaches voted Winthrop senior forward Krystyna Freda the Preseason Attacking Player of the Year and Liberty redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Holly Van Noord the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

The Lady Flames collected all 11 first-place votes and 121 total points in being voted the preseason favorite for the first time since 2010 and sixth time overall.  Last season, Liberty went 16-6-1 overall and finished second in the Big South with an 8-2-1 League record.  The Lady Flames won their fourth Big South Women’s Soccer Championship last season after defeating two-time defending champion Radford in the title game.

The Highlanders were voted second behind Liberty with 101 points, while Longwood was third with 90 points.  Coastal Carolina (88 points) and High Point (81 points) round out the preseason top five.  Winthrop claimed the sixth spot with 77 points, while Charleston Southern and Presbyterian College tied for seventh-place with 40 points each.  Campbell garnered ninth-place with 37 points, while UNC Asheville was 10th with 28 points.  Gardner-Webb finished 11th with 23 points.

Freda is the Conference’s reigning two-time Attacking Player of the Year.  She led the Big South last season in goals (17), points (39) and shots (106).  An NSCAA All-Southeast Region Second-Team selection in 2013, Freda recorded five multi-goal matches last year and was among the NCAA’s Top 20 in goals and points scored a year ago.  Already the Big South’s career leader with 19 game-winning goals, Freda enters 2014 third all-time in League history with 47 career goals and needs seven to become the all-time leader.  She is also looking to become the Big South’s first three-time Attacking Player of the Year honoree.  Freda picked up 10 first-place votes and 32 total points in the voting, ahead of Liberty’s Brittany Aanderud, who finished second with 17 points and received the remaining first-place vote.

Van Noord (Hudsonville, Mich.) is the first Liberty player to receive Preseason Player of the Year honors since the award began in 2005.  A Second-Team All-Big South honoree as a redshirt-freshman last season, Van Noord set the single-season Big South and Liberty record with 14 shutouts a year ago while leading the League in goals against average (0.72) and save percentage (.850).  She was an NSCAA All-Southeast Region Third-Team selection, VaSID First-Team All-State and the VaSID Women’s Soccer Rookie of the Year in 2013.  Van Noord collected eight first-place votes and 28 total points, ahead of Radford’s Stephanie Herb, who was second in the voting with 12 points (two first-place votes).

The 2014 Big South women’s soccer season begins Friday, Aug. 22 with 10 of the League’s 11 teams in action, while Conference play opens Wednesday, Sept. 24.  The 2014 Big South Women’s Soccer Championship tournament is slated for Oct. 31-Nov. 9, with quarterfinal games at the home sites of the top four seeds the weekend of Oct. 31-Nov. 2, followed by the Semifinals (Nov. 7) and Finals (Nov. 9) at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C.  The top eight teams qualify for the tournament, with the champion receiving the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

2014 Big South Conference Preseason Women's Soccer Poll

RkTeam (first-place votes)Points
1.Liberty (11)121
2.Radford101
3.Longwood90
4.Coastal Carolina88
5.High Point81
6.Winthrop77
T-7.Charleston Southern40
T-7.Presbyterian College40
9.Campbell37
10.UNC Asheville28
11.Gardner-Webb23