MACON, Ga. - The Stetson women's soccer team was picked seventh in the annual Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, as announced by the league on Wednesday afternoon. Sophomore Colleen O'Kennedy was also recognized as a member of the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team.
The Hatters, who finished just out of the league playoffs in 2011 due to tiebreaker rules, were similarly selected one spot out of the top six in the 2012 preseason poll. Stetson, with 37 points, was picked ahead of USC Upstate (10th, 16), Lipscomb (9th, 34) and newcomer to the league Northern Kentucky (8th, 35).
"We've never been ranked very high, which is fine," Head Coach Julie Orlowski said in regards to the poll. "We like playing that underdog role. I think that this year more than ever the poll really doesn't mean much, because we've had a lot of turnover in our conference. A number of the top players have graduated so many teams are in a rebuilding period."
Last year's league champion FGCU was at the top of the poll with five first place votes and 91 points. Jacksonville and ETSU weren't far behind, with 85 points and 80 points, respectively. Kennesaw State and North Florida tied for fourth with 63 points each, while Mercer was just ahead of the Hatters with 46 points.
Following a Second Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honor following her freshman season in 2011, O'Kennedy was named to the 11-member Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team on Wednesday. The sophomore was one of only three midfielders on the list. A playmaker in the center of the field, O'Kennedy scored one goal and tallied one assist while starting every game in her first season at Stetson.
"It could be difficult for someone who plays her role to get recognition, because her main goal is to make everyone else look good," Orlowski said of O'Kennedy. "For her to be recognized for her play so early in her career is a testament to her hard work. All of the experience that she gained last year as a freshman will be invaluable moving forward."
"I'm very excited about the team this year, and we're all excited to get going and really start to compete," Orlowski continued. "We still have that bad taste in our mouth about how the season ended last year, having our fate in our own hands and not taking advantage of it. Now we get the opportunity to get that taste out of our mouth and get off to a new start."
The Hatters begin the season on August 17th on the road at Florida International at 7:00 p.m. Stetson will return home on August 19th to play at the newly renovated Stetson Soccer Complex against Georgia Southern at 1:00 p.m.