Wednesday February 10th, 2016 5:56AM

Lady Lions soccer picked to defend USA South title

By staff reports
DEMOREST -- After having claimed the 2013 USA South Championship Tournament title, the Piedmont College women's soccer team has been picked to repeat that feat as the league's Preseason Coaches Poll was released earlier today with the Lady Lions atop the listing, finishing just one point ahead of long-time conference rival, Maryville College. The USA South poll, as voted on by the 13 coaches of women's soccer in the league, has the Lady Lions taking the #1 spot after earning 137 total points while the Scots of Maryville, who visit Walker Athletic Complex later this season, claimed 136 total points.<br /> <br /> "It is a great honor to be picked preseason #1 by the other coaches," said Head Women's Soccer Coach Stephen Andrew of the poll result released today. "It speaks to how well our program has competed in the USA South with some of the region's best women's soccer programs as fellow conference members. The next step now is to use this extra motivation to fulfill the expectations of our team and defend our title from last season."<br /> <br /> Maryville claimed the USA South regular season title in 2013 finishing with a 10-1-1 overall record including a 2-1 result over Piedmont, the Lady Lions' only loss in conference play as PC finished 9-1-2 to place two points behind the Scots in the league table. Piedmont went on to win three straight one-goal games during the USA South Championship Tournament earning the program's first conference crown since leaping from the Great South Athletic Conference in 2012-13, a league that saw the Lady Lions exit as the 2011 GSAC champions just three seasons ago.<br /> <br /> Meredith College, who fell to PC in the conference final, finished 3rd in the voting with 111 total points while Methodist finished 4th (110 points) as the only other team besides Maryville and Piedmont to claim a first place vote. Piedmont claimed seven of the 13 available first place nods while Maryville claimed five itself and the Monarchs accounted for the lone remaining top spot placement.<br /> <br /> Rounding out the poll was 5th place Averett (109 total points), 6th place Covenant (95), 7th place Greensboro (70), 8th place LaGrange (60), 9th place N.C. Wesleyan (56), 10th place Ferrum (52), 11th place Huntingdon (43), 12th place William Peace (23), and 13th place Mary Baldwin (12).<br /> <br /> Piedmont returns 15 letter winners from last year's championship team though the squad lost six of the 11 who started the 2013 USA South championship game against Meredith. The Lady Lions must fill the shoes of several key losses from last season including one of the league's top scorers in Capital One Academic All-American Laura Goodwin as Piedmont returns less than half of those accountable for its 52 scores in 2013.<br /> <br /> The 2014 season will begin for the Lady Lions when they head to Maryville College for a tournament hosted by their conference colleague opening up against Hanover College, a team also picked to win their league after a record-setting season in 2013 that has the Panthers receiving votes in the NSCAA National Poll. The Panthers are one of two NCAA Tournament teams on the schedule for Piedmont in the Lady Lions' first four games as the road to defending the crown is full of challenging turns for Andrew and his team.<br /> <br /> Martinsville, Virginia will once again serve as the site for the final two rounds of the USA South Championship Tournament which will be hosted at Smith River Sports Complex. The first round games of the conference tournament will continue to be held on the campuses of the higher seeded team and will take place on Saturday, November 1. The top-eight seeded teams after the conclusion of regular season competition will advance to the tournament.
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