ROCK HILL, S.C. --- The Tusculum University women's soccer team has been picked to finish fifth in the South Atlantic Conference in a poll of the league's 11 head coaches, the SAC office announced Monday.
The Pioneers had four players selected to the preseason All-Conference team, voted on by the media relations offices of each SAC member. Senior forward Jordan Newby, junior midfielder Sonja Ballmert, senior defender Nicole McMillen and sophomore defender Kenzie Ellenburg were all voted to the SAC preseason team.
The Pioneers were 10-7-1 last season and finished fourth in the SAC with a 7-3 record, advancing to the SAC Championship semifinals before being eliminated in overtime by eventual national runner-up Carson-Newman.
Newby was named honorable mention All-SAC after she led the Pioneers with six goals last season and ranked second on the team with 12 points. Five of her six goals came in conference matches, including an overtime game-winner in a 2-1 victory at Catawba on Oct. 21. Newby was also a SAC All-Tournament selection after scoring a goal in regulation and in penalty kicks in the Pioneers' win over Lenoir-Rhyne in the SAC quarterfinals. The Clinton, Tenn. native missed nearly two full seasons due to injury, but has eight goals and three assists for 19 points in 38 career matches.
Ballmert was an honorable mention All-SAC selection for the second straight year after she led the Pioneers in points with 14 on the strength of five goals and four assists. Four of her five goals came in regular-season conference matches, with the fifth against Carson-Newman in the SAC Championship semifinals. The Frankfurt, Germany native was a SAC Player of the Week selection last season after scoring back-to-back game-winning goals against Lincoln Memorial and Lenoir-Rhyne, and was also a member of the SAC All-Tournament team. Ballmert has seven goals and seven assists for 21 points in 36 career matches.
McMillen is a three-year starter on defense for the Pioneers, and contributed on offense last season with four assists. Her first assist came in the Pioneers' 2-1 comeback win at Lenoir-Rhyne on Sept. 16, and she also added a helper in a 6-0 win over Coker on Oct. 8 and two assists in a 3-0 victory against Mars Hill on Oct. 13. The Pickering, Ontario native has made 50 career starts for the Pioneers.
Ellenburg was the Pioneers' defensive Most Valuable Player last season after stepping in as a freshman and earning a starting spot on the back line. The Mosheim, Tenn. native and graduate of nearby Greeneville High School started 13 of the 16 games in which she played, helping the Pioneers to six shutout wins.
Carson-Newman received 10 of 11 first-place votes to take the top spot in the poll with 110 points, followed by Queens with 98 points, Wingate with 89 points (and the other first-place vote) and Lenoir-Rhyne in fourth with 82 points. After Tusculum with 73 points came Catawba with 58, Anderson with 53 and Lincoln Memorial in eighth with 46 points. The final three spots went to Newberry with 39 points, Mars Hill with 25 and Coker with 21.
The Pioneers kick off the 2018 season on Friday, August 31 at 5 p.m. against Nova Southeastern at Pioneer Field.
2018 SAC Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll
Rk School (1st), Pts
1. Carson-Newman (10), 110
2. Queens, 98
3. Wingate (1), 89
4. Lenoir-Rhyne, 82
5. TUSCULUM, 73
6. Catawba, 58
7. Anderson, 53
8. Lincoln Memorial, 46
9. Newberry, 39
10. Mars Hill, 25
11. Coker, 21
2018 SAC Women's Soccer Preseason All-Conference
F – Holly Talbut-Smith, Carson-Newman
F – Magda Mosengo, Carson-Newman
F – Charlotte Ring, Queens
F – Emma Rose Stockton, Queens
MF – Kimmi Moore, Wingate
MF – Abbie Brown, Lenoir-Rhyne
MF – Courtney Velazquez, Newberry
MF – Abigael McGarel, Lenoir-Rhyne
D – Caileigh Apicella, Wingate
D – Alex Brandan, Carson-Newman
D – Averi Williams, Carson-Newman
D – Christina Shimshock, Lenoir-Rhyne
GK – Jacqueline Burns, Carson-Newman
F – Lulu Phan, Queens
F – Emilee Futrell, Carson-Newman
F – Jordan Newby, Tusculum
F – Megan Foster, Anderson
MF – Jovana Sanchez, Catawba
MF – Sonja Ballmert, Tusculum
MF – Daphne Heyaime, Newberry
MF – Melanie Maddox, Anderson
D – Kristin Debiase, Wingate
D – Courtney Boyd, Lincoln Memorial
D – Kenzie Ellenburg, Tusculum
D – Nicole McMillen, Tusculum
GK – Samantha Hoffman, Coker