Tuesday, 09 August 2022 18:51


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RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. –  On Tuesday, the Great American Conference announced the results of its 2022 women’s soccer preseason coaches’ poll. Southwestern Oklahoma State claimed five of the seven first-place votes from the league’s head coaches to enter the season as the favorite. Ouachita Baptist finished second in the balloting.

In 2021, the Bulldogs won their fifth GAC regular-season title. They claimed an at-large berth to the NCAA Central Regional Championships, their fourth tournament appearance in the last 10 years. Midfielder Brianna Benitez led SWOSU with 12 goals and 29 points and earned a spot on the All-GAC First Team. Brenna McGuirk, the team’s second-leading scorer also returns. For the first time since 2018, Alimata Rabo will don the Bulldogs colors. From 2016 to 2018, she twice earned the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. She scored 74 goals and 180 points in 60 career games. 

The Tigers received two first-place votes following a 9-7-2 season. They return their two First-Team All-GAC honorees in midfielder Jaymee Dotson and goalkeeper Michele Snow. Dotson added the GAC Midfielder of the Year honor after she led the team with six goals and 16 points. Snow led the conference in saves and saves percentage.

Oklahoma Baptist finished third in the voting. The Bison defeated the Bulldogs in the final of the GAC Championships to win their second GAC title. Defender Maddison Williams returns after she anchored a defense that led the conference with eight shutouts. Goalkeeper Ireland Jeffrey posted 0.89 goals-against average, the lowest mark in the conference.

Northwestern Oklahoma State edged out Harding by one point to place fourth. Last season, the Rangers earned their best seed for the GAC Championships after they finished third with a 6-4-2 league record.  Tiara Campbell unanimously won the GAC Newcomer of the Year honor after she scored a league-leading 20 goals. Head coach Alex Piekarski claimed the league’s Coach of the Year award. The Lady Bisons graduated Emma Roberts, the 2021 GAC Offensive Player of the Year. She scored 17 goals, including three game winners.

East Central took sixth followed by East Central. Tiger midfielder Tanja Baubock scored a team-leading five goals and earned First-Team All-GAC honors for the second-straight season. Defender Cambori Watson also made the First-Team. The Crimson Storm feature a new head coach in Josh Smith.

The regular season opens on Thursday, August 25 with four schools - Oklahoma Baptist, Ouachita, Southern Nazarene and SWOSU taking the pitch. East Central, Harding and Northwestern Oklahoma State debut on the following day. The GAC Championships feature the top four teams head to the venue of the top seed for semifinals on Thursday, November 3 and the final set for Saturday, November 5.


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