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Women's Soccer Looks for Return Trip to NCAA Tournament; Picked to Finish Second in Preseason Poll

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The Pfeiffer women’s soccer team has been voted to finish second in the 2014 Conference Carolinas preseason coaches’ poll. Belmont Abbey is picked to finish first in the upcoming season.

Pfeiffer University, the reigning Conference Carolinas Tournament Champion, was picked to finish fourth a season ago. Head Coach Elijah Denton has guided Pfeiffer to the NCAA Tournament twice and posted double-digit win totals in four of his first five years at the helm.

"We are excited and honored to receive second place consideration in the preseason poll because there are so many talented teams in our conference that are just as deserving,” said Denton.  “With most of our players returning from last year's tournament championship run, and the addition of several quality players, we have high expectations for this year's team. It won't be easy, but the players have responded well through preseason and seem very hungry and eager to repeat, if not surpass, last year's achievements."

Highlighting the returners is Conference Carolinas Tournament MVP and first- team All-Conference performer, Kayla Rodriguez. First-team All-Conference defender Kaitlin Sampson returns, as well as the previous two Conference Carolinas Freshmen of the Year recipients in Brae Buster (2013) and Aaliyah Jackson (2012).

Led by 10 scoring strikes from Buster, Pfeiffer paced the conference with 51 goals scored in 2013. Buster also led the Falcons in points, shots and shots on goal in her rookie season and her goal in penalty kicks of the championship game against Belmont Abbey clinched a Conference Tournament title and sent the Falcons to the NCAA Tournament.

The Falcons return 13 of their 14 goal scorers from a season ago and should be just as potent on the offensive end. Pfeiffer also returns the majority of its defensive core, led by Sampson. 

In goal, Kate Halligan started 13 games as a freshman and posted a 1.41 goals against average and a .780 save percentage.

A talented group of newcomers are led by Gretchen Dettlinger and Kat Kelley. Dettlinger was an All-Conference performer in high school and Kelly is a Division I transfer from Stetson.

The Falcons defense of the Conference Tournament crown begins on Sept. 5 when they travel to Carrollton, GA to take on West Alabama. Pfeiffer will battle regional power Armstrong St. at home on Sept. 14 and kick off conference play with a home contest against Limestone on Sept. 17. The regular season will wrap up with a Halloween battle at Belmont Abbey as Pfeiffer’s final three games will all be on the road.

Conference Carolinas Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll
(Number of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)

Belmont Abbey88 (7)
Pfeiffer76 (1)
Lees-McRae75 (1)
Barton68 (1)
Mount Olive37
North Greenville31

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