HIGH POINT, N.C. – After earning a regular season championship last season, the High Point University women’s soccer team has been picked to finish second in the Big South in a preseason poll of the league’s coaches. Additionally, redshirt senior goalkeeper Alex Hank was named the league’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
HPU is coming off a 13-6-2 campaign, including a 7-1-1 mark in conference play that led to the program’s first regular season title since 2012, and third overall, under head coach Marty Beall. The Panthers have played in the Big South championship game in two of the last three seasons.
“Our preseason ranking in the conference shows the respect that our players have earned from the coaches in our league,” Beall said. “Now it’s up to us to put in the work and become the best team we can become.”
Hank, a two-time Big South All-Conference performer, returns in net after earning second team honors a year ago. She was tabbed as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year following the 2015 season.
“Alex has been one of the top goalkeepers in the Big South for the past few years,” Beall said. “This recognition from the coaches in our conference is very deserving and we are all very happy for her.”
The Panthers bring back 24 letterwinners from a year ago, including 15 seniors that make up nearly half of the 32-member roster. In addition to Hank, 2016 first team All-Conference selections Becca Rolfe and Paige Lloyd return along with 2016 All-Freshman recipients Allie Reagan, Alex Denny, and Kyle Levesque.
Big South Preseason Poll Breakdown
Defending tournament champion Liberty (98 points) was selected as the preseason favorite, garnering eight of the 10 first place votes. The Panthers (92) earned the other two first place votes. Campbell (68), Radford (64), Longwood (62), and Gardner-Webb (56) were selected third through sixth, respectively, in a rather clustered middle of the pack.
The coaches tabbed UNC Asheville (44) seventh, followed by Charleston Southern (31), Winthrop (24), and Presbyterian College (11) to round out the poll.
BIG SOUTH PRESEASON POLL
RANK TEAM POINTS (1st) 1. Liberty 98 (8) 2. High Point 92 (2) 3. Campbell 68 4. Radford 64 5. Longwood 62 6. Gardner-Webb 56 7. UNC Asheville 44 8. Charleston Southern 31 9. Winthrop 24 10. Presbyterian College 11
BIG SOUTH PRESEASON ATTACKING PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jennifer Knoebel, Liberty
BIG SOUTH PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Alex Hank, High Point
The Panthers open their exhibition season on Aug. 8 at N.C. State. The season opener is Aug. 18 at Appalachian State with the homer opener scheduled for Aug. 25 against Ohio at 7 p.m.