After recording an impressive 25-0-5 overall record in league play dating back to 2015, the Murray State Racers are pegged favorites in the 2018 Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll released by the league offices in Brentwood, Tn. Tuesday.
The Racers have won three straight OVC regular-season titles as they were crowned OVC regular season champions in 2015, shared the title in 2016 with Eastern Kentucky, and secured their most recent hardware in 2017.
Voting for the OVC poll came from the head coaches and sports information contacts. Voters were not allowed to select their own team in the voting process.
Murray State is the top team in the predictions, as they received 15 first place votes and 194 total vote points. Eastern Kentucky locked the second-place spot with four first-place votes and 166 total points, while Tennessee Tech followed close behind in third place with three first-place votes. Belmont and Southeast Missouri shared fourth place. Meanwhile, SIUE took sixth place as UT Martin, Austin Peay, Jacksonville State, Morehead State and Eastern Illinois rounded out the poll.
The Racers will follow the leadership of newly promoted head coach Matt Lodge, who previously served as an assistant for Murray State under former head coach Jeremy Groves over the past four seasons.
Coming off a breakthrough season is All-OVC Newcomer and OVC Freshman of the Year Rebecca Kubin, who made a dominant entrance into the OVC as she finished fifth in the conference with seven goals last season. Fellow OVC All-Newcomer Team member Miyah Watford is also looking to provide MSU with an offensive spark this season. Defensively, the Racers return senior goalkeeper Alex Steigerwald, who boasted an OVC best ten shutouts in 2017. Also back for the navy-and-gold defense is All-OVC First Team honoree Karsyn Hasch.
The Racers are slated to play their first four matches in Murray at Cutchin Field beginning with an exhibition contest Friday (Aug. 10) against Samford. MSU then hosts Western Kentucky (Aug. 17) for their regular season opener followed by games against Northern Kentucky (Aug. 19) and IUPUI (Aug. 24). Murray State opens conference play on the road against Southeast Missouri (Sept. 13).
The OVC Soccer Championship features eight teams this season. The first rounds and quarterfinals will take place Oct. 26 and 28 at the campus of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. The semifinals and championship will be on the campus of the No. 1 seed on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5.
2018 OVC Soccer Predicted Order of Finish
(voted on by the league head coaches and sports information directors)
1. Murray State (15) – 194
2. Eastern Kentucky (4) – 166
3. Tennessee Tech (3) – 151
t4. Belmont – 138
t4. Southeast Missouri – 138
6. SIUE – 125
7. UT Martin – 98
8. Austin Peay – 66
9. Jacksonville State – 64
10. Morehead State – 50
11. Eastern Illinois – 20