Fresh off conference title, women's soccer selected to win again

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- For the second time in four years, the John Brown University women's soccer team has been selected to win the Sooner Athletic regular season title, according to the 2017 Coaches' Preseason Poll, the conference offices announced Thursday (Aug. 10) afternoon.

The poll was selected by the league's head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own team. The Golden Eagles, which won both the regular season and tournament championships last season, swept the board and took all 10 possible first-place votes and earned a perfect 110 points.

The regular season title was the third in program history for John Brown, as the 2016 squad joined the 2007 and 2009 teams as the only teams to accomplish the feat for a program that was established in 2002.

JBU despite sweeping last season's conference slate (9-0-0) and running through the SAC tournament, out-scoring its opponents 11-0, was not picked to win the conference in 2016. In fact, despite appearing in all four tournament championship matches since 2013, the Golden Eagles have only been selected at the top of the preseason poll just once, in 2014.

"We are honored by this selection and, while we are thankful for the recognition, we collectively realize that it is just a number," admitted head coach Kathleen Paulsen. "There are other great teams in our conference. Beginnings are exciting, but ultimately, excellence in the day in, day out will be what comes to define this coming season.

"We are committed to that process and look forward to living that out daily."

No Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total
1 John Brown 10                   110
2 Science & Arts 1 4 5               96
3 Texas Wesleyan   5 4   1           93
4 Oklahoma City   2 2 5 1           85
5 Mid-America Christian       3 4 2   1     67
6 Wayland Baptist       1 3 2 2 1   1 57
7 Southwestern A.G.         1 3 3 2 1   51
8 Southwestern Christian       1   2 1 4 2   47
9 St. Gregory's       1     4 2 3   45
10 Central Christian         1 2 1 2 3 1 43
11 Bacone                 1 9 21

Science & Arts was chosen for second place with 96 points and one first-place vote. The Drovers were followed by Texas Wesleyan in third (93), Oklahoma City in fourth (85) and Mid-America Christian in fifth (67).

The remainder of the poll includes Wayland Baptist (Texas) in sixth (57), Southwestern A.G. (Texas) in seventh (51), Southwestern Christian (Okla.) in eighth (47) and St. Gregory's (Okla.) in ninth (45). Conference newcomer Central Christian (Kan.) finished in tenth (43) and Bacone (Okla.) in 11th (21).

The final regular season standings will determine the seeds for the SAC postseason tournament, scheduled to begin with quarterfinals at campus sites on Nov. 3, with the winners moving on the semifinal round on Nov. 6. The championship game will be held at the highest remaining seed on Nov. 9, with the winner receiving an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championships.

JBU returns 13 letterwinners from 2016, including the services of redshirt senior Hannah Poor, who was sidelined last season. The Golden Eagles return over 86 percent of its offensive output from last season. With the entire back line returning, and the addition of 10 talented freshmen, the only position that will not see a similar face is in goal, where four-time SAC Goalkeeper of the Year Kristen Morency finished her career last season.

John Brown opens its 2017 home slate on Aug. 25, welcoming MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) to Alumni Field for a 5:30 p.m. start time. The Pioneers finished the 2016 season with an appearance in both the Heart of America tournament championship match and the NAIA National Championships Opening Round.

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