LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland was picked fourth in the TranSouth Conference Women’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll released this week by the conference office, just behind Union University. Seven-time defending regular season and tournament champion Martin Methodist was a unanimous choice to win an eighth straight league title.
Second-year Cumberland head coach Gavin McKinney guided his club to nine victories in 2010, the most for the Bulldogs since 2005, and CU returns seven starters this season, including All-TranSouth performers Helena Dimantas Farias, Morgan Shaffer and Michelle Ward.
TSAC Freshman of the Year Reneé LaRose will miss the 2011 campaign after tearing her ACL during the summer, a very important defensive cog for the Bulldogs last season. Ward, a sophomore, and senior Siobhan Morales along with junior Simone Quinn, who spent the final month of 2010 as an emergency keeper, should man the backline along with freshman Mackenzie Keele.
Dimantas Farias, a senior, junior Shaffer and sophomore Rhianne Parsons formed perhaps the conference’s most prolific scoring trio last season, combining for 31 goals and 21 assists. Dimantas Farias led the league in points (39) and assists (13), netting 13 goals and scoring in 15 of the club’s 17 matches. Shaffer and Parsons both recorded nine goals with Parsons adding six assists for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore Candice Ray started all 17 matches in the midfield for CU last year and should again man the middle along with several newcomers, including freshmen Kaitlin Phillips and Stephanie Twardowski. Freshman Shauna Gilpin should see action up front as well.
Three freshmen will battle for time in the net – Lindsay Kitson, Elizabeth Surdam and Taylor Knight.
Cumberland opens the season August 26-27 at the Bulldog Classic in Barbourville, Ky., facing host Union College and Barton College.
2011 TranSouth Conference Women’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Points (First-place votes)