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Aug. 19, 2011
The Atlantic Coast Conference kicks off the 2011 Women's Soccer Season on Friday night with five teams ranked among the Top 10 of the NSCAA preseason poll - North Carolina at No. 3, Boston College at No. 4, Florida State at No. 5, Maryland at No. 6 and Virginia at No. 10. Defending ACC champion Wake Forest received a No. 18 preseason ranking.
The Soccer America preseason poll lists seven ACC teams among its Top 25. North Carolina (No. 3), Florida State (No. 4), Maryland (No. 5) and Boston College (No. 6) are ranked among the Top 10. Duke received a No. 12 preseason ranking, while Virginia checked in at No. 16 and Wake Forest at No. 23.
All 11 ACC teams open their seasons on Friday. Two of Friday night's openers feature matchups of ranked teams. No. 10 Virginia plays host to No. 13 West Virginia (NSCAA rankings), while No. 4 Florida State travels to No. 13 Oregon State (Soccer America poll). Meanwhile, unranked Miami takes aim at a top-10 in-state opponent when it plays host to No. 8 Florida.
2010 Women's College Cup semifinalist Boston College led all schools with three student-athletes named to the 2011 Soccer America Preseason All-America Team - goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni, forward Vicki DiMartino and midfielder Kristie Mewis. Seven ACC players were named to the team in all, including 2010 ACC Defensive Player of the Year Crystal Dunn of North Carolina and reigning ACC Freshman of the Year Katie Stengel of Wake Forest. Dunn and Stengel were the only two sophomores named to the Soccer America Preseason All-America team.
The ACC led all conferences with nine players named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Preseason Watch List. In addition to BC's Vicki Martino and Kristie Mewis, North Carolina's Crystal Dunn and Wake Forest's Katie Stengel, the list includes Florida State's Tiffany McCarty and Toni Pressley, Maryland's Jasmyne Spencer, North Carolina's Kealia Ohai and Virginia goalkeeper Chantel Jones.
Virginia's Chantel Jones and BC's Jillian Mastroianni both enter their senior seasons with 33 career shutouts, just two behind the ACC record of 35 held by UNC's Aly Winget (2002-05). Jones and Mastroianni are 11 shutouts behind the NCAA record of 44 held by Erin Guthrie of Rutgers (2006-09).
North Carolina was again voted the conference preseason favorite in a vote of the ACC's 11 head coaches. The Tar Heels have topped the preseason poll every year since it began in 1992.
In addition to returning 18 student-athletes who earned first- or second-team honors in 2010, the ACC returns its top two scorers from each of the last two seasons. Wake Forest's Katie Stengel led the conference in scoring last season with 37 points and was the highest-scoring freshman in all of Division I. Florida State's Jessica Price led the ACC in scoring with 42 points in 2009 before missing all of last season with an injury (along with teammate and 2009 ACC Offensive Player of the Year Tiffany McCarty, who ranked second among ACC scorers two season ago with 41 points).
Maryland's Brian Pensky became the sixth ACC coach to be named National Coach of the Year when he was honored by Soccer America last December. Pensky joined current UNC coach Anson Dorrance (1997, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006), current FSU coach Mark Krikorian (2005), former Duke coach Bill Hempen (1992), former NC State coach Larry Gross (1997) and former Florida State coach Patrick Baker (2003).
NC State's Dail Soccer Field underwent a number of upgrades during the offseason. In addition to seat-back chairs and bleachers, the stadium sports a new brick look. The stadium also has a new press box, new fan entrance and a new stand alone building in the southeast corner that provides both the Wolfpack and its competitors meeting and locker room space and showers.
The ACC's 11 teams return a combined 89 starters from the 2010 season. Duke leads the way with all 11 starters returning.
Three new head coaches will be on the sidelines for ACC teams this season, with Eddie Radwanski stepping in at Clemson, Tom Anagnost taking over at Miami and Charles "Chugger" Adair moving up at Virginia Tech. With a .671 winning percentage (139-65-13) in 10 years at UNC Greensboro, Radwanski ranks 28th all-time among coaches with a decade or more experience at the Division I level. Anagnost posted an impressive 40-12-7 record in three seasons at Central Michigan. Adair becomes head coach of the Hokies coach after more than a decade's experience as a college assistant coach, including the last five as associate head coach at Virginia Tech.
Interestingly, ACC women's soccer teams now have two University of San Diego alumni as head coaches in Virginia Tech's Adair and Wake Forest's Tony da Luz. Both were standout men's players for the Toreros. Da Luz coached the school's first women's teams from 1992 through 1996 before coming to Wake Forest.
Four ACC student athletes were among the 10 named by Soccer America as potential "freshmen of influence" for the 2011 season, Virginia's Morgan Brian, Florida State midfielder Dagny Brynjardottir, Duke forward Kelly Cobb and North Carolina defender Taylor Ramirez were listed as "among the first-year players who could have a big influence on the 2011 campaign."
Soccer America's "transfers of influence include Maryland sophomore Hayley Brock (six goals and three assists as a freshman at Penn State) and Florida State junior Taylor Vancil (former United States team U-17 and U-20 goalkeeper and a two-year starter at Louisville).