WILMINGTON – Coming off a school record 15 wins and trip to the NCAA Tournament, the UNCW women’s soccer team received votes last week in the National Soccer Coaches Association Division I Preseason Poll.
The Seahawks, who played to a 0-0 draw against High Point in their lone exhibition match prior to the start of the fall season, return 16 letter winners from one year ago, while 11 freshmen join the squad.
UNCW boasted a 15-7-1 record last year and earned a 2-0 result in the opening round of the NCAA bracket against South Carolina. The Seahawks earned two votes in the initial rankings and joined Hofstra as the only Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) teams to receive recognition.
“It is great to see UNCW recognized among some of the nation’s top programs to begin the season,” Coach Paul Cairney, reigning CAA Coach of the Year, said. “We had a lot of success last year, which helped us to get this ranking. Our players have worked hard over the summer, but will have to continue to put forth that effort in order for us to stay in the national rankings.”
Among conference opponents, William & Mary was selected as the CAA preseason favorites, while James Madison senior forward Ashley Herndon was chosen as the 2016 CAA Preseason Player of the Year in a vote of the league’s 10 head coaches. UNCW was picked to finish fifth in league play.
The CAA is coming off one of the best seasons in conference history as a league-record four teams – Hofstra, JMU, UNCW and W&M – earned berths in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship.
After tallying 50 total goals last season, the Seahawks’ early question mark moving into the regular season slate will be scoring. Half of the goals scored from 2015 came from a pair of recent graduates; senior midfielder Kennedy Ulrich returns as UNCW’s leader on offense after tallying four goals with three assists last season.
Meanwhile, senior goalkeeper Carolyn Huddy, who boasted a school-record 10 shutouts en route to Third-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association notice, also comes back to anchor the UNCW defensive unit.
One of the seven first-year players this year is Wilmington native and Laney High School alum Baley Edwards. The Mideastern Conference Player of the Year earned a preseason start against High Point and recorded two shots in her freshman debut.
UNCW begins their 2016 schedule with a pair of road games against Georgia Southern (8/19) and South Carolina State (8/21) before welcoming Navy to the UNCW Soccer Stadium on Friday, August 26.
Coach Paul Cairney spoke about the Seahawks' first practice of the season and his expectations for the opening… https://t.co/9mQRpf2bUI
— UNCW Women's Soccer (@UNCWSoccer) August 4, 2016