WINTER PARK, Fla. – After finishing the 2012 season tied for fifth, the Barry Buccaneers start the 2013 season as the number seven pick in the Sunshine State Conference preseason women’s soccer poll.
The Bucs will have a new look this season as long-time assistant coach Denise Brolly takes over for Fred Jungemann who left to take over the men’s program at Humboldt State.
The strength of the team looks to be on defense as Becca Rogers, who played every minute in goal, and three of four starters return. Additionally, four other players who logged starts on the season also come back in 2013.
Offensively, Sara Karna and Lauren Manna, who each tied for the team lead with four goals along with Lavinia Nkomo, who shared the lead in assists with Karna (four assists), lead a group that tallied at least one goal in every regular season game.
The Bucs narrowly missed out on the SSC Tournament last year, losing a tiebreaker to Eckerd and Lynn for the last tournament berth, but advanced over the Tritons and the Knights to the NCAA Tournament for the 19th time in program history.
The 2012 SSC Tournament champion Tampa Spartans narrowly received the nod as the favorite to win the 2013 SSC women’s soccer title. The Spartans received 61 points and five of the nine first-place votes, while Rollins earned 60 points and collected the remaining four first-place votes to sit in the second position in a preseason poll conducted among the conference head women’s soccer coaches.
The Tars, who were the 2012 preseason favorite, captured the 2012 regular-season championship before falling to Tampa in the SSC title match in penalty kicks, 4-2. The two teams met again in the South Region semifinal where Tampa advanced with a 1-0 victory.
Florida Southern received 47 points to be placed third, where they finished the 2012 season. Nova Southeastern (38 points), Florida Tech (31 points) and Lynn (27 points) rounded out the top-six. The top six teams advance to the conference tournament at the end of the season.
Concluding the poll were Eckerd (25 points) and Saint Leo (9 points), respectively.
Tampa, who finished 2012 in the South Regional Championship match, returns 10 of 11 starters, including 16 letter winners. The Spartans return SSC Women’s Soccer Player of the Year, Lauren Moore, and SSC Freshman of the Year, Cici Gonzalez. The two All-Americans finished last season as the top two leading scorers in conference play.
Rollins returns nine starters and 14 letter winners, including SSC Offensive Player of the Year and All-American Brenna McKee.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) released its preseason poll on Aug. 13 with Tampa ranked No. 8 and Rollins at No. 15.
2013 Sunshine State Conference Preseason Women’s Soccer Poll
Rank – Team, Points (1st-place votes)
1 – Tampa, 61 (5)
2 – Rollins, 60 (4)
3 – Florida Southern, 47
4 – Nova Southeastern, 38
5 – Florida Tech, 31
6 – Lynn, 27
7 – Barry, 26
8 – Eckerd, 25
9 – Saint Leo, 9