After finishing third in the Great American Conference standings in 2012, the East Central University women's soccer team has been picked to finish fourth in the 2013 GAC Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
The Lady Tigers earned 13 points, with 2012 champion Southwestern earning first (25 points/five first-place votes), Southern Nazarene second (19 points), Ouachita Baptist third (17 points/one first-place vote), Harding fifth (11 points) and Northwestern sixth (five points).
In 2012 ECU struggled with key injuries, especially after losing both goalies for a large portion of the season. However, the Lady Tigers will return six of 11 starters, including three All-GAC picks from a year ago.
Ashley Bradford will return for her senior season after earning All-GAC First-Team and NSCAA All-Region Third-Team honors as a junior. Juniors Margaret Glutz and Katie Glutz are also all-conference selections from 2012, with Margaret earning first-team honors and Katie claiming second-team accolades.
Also returning from the starting line-up are senior Stephanie Flores and junior Jessica Stibbens. Other key returners include Susana Galvez, Taylor Graves, Katelyn Harper, Kourtney Holleman, Krista Kahl, Taylor Kennedy, Laiken Knight and Hunter Malcom.
Head coach Riley Bailey has also bolstered the line-up with nine new additions for the 2013 season. The group is comprised of six freshmen and two juniors; three forwards, three defenders and two goaltenders.
This season, those wishing to see the Lady Tigers in action at home will have to come to Tiger Field early, as the season is lopsided on home and away matches. ECU will play all of its eight home matches by Oct. 13, with the first home contest scheduled for Sept. 10 against Northeastern State at 4 p.m. The Lady Tigers will play their final home matches Oct. 11 (Harding) and Oct. 13 (Ouachita Baptist) before finishing the season with six straight road matches.