KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The United Soccer Coaches have released the association's national preseason rankings for division 2 women's soccer for the upcoming fall season.
Just as they finished the 2017 campaign with the highest national ranking ever in program history, Simon Duffy's group holds the same spot at No. 2, runner-up to D2 champion Central Missouri who defeated the Eagles on penalty kicks in the NCAA National Championship game last December.
The University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, who the Eagles defeated 2-1 in the National Semifinal, checked in at No. 3 on the rankings, with Mercy College and the University of California-San Diego rounding out the top five.
Carson-Newman held the No. 2 position in the rankings since the end of October, a leap they made all the way from No. 25 to begin the 2017 season.
"It's an amazing feeling especially how we open up the season with some games against other top-25 teams," Duffy stated. "I'm hoping we can hold that spot everybody will be well aware of where we are at as a program so as we've talked about before as a team, we understand there will be a target on our back with the recent success."
The Eagles open the year with matchups against West Florida (#10) and Columbus State (#12).
C-N came off arguably the most historic season to date in its road to the National Championship match collecting a program-high 21 wins without a blemish on their record excluding penalty kicks. In Duffy's first season, his team notched their third-straight conference regular season and championship titles, finishing the regular season at 17-0-1 which had never been done in the South Atlantic Conference prior. His squad will look to become the first team to win four-straight conference titles heading into 2018.
The team enters the year with a record of 51-5-2 over the past three seasons excluding tournament play and will have an opportunity to make another run at a National Title losing just two seniors in Helen Seed and Lauren Wade.
"We probably have one of the strongest non-conference schedules in the country. I want this team to be tested," Duffy mentioned. "Hopefully, if we can go further on in the season, what we see will not be uncommon or will take us by surprise. We also have such a great conference, and those games are going to be so tough in its own."
A full list of the teams' accomplishments in 2017 proves that the first national ranking has been well earned.
- 21 wins is the most in program history beating the previous record of 20 in 2009.
- National ranking of No. 2 is the highest the program has ever been since 2004 when they were No. 3
- 31 awards since the end of the regular season is the most in program history. 19 was the previous high.
- 22-consecutive games unbeaten tops a previous program record that sat at 12-games from the 2009 and 2015 seasons.
- First team in women's athletics at C-N to make it to the National Final.
- First team in South Atlantic Conference women's athletics to make it to the National Final.
- Only team in SAC history to win three consecutive regular season and tournament titles in the same span.
- C-N was the only team in South Atlantic Conference history to finish regular season and conference tournament unbeaten.
- The only team in program history to finish regular season and conference tournament unbeaten.
- 2017 is the only year two Eagles were named All-Americans in the same year (Seed, Wade).
- Six clean sheets in a row in 2017 from Oct. 7 to Oct. 31 is a new school record.
- Most wins under a first-year head coach in program history
- The team only trailed for a total of 42:44 out of a possible 2112 minutes.
- Remained unbeaten at McCown Field for the second-consecutive season. Have not lost at home since Sept. 11, 2015 against Ohio Dominican.