Midwestern State topped the 2014 Lone Star Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll as the popular pick amongst the league's coaches, sports information directors and selected media to win its second consecutive and fifth overall conference championship, as released Tuesday afternoon.
The Mustangs rolled to a 13-5-3 mark last season, claiming the LSC title with a 7-2-1 record in league play. MSU claimed the conference postseason tournament title, taking two matches in penalty kicks over Texas A&M-Commerce and West Texas A&M, advancing to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.
Midwestern returns six starters and 21 letter winners, including Daktronics and NSCAA All-Region performers Ashley Cottrell and Morgan Hannon.
Cottrell, a junior from Arlington, earned Offensive Player of the Year honors after scoring 11 goals and dishing out two assists.
Hannon, junior from Midland, notched three goals and two assists as a mainstay in the midfield.
Senior midfielder Katy Catney (3 goals, 3 assists) and junior defender Alexandria Edwards join sophomore defenders Haley Britton and Katie Huff as returning starters.
The Mustangs received just six of the 13 first-place votes, but amassed 80 total points to edge out Angelo State at the top of the poll. The Rambelles secured seven first-place votes for 72 points.
West Texas A&M (61 points) is ticketed to finish third followed by Texas A&M-Commerce (51 points, 2 first-place votes), Texas Woman's (27 points) and Eastern New Mexico (24 points).
The Mustangs open the season with a pair of matches at Dirks Field in Durango, Colo. as MSU takes on Colorado Mesa on Thursday, Sept. 4 before battling home standing Fort Lewis on Saturday, Sept. 6. Both games kick off at 1:30 p.m.
2014 Lone Star Conference Preseason Poll
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Ashley Cottrell, Midwestern State
Preseason Defensive Players of the Year
Rhea Belgrave, West Texas A&M
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year
Alyxandra Ortiz, Eastern New Mexico
Midwestern State's Ashley Cottrell heads into her second consecutive season as the Lone Star Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year as released by league officials Tuesday afternoon.
The junior from Arlington earned first-team All-South Central Region first-team honors from the National Soccer Coaches' Association of America and Daktronics after leading the LSC in points (24), goals (11), goals per game (.524) and game winning goals (5) while helping the Mustangs to a league championship in 2013.
Cottrell also shined in the postseason, scoring two goals in the LSC Postseason final against West Texas A&M before successfully converting her attempt in penalty kicks to clinch the title. The performance landed her a spot on the all-tournament team, and also MVP honors.
She added her 11th goal of the season in a 2-1 overtime loss to Metropolitan State (Colo.) in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional.
Cottrell is a two-time All-LSC first-team performer, gaining LSC Offensive Player of the Year accolades last season after she was named LSC Freshman of the Year in 2012.
She was also tabbed preseason offensive player of the year heading into last season.