WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Midwestern State was tabbed third in the Lone Star Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll while senior forward Destinee Williamson collected individual honors by being named the LSC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, the league office announced Wednesday afternoon.
Texas A&M-Commerce, the defending LSC co-champions, received 127 points and nine of 21 first-place votes to take first in the preseason poll. Last season's co-champion West Texas A&M followed after garnering six first-place votes and 119 points to slip ahead of Midwestern State after the Mustangs totaled 114 points and four first-place nods.
Angelo State was tabbed fourth with 87 points and one first-place vote while Texas Woman's (72), Eastern New Mexico (38) and UT Permian Basin (31) rounded out the poll. UTPB received the remaining first-place vote.
Joining Williamson in receiving individual honors was West Texas A&M's Khadisha Debesette, who was named LSC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and Texas A&M-Commerce's Caitlin Duty, the league's preseason goalkeeper of the year.
Head coach Damian Clarke enters his fourth season at the helm of the MSU program, coming off a trip to the NCAA II South Central Regional Semifinals after capturing the fifth LSC Tournament title in school history and moving past No. 10 St. Edward's (Texas) in a shootout in the NCAA opener. MSU's advancement into the second round of the NCAA Tournament matched its best postseason finish in program history with a 13-6-4 overall record.
Seniors Courtney Burnette and Destinee Williamson lead a youthful squad into the 2017 campaign as the Mustangs field just four upperclassmen along with 11 true freshmen on the 30-player roster.
A three-time all-LSC selection, Burnette earned first team accolades from the league in 2016 after setting a new single-season program record of 10 shutouts en route to an MSU career record of 23 clean sheets. The Irving native led NCAA Division II with 2154:53 minutes played while coming in 33rd nationally with a 0.71 goals against average and 32nd behind a .848 save percentage.
Williamson came on strong for the Mustangs down the stretch last season with six goals and two assists in the final nine games, playing a vital role in leading the Maroon and Gold to the regional semifinals. The striker from Bedford was a two-time all-region selection and an All-LSC First Team performer after totaling 23 points with 10 goals and three assists.
Burnette and Williamson are joined by a pair of returning starters in sophomores Sarah Stewart and Adrianna Smith, who spearheaded a defensive unit that ranked 32nd nationally with a 0.71 goals against average and recorded 10 shutouts.
Reigning Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Year Hanna Mattinson also returns for MSU after netting 14 points with five goals and a team-high four assists, while fellow sophomore striker Avery Lewis looks to build off a freshman season that included three goals and three assists.
Rounding out the MSU returners for the 2017 season are junior midfielder Taylor Robinson, sophomore midfielder Jaden Green, sophomore midfielder Madison Davis, sophomore midfielder Raven Powell, junior midfielder Brandy Villasana and sophomore midfielder Michaelann Greenfield.
The Mustangs open up the 2017 campaign with a seven-game homestand at Stang Park beginning Friday, Sept. 1 with a 5 p.m. kickoff against Regis (Colo.).
2017 Lone Star Conference Preseason Women's Soccer Poll
1. Texas A&M-Commerce - 127 pts (9 1st-place)
2. West Texas A&M - 119 (6)
3. MSU MUSTANGS - 114 (4)
4. Angelo State - 87 (1)
5. Texas Woman's - 72
6. Eastern New Mexico - 38
7. UT-Permian Basin - 31 (1)