ROCK HILL, S.C. - After a strong performance in the 2018 season coupled with a trip to the NCAA Southeast Regionals, Carson-Newman has been ranked second in the preseason polls along with four Eagles named to preseason All-Conference teams.
Despite earning the regular-season championship for the fourth straight season, SAC tournament champion Lincoln Memorial's 106 points in the poll edged out C-N's 100 points to have the Railsplitters at the point. LMU received seven first place votes to C-N's three. Lenoir-Rhyne finished third in the preseason poll with 93 points, with Catawba (82 points) and Tusculum (66 points) rounding out the top-5, respectively.
It is the first time since the 2015 preseason that C-N has not been ranked first in the preseason poll, a fact that isn't going to get in the way of getting business done in preparation for the season-opener against Bellarmine on Sept. 5.
"The preseason rankings are what they are," Eagles coach Simon Duffy said. "It's at the end of the season where we are (that is important). I'm hoping that we can take home that fifth conference championship this year. The other conference teams don't think we can do that and that's just fine. We had a lot of seniors graduate and LMU probably deserved to be in that number spot, they went further than we did last year.
"We'll just keep our head down and keep plugging away."
A trio of Eagles earned preseason first-team recognition, with a fourth and final Eagle earning second-team honors.
Emilee Futrell is the Eagles' leading returning scorer, coming off of a nine goal, 24 point season where she played 1105 minutes across 19 games. She scored the sixth most points out of all players in the SAC last season. Futrell upgrades her preseason accolades from last year where she earned second-team honors.
Heading into this season, Futrell expects that incoming transfers and freshman will help bolster the offensive attack.
"Most of the newcomers are already up to speed," Futrell said. "It's just really exciting to see that they're going to come up and could pass me as top goal scorer because they're that good. It's going to be good to have multiple high goal scorers on the team."
Jente Kuper is coming off of a stellar freshman campaign, where she logged a team-leading 1655 minutes across 19 contests on the season. Her defensive abilities earned her second-team All-SAC at the conclusion of the season.
"Coming here as a freshman last year and playing a lot of minutes shows how much he (Duffy) believes in me. I can't wait for next season and I hope it goes well for me."
Lara Hallgrimsdottir picks up a nod to the conference second-team, her first preseason nomination as an Eagle. The midfielder played in 18 games in her junior campaign, logging 1126 minutes. Her abilities as a corner specialist will be used heavily throughout the season, last year her 36 corners taken ranked second on the team.
"Lara seems to be a player I can rely on," Duffy said. "Is always going to be in the middle of the park putting in an effort."
Goalie Jackie Burns is coming off of another solid season, where she went 11-1 with only 11 goals conceded against 30 saves and 92 shots faced in her junior campaign.
The Eagles have two preseason matches scheduled over the next two weeks, including an away trip to Trevecca Nazerene on Aug. 31.