Lady Scots set to defend conference title

The Maryville College women’s soccer team started their 2014 season projected to finish 2nd in the USA South conference preseason polls.

The Lady Scots opened their season on Friday, Aug. 29, at home in the MC Invitational. The Scots won 4-0 in their first game against Emory and Henry, with scores by freshman Caitlin Kennedy and sophomores Gabby Billstrom, Casey Gentile and Grace Puryear. They lost 1-0 in a close game to Hanover College the following day. Maryville traveled to Birmingham, AL the following weekend where they lost to Sewanee 3-1 and Birmingham Southern 2-1. The team played Oglethorpe at home September with a 4-1 victory. The Scots fell to Rhodes 2-1 on September 13th.
Head coach Pepe Fernandez enters his 24th season with the Lady Scots, with an all-time record of 285-117-31. Last year, Fernandez took home the 2013 USA South Coach of the Year title after going 13-2-3.

The conference tournament this year will take place in Martinsville, Virginia the weekend of November 7th. The team is hopeful that they will be able to prove the preseason projections wrong and defend their title as the USA South regular season champions. Last year Maryville reached the semi-finals and were eliminated with a 4-2 loss against Meredith College after the match went into a penalty kick shootout. “Even though Piedmont was picked to win the conference tournament, we’re really sure we’re going to be able to win that game” said junior midfielder Erin Persinger.

Several key players were lost from last season, including Alexis Franco at midfield, Lauren Ward at defender and Ashley Howarth at forward. Erin Persinger explained how the team is dealing with these changes: “We lost a lot of people in the center. We had to rebuild. Our midfield is completely different and new, and our whole team is super young this year. A lot of the new freshman have been able to step up and get some starts in games.”

As the sole senior, goalkeeper Megan Nugent is a key leader on and off the field. Junior Sierra Siegel, who achieved USA South All-Conference 2nd-team last season, is a returner and leader at forward. Lizzy Simmons received all-conference 1st-team honors and is a key leader among the defenders. Sophomore Rachel Leal and junior Allyson Hale were also recognized with 2nd and 3rd-team achievements, respectively.

New players to look out for include freshman forward Kirstin Alcorn (Cookeville, TN), freshman midfielder Kara Tubb (Fayetteville, AR), and freshman goalkeeper Rachel Taylor (Palm Harbor, FL).

Come support your MC women’s soccer team this Friday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. as the Scots host William Peace.

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