AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Columbus State University women's soccer team will not be the preseason favorites in the Peach Belt Conference for the first time since 2006 as the Armstrong Atlantic State University Pirates have been voted the team to beat in the conference by the league's head coaches. CSU fell two points shy of AASU as the Lady Cougars were projected to finished second in 2011.
Armstrong Atlantic garnered five first and second place votes respectively for a total of 95 points while the Lady Cougars earned four first place, five second place and one third place nominations to get their 93 points. North Georgia (78 points), UNC Pembroke (76 points) and Lander (56 points) rounded out the top-five.
The Lady Cougars enter the 2011 season ranked 16th in the Preseason NSCAA Poll being as they were one of only two PBC schools to be ranked in the poll.
CSU returns only four starters from last year's team that went 19-2-1, was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season. Columbus State won their sixth straight Peach Belt Conference regular season championship and won the PBC Tournament for the fourth time in five years.
Helping soften the blow of last year's senior laden team departures will be the return of All-American Stephanie Lowery, the Lady Cougars leading scorer a year ago. Also returning to the pitch will be All-Southeast Region honorees Willi Babillis and Kansas Bayly along with two-year starter Catherine Lovin.
Columbus State opens the season on Friday, September 2 when it takes on Southern Indiana for the first time in school history in the Pioneer Invitational hosted by Tusculum College. The home opener for the Lady Cougars is a week later on Friday, September 9 when it hosts Barry at the Walden Soccer Complex.