Murray State Picked to Win 2017 OVC Soccer Title

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From OVCSports.com...

For the second straight year, Murray State has been picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference soccer title as voted on the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. The Racers, who won a share of their second straight OVC regular-season crown last year, received 10 of the 22 first-place votes and 184 points. SIUE, the 2016 OVC Tournament Champion, earned six first-place votes and 168 points to be picked second. Eastern Kentucky, which won a share of its first OVC regular-season title last year, received four first place votes and 164 points for a third-place predicted finish while Tennessee Tech picked up the final two first-place nods and 157 points to be selected to finish fourth. Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri tied with 121 points each to complete the top five. Rounding out the poll are Belmont (95), Morehead State (76), Jacksonville State (54), UT Martin (50) and Eastern Illinois (20).

Murray State went unbeaten in OVC play last year with a 7-0-3 record while going 8-5-4 overall en route to a share of its third regular-season title. Jeremy Groves enters his fourth year at the helm of the Murray State soccer program and will have eight starters among 21 letterwinners returning this season. Two-time OVC Offensive Player of the Year Harriet Withers (Murmillumbah, Australia) is among the top returnees. The senior forward earned her second straight OVC Offensive Player of the Year last year after she ranked in the top five in the league in goals (8), points (20) and shots (74). Senior defender Nyomi Devine (Beaudesert, Austraila) will also be back this season after earning All-OVC second team honors last year. She was part of a defense that recorded seven shutouts to rank fourth in the OVC. She also notched a goal and an assist last year.

SIUE went 10-8-5 overall and 6-3-1 in the OVC to finish fourth in the league last year. The Cougars won their second OVC Tournament title last year and became just the second team in league history to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. SIUE defeated Notre Dame on penalty kicks in the first round of the NCAA tourney. Derek Burton begins his 10th year as the head coach of the Cougars. Burton will have senior midfielder/forward Emily Grahl (Washington, Mo.) and sophomore midfielder/forward Peyton Roehnelt (Metamora, Ill.) returning from last year. Grahl earned second team All-OVC honors in 2016 after she finished second in the league with six assists. She also recorded three goals and 12 points last season. Roehnelt recorded five goals to rank in the top 10 in the OVC last year. The 2016 All-Newcomer pick also had one assist and 11 points.

Eastern Kentucky is coming off a season in which it went 13-5-1 overall and 8-2 in the OVC to win a share of its first OVC regular-season title. Nick Flohre, who won Coach of the Year honors last year, enters his second season at the helm of the Colonels. He will have nine starters among 16 letterwinners back from last year’s team. Among the top returnees are senior forward Jordan Foster and senior goalkeeper Anna Hall. Foster, a first-team All-OVC selection, ranked third in the OVC with eight goals and 21 points. She also finished fourth with five assists last season. Hall, who was named to the All-OVC second team, led the league with 11 shutouts last season. She also ranked third in goals-against average (0.78) and fourth in saves (87).

The OVC Soccer Championship will expand to eight teams this season. The first rounds and quarterfinals will take place Oct. 27 and 29 at the campus of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. The semifinals and championship will be on the campus of the No. 1 seed on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5. The 2017 season gets underway on Aug. 18 with conference play beginning, Sept. 14.


2017 OVC WOMEN’S SOCCER PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
(As selected by the OVC Women’s Head Soccer Coaches and Sports Information Directors)

1. Murray State (10 first-place votes) - 184
2. SIUE (Six first-place votes) - 168
3. Eastern Kentucky (Four first-place votes) - 164
4. Tennessee Tech (Two first-place votes) - 157
t5. Austin Peay - 121
t5. Southeast Missouri - 121
7. Belmont - 95
8. Morehead State - 76
9. Jacksonville State - 54
10. UT Martin - 50
11. Eastern Illinois - 20

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