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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Western Carolina women’s soccer placed two on the 2018 Preseason All-Southern Conference team, and the Catamounts were picked to finish fourth on the preseason poll, presented Thursday morning by the conference office and voted on by the league coaches.

Western Carolina, which made its first appearance in the tournament title game since 2008 last year, put senior forward Megan McCallister and senior midfielder Sayres McKenna on the preseason All-Socon team. Both were second-team all-conference picks in 2017.

McCallister was a true catalyst for the Western Carolina club in 2017. She led the team in almost every offensive category including pacing the team in goals (10) and points (26). She ranks second on the team in assists with six. McCallister's 10 goals this season are the most by a Catamount women's soccer player since Lauren Bramlett also scored 10 in the 2001 season and also ranked fourth in the Southern Conference. McCallister's 26 points were good for third in the SoCon for the 2017 season and rank her tied for fifth in the WCU record books. She scored one game-winning goal, against Wofford, and added six assists including the assist on Emily Threatt's goal that gave WCU a 1-0 win over VMI and sent the Catamounts to the semifinals of the 2017 SoCon Championships.

McKenna was a 2017 Southern Conference All-Tournament selection as well as SoCon All-Conference second team pick. Last season, she ended the year with four goals, seven assists, and 15 points. All four goals scored by McKenna were game-winners. In the Catamount record books, McKenna ended her junior campaign with 19 assists ranking her fourth in career assists. She needs two assists to move into third place replacing former standout, and WCU Hall of Fame member, Nardia Moore who ended her career with 20.

Picked to finish fourth in the conference race for 2018, Western Carolina’s preseason rank is the highest for the team under Head Coach Chad Miller. It is also the best-predicted finish for the Catamounts since the team was chosen to finish second prior to the 2009 season.

Samford, which garnered three first-place votes, finished with 75 points to top the poll for the fifth time in the last seven years. Defending tournament champion UNCG was second with 74 points despite earning five first-place votes, narrowly missing being the favorite for the first time since 2011. Furman, which tied with Samford for the regular-season title last year, finished third with 68 points and the remaining two first-place votes, and Western Carolina, which fell to UNCG in the tournament final a year ago, was picked fourth with 56 points.

While the top four teams in the poll separated themselves from the pack, the middle of the poll was tight. ETSU and Mercer tied for fifth in the poll with 39 points apiece, and Chattanooga was right behind with 38 points. VMI earned 25 points to edge Wofford by two for eighth place, while The Citadel rounded out the poll with 13 points.

Western Carolina will play an exhibition match at Appalachian State at 7 p.m. Friday and will offically open the 2018 season at Kennesaw State on Aug. 17. 

 

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