NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont women's soccer program was predicted to finish sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll, the conference announced on Thursday.
In a vote among OVC head coaches and sports information directors, Belmont received 102 total vote points after finishing sixth during the regular season. Defending league champion Murray State was picked to repeat atop the OVC, receiving 18 first-place votes and accumulating 198 points.
UT Martin collected three first-place votes 174 points for second place while Eastern Kentucky received the final first-place vote and 147 points for a third place prediction. SIUE was predicted to finish in fourth with 134 points and Eastern Illinois tallied 106 points for a predicted fifth place finish, leading the Bruins by just four points.
Belmont finished the 2018 campaign with a 6-8-3 overall record, earning its third straight trip to the OVC tournament. The season was highlighted on Sept. 21, 2018, when head coach Heather Henson became the all-time wins leader in program history after the Bruins defeated Morehead State 1-0.
The Bruins return 12 players who appeared in 15 games or more, with six of those players scoring at least one goal. Junior forward Julie Garst, who was tabbed as an OVC Player to Watch, led all Belmont scorers with seven goals and 16 points total. Garst tallied 68 shots, the second most in program history in a single season, and earned All-OVC honors for the second consecutive season in 2018.
Sydney Cason, who was named to the All-OVC Newcomer team in 2017, adds depth to the Bruins after a season-ending injury sustained last season. Belmont also returns 2018 starting goalkeeper Lily Herman, who collected 70 saves and had a save percentage of .714.
The Bruins added some depth with eight newcomers to the roster, including Samford transfer Erin Patterson. Belmont kicks off the 2019 campaign with two exhibition games at Vanderbilt (Aug. 11) and Chattanooga (Aug.16) at Rose Park before starting the regular season at Western Kentucky on August 22.
2019 OVC Soccer Predicted Order of Finish
- Murray State (18 first-place votes) – 198
- UT Martin (3 first-place votes) – 174
- Eastern Kentucky (1 first-place vote) – 147
- SIUE – 134
- Eastern Illinois – 106
- Belmont – 102
- Southeast Missouri – 95
- Tennessee Tech – 92
- Morehead State – 64
- Austin Peay – 59
- Jacksonville State - 39