HIGH POINT, N.C. – Fresh off its first appearance in the Conference Carolinas semifinals since 2014, the Lees-McRae College women's soccer team was picked to finish third in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Poll the league office announced Thursday. Junior goalkeeper Alexis Feely and sophomores Riley Neese and Katie Jo Daniel were named players to watch for the Bobcats this fall.
Sitting at the top of the preseason poll is the defending conference champion, Limestone. The Saints enter the 2017 season ranked No. 21 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. Limestone collected seven of the 11 first place votes in the poll. Following the Saints, Belmont Abbey came in second with four first place nods and 94 points. Lees-McRae checked in third place with 71 points.
The next four teams in the poll were separated by just eight points overall. Checking in at fourth place was Converse with 66 points. After Converse, Barton and King (Tenn.) were tied for fifth with 60 points. Rounding out the top seven of the poll was Mount Olive with 58 points.
The final four teams in the poll were Southern Wesleyan (37 points), Erskine (25 points), Chowan (19 points) and North Greenville (18 points).
Feely, who is a junior from Wake Forest, N.C., was second in the conference with six shutouts in 2016. With those six shutouts to her credit, Feely was named to the All-Conference Carolinas Second Team for her efforts. Despite having two years of eligibility remaining, Feely already ranks in the top 10 in program history in saves (5th - 218), save percentage (9th - .801) and shutouts (8th – 11).
One of the defenders helping Feely log those six shutouts was sophomore defender Riley Neese. Neese played in 16 matches as a freshman in 2016. The Greensboro, N.C. native scored one goal and logged 14 shots overall and seven of those were on goal. Neese's goal came in the opening round of the Conference Carolinas tournament against Barton.
Daniel, meanwhile, scored five points last season (2g, 1a) in her first season as a Bobcat. Daniel's five points not only tied for the most from the team's 2016 freshman class but it is also the most for any returning player for the squad this fall. Daniel posted a season-high three points (1g, 1a) at Southern Wesleyan, while her other goal came against Pfeiffer.
The trio of Feely, Neese and Daniel along with the rest of the Bobcats will begin their 2017 regular season Aug. 31 at Newberry. Kickoff for that match is slated for 4 p.m.