GREENEVILLE, S.C. – The Lees-McRae College women's soccer team was picked to finish eighth in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll the league office announced Friday afternoon. The trio of Autumn Esposito, Kiara Montenegro and Pali Smith were picked as players to watch for the Bobcats in 2019.
Limestone was picked to win the conference after collecting 117 points and eight of 12 first-place votes. The Saints, who have won the last four conference crowns, were followed in the top five by Belmont Abbey (112 points), North Greenville (91 points), Chowan (80 points) and Emmanuel (75 points).
The next five programs in the poll were separated by a total of just 17 points. Barton (67 points) came in sixth followed by Mount Olive (58 points), Lees-McRae (54 points), Erskine (51 points) and Southern Wesleyan (50 points). Finally, closing out the preseason prognostication were Converse (24 points) and King (13 points).
Esposito is one of just three seniors on this season's women's soccer team. Esposito was limited to just seven games a season ago but scored six points (2g, 2a) in those contests. For her career, Esposito has notched 10 points (4g, 2a) in 45 matches.
Like Esposito, Montenegro was limited in her games played last season due to injury. The Orlando, Florida native will look to bounce back this fall and recapture her 2017 form where she netted five goals (three game-winning) on her way to being named to the All-Conference Carolinas Third Team.
Finally, Smith made an immediate impact for the Bobcats during her first season with the program. The Fairview, North Carolina native finished her freshman campaign tied for the team-lead in goals (two) and points scored (six).
Lees-McRae will begin its 2019 regular season on September 5 when it visits Lenoir-Rhyne in a non-conference matchup.