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Experienced Austin Peay Govs picked seventh in OVC preseason poll

APSU Sports Information

APSU Soccer - Austin Peay State UniversityBrentwood, TN – Austin Peay State University women’s soccer team was predicted to finish tied for seventh place in the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll, as voted on by head coaches and sports information representatives.

Defending OVC regular season and tournament champion Murray State was the overwhelming pick to win the league, receiving 18 first-place votes.

Austin Peay Soccer has exhibition game against Georgia State August 14th. (APSU Sports Information) [1]

Austin Peay Soccer has exhibition game against Georgia State August 14th. (APSU Sports Information)

Southeast Missouri (150 points) was voted second, followed by Tennessee Tech (147, one first-place vote), UT Martin (140, two first-place votes) and Jacksonville State (137).

Morehead State (134 points, one first-place vote) was the final school picked to reach the postseason in sixth place. SIU Edwardsville (84) was also seventh in a tie with the Governors, followed by Belmont (67), Eastern Kentucky (49) and Eastern Illinois (21).

“Being picked seventh will definitely serve as a motivator for our team,” head coach Kelley Guth [2] said. “I think that’s valuable for us moving forward knowing this league views us as not good enough to make the tournament. That’s something that can hopefully help drive us to improve our performance each day and get to a place where we are contending for that championship at the end of the year.”

Austin Peay returns eight starters from last season’s group which came one win away from reaching the postseason. Among those returnees are APSU’s top three goal scorers from 2015 – senior Gina Fabbro [3], sophomore McKenzie Dixon [4] and senior Nicole Wojcik [5]. The talented trio combined for 26 goals, with Dixon and Fabbro earning All-OVC first and second team accolades, respectively, for their efforts.

In addition, seniors Mary Ruth Locastro [6] and Natalie Smith [7] return to anchor a strong defensive unit, while Brianna Avitabile [8] completes the experienced senior class.

“Having a stronger group of returning players this season brings us into the preseason at a higher level than we’ve been in the past,” Guth said. “Our senior class will guide our team, with two steadfast players with a lot of experience and minute played – Fabbro and Locastro – leading the team.”

Four incoming freshman – Melody Fisher [9], Mary Parker Powell [10], Renee Semaan [11] and Taylor White [12] – will make their collegiate debuts this season. The highly-praised group are expected to develop chemistry with teammates and compete for playing time right away.

“It’s a small class, and from a coaching standpoint, it’s good because it’s a small group we’re trying to mix with a large group of experienced players,” Guth said. “They are working very hard. I still see smiles on their faces, so that’s been a good thing even though it has been challenging with the physical demands.”

The Governors will have one exhibition contest – August 14th at Georgia State – before the season officially begins at UAB, August 19th.