FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — After finishing the 2016 season with a 4-4-1 conference record that saw it advance to the CAC playoffs as the sixth seed, the Salisbury University women's soccer team has been selected to finish tied for fourth place in the CAC coaches' preseason poll released on Wednesday.
The Sea Gulls received 56 points in the preseason poll, tied with the University of Mary Washington, trailing only Christopher Newport University (78 points), St. Mary's College of Maryland (66) and Frostburg State University (64).
The 2017 season, which is set to begin this Friday in the Salisbury University Classic, has a number of key players returning to help lead the team to another CAC tournament berth — a feat they have yet to fall short of since joining the conference in 1994.
Senior forward Ruthie Lucas returns for her final season looking to build on her breakout junior year when she was a first-team All-CAC selection scoring 15 points on six goals and three assists. Lucas will command the front unit that should see an increase in offensive production from last year.
Within the midfield is a great amount of depth and creativity. The unit will be led by senior Jamie Tacka and junior Jenna Taylor. Tacka is one of the team's most all-around athletic talents and Taylor has an elite ability to set up teammates.
Senior Rachel Anderson will anchor a defense that should improve from last year with the healthy return of sophomore Ryan Wright. Wright missed all of her freshman season while healing from a knee injury.
The final piece to the team's success lies in the hands of senior Goalkeeper Hope Knussman, who is poised to become one of the top talents in net in the conference this season. Knussman took over the starting job in 2016 and finished tied for third in the conference with 70 saves.
Salisbury opens up its 2017 season this Friday, September 1 at 2 p.m., with a match against Shenandoah University as a part of the annual Salisbury University Classic. CAC play opens up for the Sea Gulls on September 23 when the team travels to Southern Virginia University to take on the Knights.
To see the CAC coaches' poll in its entirety, click here.
To see the CAC preview video, click here.