Player to watch: North Texas sophomore striker Rachel Holden had 12 goals and 14 assists last season and is the league’s preseason offensive player of the year.
Key game: Charlotte at North Texas (Oct. 24), a game that matches the league’s preseason favorites and its top offensive player (Holden) and defender (Charlotte’s Monica Trickett).
Player to watch: Dayton striker Ashley Campbell led the A-10 in scoring last season with 18 goals.
Key game: Richmond at Davidson (Oct. 11) – the Wildcats play their first home game in their new conference.
Favorite: Florida State
Player to watch: Virginia’s Morgan Brian, a senior midfielder, won last season’s Hermann Award, college soccer’s top honor.
Game to watch: Florida State at North Carolina (Oct. 23) – the Seminoles won last season’s league title, going against the traditionally strong Tar Heels.
Player to watch: Furman junior Stephanie DeVita scored 15 goals and had nine assists last season, one year after winning league player-of-the year honors.
Game to watch: Samford at Furman (Oct. 17) – this game could go a long way toward deciding the regular-season title, with Bulldogs striker Malcanisha Kelley facing off against Furman’s DeVita.
Player to watch: South Carolina goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo was the league’s defensive player of the year in 2013, recording 12 shutouts and a goals-against average of .59.
Game to watch: Florida at South Carolina (Oct. 16) – Gamecocks were unbeaten at home last season on way to a 17-4-2 record.
Player to watch: Wingate’s Jade Montgomery led the SAC with 17 goals, 11 assists, 45 points and and 117 shots as the Lions won the league and made it to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals.
Game to watch: Wingate at Lenoir-Rhyne (Sept. 20) – the Bears’ Garcelle Alequine, who joined Montgomery on the Division II All-America third team last season, will give the Lions all they can handle.
Favorite: Belmont Abbey
Player to watch: Pfeiffer’s Brae Buster was one of the league’s top scorers last season as a freshman with 10 goals and three assists.
Player to watch: Winthrop’s Krystyna Freeda is the Big South’s career leader with 19 game-winning goals and is No. 3 on the all-time scoring list with 47.
Game to watch: Winthrop at Liberty (Oct. 22) – can the Eagles knock off the Flames, who won last season’s Big South tournament title?
Appalachian State plays for the first time in the Sun Belt and has a pair of standout forwards in Julia Holz and Sam Childress … Three Carolinas schools – Elon, UNC Wilmington and College of Charleston – are now in the Colonial Athletic Association … UNC Wilmington striker Katrina Guillou and midfielder Stephanie Bronson are preseason all-conference players … East Carolina is picked to finish eighth in the American Athletic Conference, with defender Caitlin Hite a preseason all-conference pick.
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