RICHMOND, Va. – Following a run to the Colonial Athletic Association Championship match a season ago, the VCU Women's Soccer team is poised for yet another strong campaign. The Rams will look to make noise in their first season in the Atlantic 10 this fall after being selected to finish fourth in the league's preseason coaches' poll.
The Black & Gold was picked behind defending A-10 champion Dayton, which returns eight of 11 starters from last year's 19-win season. Cross-town rival Richmond and La Salle, which posted the conference's top two regular season records in 2011, were picked second and third, respectively.
VCU returns several key players from last year's squad, including their top two goal scorers with junior Courtney Conrad and reigning CAA Rookie of the Year Cristin Granados. The duo combined for 12 goals and 27 points, and was responsible for five of the team's nine game-winning scores.
The Rams will also look to continue their strong defensive play again this year as 2011 First Team All-CAA goalkeeper Kristin Carden returns to the net. She finished second in the CAA with a 0.68 goals against average, while posting 72 saves and nine shutouts. Carden also allowed one goal or less in 18 of her 21 games. In addition, VCU's defense took a 10-match unbeaten streak into the CAA title game, and once reeled off a 532-minute stretch without surrendering a goal (second longest in school history).
Massachusetts rounds out the top five, followed by Charlotte (sixth), St. Bonaventure (seventh), Fordham (eighth), and Saint Louis (ninth). The other A-10 newcomer Butler is selected 10th, followed by Xavier (11th), Rhode Island (12th), St. Joseph's (13th), George Washington (14th), Duquesne (15th), and Temple (16th).
The top eight teams in regular season play advance to the A-10 Women's Soccer Championship. This year, the tournament will be held at the University of Rhode Island's Soccer Complex in Kingston, R.I.
VCU, which finished 7-1-3 in its final 11 matches in 2011, including eight shutouts and just three goals against, travels to James Madison for an exhibition match on Aug. 12. The Rams begin the regular season against High Point at Sports Backers Stadium on Aug. 17. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
2012 A-10 Women's Soccer Predicted Order of Finish (2011 record)
1. Dayton (19-4-0, 7-2-0 A-10)
2. Richmond (13-5-3, 7-1-1 A-10)
3. La Salle (15-2-3, 7-0-2 A-10)
4. VCU (9-8-4, 6-2-3 CAA)
5. UMASS (14-5-2, 6-2-1 A-10)
6. Charlotte (7-10-4, 4-4-1 A-10)
7. St. Bonaventure (9-7-4, 4-2-3 A-10)
8. Fordham (8-8-3, 3-4-2 A-10)
9. Saint Louis (5-10-3, 3-5-1 A-10)
10. Butler (8-10-2, 3-5-0 Horizon)
11. Xavier (7-8-3, 2-5-2 A-10)
12. Rhode Island (7-10-2, 2-6-1 A-10)
13. Saint Joseph's (7-7-5, 2-4-3 A-10)
14. George Washington (5-12-2, 2-5-2 A-10)
15. Duquesne (3-14-1, 2-7-0, A-10)
16. Temple (5-12-1, 2-6-1, A-10)