Florida Tech Women’s Soccer, Keira McCarthy Garnering Early Love From Hero Sports
By Florida Tech Sports // August 25, 2016
Heros ranks Panthers at No. 18 to start season
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Despite a rather mediocre sixth-place projection in the recently announced Sunshine State Conference Women’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Hero Sports undoubtedly has different ideas for Florida Tech in 2016, placing the Panthers at No. 18 in the year’s first rankings release with sophomore forward Keira McCarthy capturing First Team All-American honors in the process.
Head coach Dustin Smith guided the club to 10 wins in year one at the helm, including victories over the likes of Rollins and Tampa. With eight starters back in the fold
in 2016, Panther fans have the right to think even more success could be on the way.
Despite the loss of all-region keeper Julia Kantor, the SSC’s most stout defense (0.76 goals-against average) from a year ago remains favorably intact with redshirt-junior Karlyn Prisco filling in as the anchor of the Panther backline.
In seven career appearances the Rockledge, Florida native has totaled three shutouts, and to make the transition even easier, has defensive stalwarts Lauren Bolhuis and Ciera Misner and their 102 combined career starts to lean on.
McCarthy, meanwhile, will head an offensive attack that expects to be improved in 2016. As a freshman, McCarthy finished third in the league in goals scored (11), notching a hat trick in an SSC Tournament victory over Rollins, en route to second team all-conference and all-region selections.
With five scores down the stretch spanning the final three games of the year, all signs point for bigger things to come in her sophomore campaign.
In what figures to key the growth and improvement of McCarthy even further, at least on paper, is the return of fellow forward Aubri Williamson. Williamson has dealt with injuries during the majority of the past two seasons, but still managed four goals in just three starts in 2015, to go along with the 14 she recorded in her last full season in Crimson and Gray in 2013.
Together, the 1-2 punch will be counted on in hopes of bringing the first SSC title back to Melbourne since 2010.
Three-time defending national champion Grand Valley State opens up in a familiar position at No. 1, while Columbus State, Embry-Riddle (Fla.), Central Missouri and Barry make up the remainder of the Top-5.
By the looks of it, Florida Tech’s schedule may very well be the toughest throughout the country in 2016. Not only will the Panthers face three of the aforementioned Top-5 programs in GVSU, ERAU and BU, but will also be tested by No. 12 West Florida, No. 14 Tampa and No. 22 Texas A&M-Commerce.
Smith and the Panthers will conclude the preseason with their annual Alumni Game this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET before welcoming A&M-Commerce to Rick Stottler Field for the start of the regular season on September 2.
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