For the second year in a row, St. Thomas Women's Soccer was picked as the MIAC's team to beat in the preseason poll of conference head coaches.
Nine of 11 opposing head coaches tabbed St. Thomas first on their ballots, with Augsburg getting three votes at No. 1. St. Thomas, Augsburg, Gustavus, Macalester, St. Ben's and Bethel took the top six spots.
St. Thomas finished with a 10-0-1 conference record in 2016 to repeat as MIAC regular-season champion. The Tommie defense recorded eight shutouts and allowed only three goals in those 11 contests.
UST, 17-3-1 last season, missed cracking the Division III top 25 poll, but is among 10 teams that received votes. Last year's Tommies raced to a 17-1-1 start before losing a pair of 1-0 decisions in the postseason. The Toms outscored opponents 32-6, with a school-record 15 shutouts.
Coach Sheila McGill's UST squad plays four of its first five games at home, including Friday's 1 p.m. season opener against UW-Stevens Point.
Tommie Women's Soccer has improved from eight wins in 2014, to 12 in 2015, to 17 in 2016.
St. Thomas graduated only two seniors -- All-America goalkeeper Tarynn Theilig, and All-Region midfielder Taylor Skorik. UST returns All-America forward and rising junior Mallory DeBoom (Career: 40 games, 17 goals, 11 assists); and rising senior Brielle Bierman (Career: 50 games, 15 goals, 11 assists).
Coach Sheila McGill (110-61-20 overall) needs two wins to become the all-time winningest head coach in program history. Joe Kryschyshen built a 111-69-9 record in 11 seasons from 1985-95. McGill played in the MIAC at St. Mary's and also was an assistant coach at St. Catherine four seasons before coming to UST in 2007. She has guided the Toms to winning records in the MIAC portion of the schedule each of thre last nine seasons.
McGill's squad plays four of its first five games at home, including Friday's 1 p.m. season opener against UW-Stevens Point.