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Lancers predicted to mount postseason run

After advancing to the Big South postseason in four of their first five years as a member of the conference, Longwood University’s women’s soccer program is predicted to return to the Big South Championship Tournament again in 2017 according to the Big South Preseason Women’s Soccer Coaches Poll, the league announced Thursday.

The league’s 10 coaches pegged Longwood for a fifth-place finish in the final conference standings, trailing first-place and reigning Big South champion Liberty University, second-place High Point University, third-place Campbell University and fourth-place Radford University. The Lancers received one third-place vote, two fourth-place votes, six fifth-place votes and a seventh-place vote in the poll, which calculates preseason rankings based on a weighted voting system.

“It’s flattering that our coaching peers think we are a top-five team,” Longwood Head Coach Todd Dyer said. “But a free ticket to the conference tournament doesn’t come with that vote. We know there’s work to be done and 10 legitimate programs in our league, so we will have to prove ourselves game by game throughout the season.”

Longwood junior defender Sydney Wallace, an All-Big South first team selection as a sophomore, also earned preseason recognition with a pair of votes and nine total points in the voting for Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. She finished third in the balloting.

Longwood’s fifth-place prediction comes on the heels of a trip to the semifinals of last year’s Big South Championship, in which the Lancers upset fifth-seeded Gardner-Webb University in a quarterfinal shootout before falling 1-0 in a marathon overtime semifinal bout against No. 1 seed and eventual Big South runner-up High Point.

That postseason surge was the culmination of a drastic midseason turnaround for the Lancers. Dyer, the Longwood women’s soccer program founder who is entering his 24th season as head coach at his alma mater, sparked the team to a 6-3-1 finish over their final 10 regular-season games last year.

That momentous finish secured the Lancers a 5-3-1 record in Big South play and status as the conference’s top defensive team.