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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The Saint Louis Billikens have been chosen as the Atlantic 10 Conference preseason women's soccer favorite in a vote conducted by the league’s 14 head coaches.

The Billikens earned 192 votes and ten first-place tallies to take the top spot in the rankings. Alli Klug, who was named to the 2018 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, is joined by Maddie Pokorny, Olivia Petit, and Courtney Reimer on the A-10 Preseason All-Conference squad.

La Salle ranked second in the predicted order of finish with 184 points and four first-place votes, followed by Duquesne and George Mason, who each tallied 145 votes to round out the top four spots.

Saint Louis (15-3-2; 7-2-1 A-10) returns 20 players, seven of whom earned 2017 postseason accolades. Leading the way were Klug, Petit and goalkeeper Mary Niehaus, all of whom landed on the All-Region and All-Conference first teams, while Pokorny, Evie Lavelle and Reimer made the All-Conference second team. This year's roster includes players who combined to score 41 of the 2017 team’s 42 goals. Last year’s squad set a team record for fewest goals allowed (10) and matched the team mark for shutouts (13).

Under the direction of reigning Coach of the Year in Paul Royal, La Salle (17-4-2; 9-0-1) returns six starters from one of the most explosive offensive units in the country. The Explorers scored a program-record 48 goals to rank ninth nationally and look to repeat as Atlantic 10 Champions behind All-Conference honorees and sisters, Madison and Maci Bower. Defensively, Taylor Newhart, a second-team selection, returns to the lineup as well as All-Rookie selections from a year ago, Amirah Louketis and Jenna Soriano.

George Mason (9-9-2; 6-2-2 A-10) returns five starters, including All-Conference honoree Louisa Moser, who was the first Patriot goalie to be selected to the A-10 All-Rookie squad. Offensively, the Patriots will rely on Emily Littel, and Rebecca Callison, who accounted for eight goals and nine assists last season. George Mason was the third seed in last year's A-10 Championship, before falling in the opening round to VCU.

The Dukes (11-6-3; 6-3-1 A-10) are led by Katie O'Connor, Casey Aunkst and goalie Kyra Murphy, who recorded eight shutouts and 97 saves. O'Connor netted a team-high eight goals last season, four of which were gamewinners, good for second best in the A-10. Last season, Duquesne fell to eventual champion, La Salle, in overtime of the semifinals of the 2017 Championship.

The league’s head coaches also voted for an 11-member Preseason All-Conference Team.

The top eight teams will compete in the 2018 Atlantic 10 Women’s Soccer Championship. The opening rounds will be held on the campus of the higher seeds on Oct. 27 and 28. The top four teams will then advance to play at Dayton's Baujan Field in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 2. The championship finale will be held on Sunday, Nov. 4 with the winner earning the A-10’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Preseason First Team

Madison Bower, La Salle, F

Katie O’Connor, Duquesne, F

Maddie Pokorny, Saint Louis, F

Dakota Mills, Saint Joseph’s, F

Olivia Petit, Saint Louis, MF

Jenny Hipp, Massachusetts, MF

Courtney Reimer, Saint Louis, MF

Alli Klug, Saint Louis, D

Casey Aunkst, Duquesne, D

Paige Bergman, Saint Joseph’s, D

Kyra Murphy, Duquesne, GK

Preseason PollFirst-Place Votes in Parenthesis

1. Saint Louis192 (10)

2. La Salle184 (4)

T-3. Duquesne145

T-3. George Mason145

5. VCU140

6. Saint Joseph's136

7. Dayton119

8. George Washington98

9. Fordham83

10. Massachusetts72

11. Richmond58

T-12. St. Bonaventure36

T-12. Davidson36

14. Rhode Island25

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