BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With the 2017 soccer season beginning this Friday, four Razorbacks were tabbed to the Southeastern Conference’s preseason soccer watch list on Wednesday.
Senior Jessi Hartzler leads the group along with junior Carly Hoke and sophomores Kayla McKeon and Stefani Doyle. Arkansas was one of eight teams in the league to have four or more players named to the watch list and it’s the second-straight year on the list for Hoke.
Jessi Hartzler (Sr./Defender)
Hartzler, one of three seniors on the team, leads a Razorback defense that posted seven shutouts a year ago, the second most in a season in program history. Hartzler wasn’t just a premier defender, she showed plenty of offensive prowess as well as she scored a career-high eight goals with four game-winners in 24 games.
After Arkansas’ 2-1 upset win over No. 4 Florida, Hartzler was named the NCAA National Player of the Week and finished the season as a second team All-SEC and NSCAA All-South Region player.
Carly Hoke (Jr./Defender)
As for Hoke, the Lake Forest, Illinois native hopes to continue to anchor the defense as she is coming off a career-high 24 appearances in 2016 with 1,764 minutes played, the third-highest total on the team. Over the last two years, Hoke has appeared in 42 matches with 41 starts and was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2015.
Kayla McKeon (So./Forward)
McKeon is coming off a stellar freshman campaign where she earned 22 starts and collected nine goals, good for second on the team and ninth in the SEC. Twice McKeon scored two goals in a single game (Northern Iowa – 9/1, Mississippi State – 9/9) and she was selected to the SEC All-Freshman team, joining teammate Stefani Doyle.
Stefani Doyle (So./Midfielder)
Doyle was another strong player in Arkansas’ midfield last season as she added six goals and three assists (15 points) in 24 matches and ranked fifth in the conference in shots (68) with 24 being on goal (.500). She got her collegiate career off to a hot start when she scored in three consecutive games (James Madison – 8/19, VCU – 8/21, No. 2 Duke – 8/26), including hitting the game-winner against the Blue Devils for Arkansas’ first win over a top-five team in program history.
Doyle went on to be named to the SEC All-Freshman team, the NSCAA All-South Region Third Team and finished the season as the No. 14 player in TopDrawerSoccer.com’s ‘Women’s Freshman Top 100’ list.
SEC Preseason Coaches Poll
While these four Razorbacks earned preseason notions, Arkansas was picked to finish fifth in the SEC by the league head coaches earlier this week. The team only trails Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina, and Missouri. In 2016, Arkansas finished third in the SEC, its highest ever.
Arkansas kicks off the regular season on Friday against SMU in Dallas with first kick set for 7 p.m. The team will, then, travel to Denton, Texas to take on the North Texas Mean Green on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. Friday’s match at SMU will be televised on Cox Sports Television.
Season tickets are now on sale for $25. Each season ticket order will come with one 2017 Razorback Soccer scarf. Single-game tickets can be purchased for $5 at the Razorback Field box office, which opens one hour before kickoff on game days. Current students can be admitted with their UA ID, and children 17 and under are admitted free.
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2017 SEC Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll