MACON, Ga. - With fall camp just under way, the Mercer women's soccer team learned that it was picked to finish tied for third in the 2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches' poll released by the conference office on Thursday afternoon.
Despite coming off a 2012 season in which Mercer set a new program record with 13 wins and earned its fifth appearance in the Atlantic Sun Tournament title game in the last six seasons, the Bears were picked tied for third and failed to receive one first-place vote.
"Obviously this is a new season and we have to understand that what we accomplished last season is in the past," head coach Tony Economopoulos said. "I do believe our preseason ranking is a little disconcerting, but we have to continue to prove that we can win consistently and at a high level in order to get the respect we deserve."
Florida Gulf Coast, who defeated Mercer in the A-Sun Tournament title game last season, was once again picked to win the conference according to the leagues' 10 head coaches.
FGCU was followed in the poll by Jacksonville and then Mercer and East Tennessee State who were both picked to finish third.
Gassie was the Bears lone representative on the 11-member the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun team. The 5-5 midfielder enjoyed a breakout 2012 campaign as she spearheaded a Mercer offense that led the A-Sun Conference with 40 goals scored a year ago. A Winter Park, Fla. native, Gassie tallied a team-high 19 points on six goals and seven assists last season and was rewarded by being voted onto the A-Sun Conference All-Academic team
"After looking at the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun team I honestly felt like we were a little slighted," Economopoulos said. "When you finish second in the conference and pile up 13 wins last season you would think we should garner some more individual honors. That's fine though, we will take this and use it as motivation throughout the year and earn the accolades at the end of the season when it really matters."
FGCU midfielder Ally Kasun was named the A-Sun Conference Player of the Year, Jacksonville defender Ally Lee was voted A-Sun Conference Defender of the Year and USC Upstate's Sarah Plantz was tabbed A-Sun Conference Goalkeeper of the Year.
Mercer kicks off its 2013 season on August 13, when it plays an exhibition contest against Eastern Kentucky at 4 p.m. at Bear Field.