After a noteworthy victory over Newberry this past Sunday, the Lincoln Memorial University women's soccer team made the leap to eighth in the NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA Division II Southeast Region rankings which were revealed late Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Railsplitters are off to a 3-1-1 start with a 2-0 mark in South Atlantic Conference play, and their biggest win in the early portion of the season came on Sunday when they edged Newberry, 2-1, at the LMU Soccer Complex. The Wolves traveled to Harrogate, Tennessee boasting the No. 4 regional ranking after opening the season with a perfect 3-0 mark. Lincoln Memorial used goals from Michelle Hunter (Tecumseh, Ontario) and Nicole McKinney (Ooltewah, TN) to open up a 2-0 lead after 45 minutes of action. Despite surrendering a goal in the 71st minute, the Lady Railsplitters held on for a 2-1 victory to win their second-straight game.
On September 11, the Lady Railsplitters nearly knocked off North Georgia, who moved to No. 1 in the Southeast Region and No. 7 in the nation according to this week's NSCAA rankings, in Dahlonega, Georgia. Nicole McKinney found the back of the net at the 45:45 mark to put LMU on top, 1-0, however, the Saints scored twice in the final 15 minutes of regulation to give LMU their lone loss of the season.
While Lincoln Memorial has displayed a much improved offensive unit, ranking third in the South Atlantic Conference with 11 total goals, the defensive back has been the torchbearer of the Lady Railsplitters' success. After five games, the Lady Railsplitters lead the South Atlantic Conference in goals allowed and goals against average as they have relinquished only three total goals and 0.57 goals per game. Behind that defensive line, sophomore netminder Kayla Stephens (Keller, TX) leads the league in goals against average as she is carrying a 0.62 mark in 438:05 minutes in goal. The Lady Railsplitters have already posted three shutouts in 2013.
Nicole McKinney has been at the forefront of the offensive attack for LMU thus far, netting a team-leading eight points which ranks fourth in the South Atlantic Conference. McKinney, along with Olivia Thompson (Melbourne, FL), are pacing the Lady Railsplitters with three goals apiece this season. Michelle Hunter and Rachael Vienneau (Woodstock, GA) are not far off of that pace as that duo has recorded two goals apiece.
The Lady Railsplitters will not have to wait long for a chance to knock off another regionally-ranked foe in the upcoming schedule. Lincoln Memorial is slated to host the Mars Hill Lions on Thursday at 1 p.m. before hitting the road to Hickory, North Carolina to take on the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, who moved to fourth in the NSCAA Southeast Region rankings this week, in South Atlantic Conference action.
For complete coverage of Lincoln Memorial University athletics, head over to www.LMURailsplitters.com.