Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions – Preseason Rank: 7th – 2018 Record/Place: 7-7-4 (4-4-3 SLC), 6thIn his second year at the helm, head coach Christopher McBride earned his first trip to the Southland Conference Tournament with a 4-4-3 mark in league play. The No. 7 team in the preseason poll holds the second-most regular season titles in conference history (5) and is tied for the most league tournament titles (4) among active members. McBride’s squad looks to continue building up with eight returning starters and 12 newcomers on the roster. FRISCO, Texas – The 2019 Southland Conference soccer season gets underway Thursday with four evening matchups, the first of 21 opening weekend games on the schedule. Opening Game: Aug. 23 vs. Southern, 7 p.m. Opening Game: Aug. 22 vs. Prairie View A&M, 7 p.m. Opening Game: Aug. 23 vs. Louisiana Tech, 7 p.m. Abilene Christian Wildcats – Preseason Rank: 1st – 2018 Record/Place: 15-6-1 (7-3-1 SLC), t-4thAfter winning the conference tournament in just their second season of postseason eligibility, the Wildcats enter the 2019 season as the favorites to win the conference. Finishing tied for fourth in the regular season, ACU upset No. 4 McNeese and top-seeded Central Arkansas on the way to the title game, where the Wildcats defeated No. 7 Stephen F. Austin 3-1. This team features a league-high eight preseason all-conference picks and return all but three student-athletes who took the field in the conference tournament championship match. Nicholls Colonels – Preseason Rank: 12th – 2018 Record/Place: 3-15 (1-10 SLC), 12thThe Colonels look to avoid another 12th-place finish under first-year head coach Danny Free, who begins his fifth season with the program after beginning as a graduate assistant and working his way up to assistant coach, interim head coach and ultimately head coach. Nicholls brings back six starters from the 2018 team, including goalie Roosa Hurmerinta, who notched 64 saves, and Blaire Laiche and Kristy Helmers, who combined for four goals in 2018. Opening Game: Aug. 22 at North Texas, 7 p.m. Lamar Cardinals – Preseason Rank: 3rd – 2018 Record/Place: 12-6-2 (7-2-2 SLC), 3rdThe league’s coaches and SIDs picked Lamar to finish third, the exact spot they finished in 2018 with a 7-2-2 record in conference matches. The Cardinals played host to the conference tournament and reached the semifinals, where they fell to No. 7 Stephen F. Austin 2-1. Lamar placed one on each of the preseason all-conference teams in first-team forward Madison Ledet and second-team forward Lucy Ashworth. Opening Game: Aug. 22 vs. Oklahoma State, 7:30 p.m. Houston Baptist Huskies – Preseason Rank: 5th – 2018 Record/Place: 10-8-1 (8-2-1 SLC), 2ndThe Huskies were picked to finish fifth in 2019 despite closing out last year’s campaign with the second-most points in the league, their highest finish since 2015. The longest-tenured coach in the conference, head coach Misty Jones enters her 14th season at the helm of HBU, holding a 38-21-8 (.627) league record since the Huskies joined the conference in 2013. The squad’s 12 returning letterwinners are headlined by Megan Rickert, a first-team selection at defender on the preseason all-conference teams. Central Arkansas Bears – Preseason Rank: 2nd – 2018 Record/Place: 16-4-1 (10-1 SLC), 1stThe Bears aim to defend their regular season championship after nearly running the table in 2018, entering the conference tournament as the top seed with a 10-1 mark. Winners of nine-straight to close last year’s regular season, UCA fell to eventual champion Abilene Christian in the semifinals. The Bears landed five on the preseason all-conference teams, led by first-team selections Hadley Dickinson and Connie Awuku-Darkoh. Week One Notes (PDF) Conference play begins on Sept. 20 with all 12 league teams in action. Defending Southland regular season champion Central Arkansas is set to host the 2019 Southland Conference Soccer Tournament at the Bill Stephens Track & Soccer Complex in Conway, Ark., from Nov. 6-10. UIW Cardinals – Preseason Rank: 11th – 2018 Record/Place: 3-12-1 (3-7-1 SLC), 9thThe Cardinals were just two points shy of qualifying for the program’s first Southland Conference Tournament in the first year under head coach Emma Wright-Cates. UIW returns 15 letterwinners and 11 of those individuals are sophomores or juniors. The Cardinals finished their season ranked 15th in the nation in saves (112) and the squad’s seven saves per game led the conference. Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks – Preseason Rank: 6th – 2018 Record/Place: 7-9-3 (3-5-3 SLC), t-7thThe Ladyjacks head into 2019 at the preseason No. 6 spot after finishing as the runner-up at the conference tournament for the second-straight year in 2018. Stephen F. Austin placed two on each of the preseason all-conference squads, including first-team honorees Carli Arthurs and Sophia Fondren. The program holds 10 all-time regular-season titles, the last coming in 2015, and won its last tournament title in 2012. This year is the 23rd edition of Southland women’s soccer, a conference sport since 1997. Sam Houston State kicks off first at home against Houston at 6:30 p.m. CT. Houston Baptist plays host to Prairie View A&M and Northwestern State visits North Texas at 7 p.m. Lamar hosts Oklahoma State at 7:30 p.m. to conclude the opening day action. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders – Preseason Rank: 9th – 2018 Record/Place: 5-9-3 (2-7-2 SLC), t-10thThe Islanders, who missed qualifying for the conference tournament in 2018, are the No. 9 team in the preseason poll. A&M-Corpus Christi had a pair of encouraging preseason exhibitions, including a 1-0 win over reigning Big 12 champion Baylor in Waco. Goalkeeper Kyleigh Hall didn’t allow a goal in 180 minutes of preseason action. Opening Game: Aug. 23 at New Mexico State, 5 p.m. Opening Game: Aug. 25 at Arizona State, 8 p.m. Opening Game: Aug. 23 vs Mississippi Valley State, 4 p.m. McNeese Cowgirls – Preseason Rank: 4th – 2018 Record/Place: 13-7-1 (7-3-1 SLC), t-4thThe preseason No. 4 Cowgirls are coming off a tie for fourth place in 2018, and McNeese’s 13-7-1 season came to an end at the hand of the tournament champions Abilene Christian in the opening round of the conference tournament. The Cowgirls are bringing back eight of their 11 starters from last season, including six members of the preseason all-conference teams. Opening Game: Aug. 23 at College of Charleston, 7 p.m. Opening Game: Aug. 22 vs. Houston, 6:30 p.m. Opening Game: Aug. 23 at Colorado College, 8 p.m. Sam Houston State Bearkats – Preseason Rank: 10th – 2018 Record/Place: 3-12-3 (2-7-2 SLC), t-10thAt the No. 10 preseason spot are the Bearkats, led by the second-longest serving active coach in the Southland Conference, Tom Brown. He enters his 12th season at the helm with Sam Houston State, bringing with him 16 returning letterwinners and six seniors. Perhaps the biggest hole for Sam Houston State to fill will be goalkeeper Christina Hendershot, who made 52 of the Bearkats’ conference-best 82 saves in Southland contests. Northwestern State Lady Demons – Preseason Rank: 8th – 2018 Record/Place: 10-10 (4-7 SLC), t-7thFirst-year co-head coaches Jess and Anna Jobe brought the Demons back to the conference tournament and look to repeat the feat in 2019. The No. 8 team in the preseason poll will also have a new look with only five juniors and seniors opposite 14 new faces. Among the returners are two members of the back line, Nicole Henry and Ashley Medawattage, and netminder Kayla Bomben. Opening Game: Aug. 23 at Texas State, 7 p.m.