The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC soccer asserting itself as a national powerhouse

108 days ago
SEC Staff
Photo: SEC Staff

As Southeastern Conference women's soccer eagerly awaits the start of its 28th season in 2020, the conference has firmly established itself as one of the premier conferences in soccer.

While the sport has grown exponentially across the nation, the Southeastern part of the country has been a leader.

The SEC had five teams selected to participate in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Two teams earned national seeds and four teams earned the right to host their opening round match on their home pitch.

Over the last nine years, the SEC has earned 63 NCAA Tournament bids - an average of seven per year - with all 14 member institutions making at least one appearance during that span. Eight different SEC teams have advanced to the Round of 16 since 2013 and the league has placed teams in the NCAA quarterfinals in each of the last six seasons.

Arkansas' 8-1-1 league record earned the Razorbacks their first SEC Championship in 2019. South Carolina earned its second SEC Tournament championship with a 2-0 win over Arkansas in Orange Beach, Ala.

The SEC's balance has been shown in league play as five different teams - Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt - have won SEC regular season titles in the last nine seasons. Also, five different teams - Auburn, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M - have won SEC Tournament championships since 2011.

In 2019, Texas A&M's Ally Watt and Jimena Lopez were named the SEC Forward and SEC Midfielder of the year, respectively. Arkansas' Haley VanFossen and South Carolina's Grace Fisk shared SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors while South Carolina's Mikayla Krzeczowski was named SEC Goalkeeper of the Year. Arkansas' Colby Hale was named SEC Coach of the Year and the Razorbacks' Anna Podojil was Freshman of the Year. Alabama's Nealy Martin, Mississippi State's MaKayla Waldner and Missouri's Sarah Luebbert were SEC Co-Scholar-Athletes of the Year.

Five SEC players earned All-America honors from the United Soccer Coaches, including first team selections Fisk and Watt. Krzeczowski, VanFossen and Podojil each earned third team honors.

SEC's players have garnered 51 All-America awards from the United Soccer Coaches since 2011. SEC players have earned 12 first team All-America honors during that time and three have earn multiple first team honors (South Carolina's Sabrina D'Angelo in 2013 and 2014; South Carolina's Savannah McCaskill in 2016 and 2017; and South Carolina's Fisk in 2018 and 2019).

Alabama's Martin was a 2019 First Team CoSIDA Academic All-America while South Carolina's Fisk was named the United Soccer Coaches Scholar Player of the Year. Ten SEC players earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors this past season.

SEC fans have taken notice of the conference's rise nationally. The SEC has had at least five teams rank in the Top 25 nationally in attendance in eight of the last nine years. South Carolina and Texas A&M have both ranked in the Top Five in each of the last six years with the Aggies leading the nation with an average of 2,652 fans per game in 2018.

The incremental growth, combined with increasing exposure on the national and regional scene, has SEC women's soccer looking to blossom to new heights in the year 2020 and beyond.

In 2019, the SEC boasted ...

• One Senior CLASS Award finalist

• Two MAC Hermann Semifinalists

• One United Soccer Coaches' Scholar Player of the Year

• Three United Soccer Coaches' Scholar All-America

• Three CoSIDA Academic All-America

• 10 CoSIDA Academic All-District picks

• 12 programs earning United Soccer Coaches' College Team Academic Awards

• Five United Soccer Coaches' All-Americas, including two first team selections

• 26 student-athletes on the United Soccer Coaches' All-Region teams

• Five teams advancing to the NCAA Championships

• At least one team in the NCAA Quarterfinals for the sixth consecutive year

• Eight different schools have made Round of 16 appearances over the last seven years