BRISTOL, Tenn. – In just their second year in Conference Carolinas, the King University women's soccer team is coming off of their second consecutive conference tournament appearance. The Tornado have a solid group returning and will look to get back to the postseason for their third time in as many years in 2013.
King finished last season with an overall record of 4-10-2, while going 3-6-2 in Conference Carolinas play, landing them in eighth place in the CC standings. The Tornado saw their season come to an end in the conference tournament for the second consecutive season, falling at conference champion Lees-McRae College in 2012.
The 2013 team will look different from a season ago as the Tornado lost eight seniors, including their top three leading scorers. However, head coach Simon Duffy has brought in six newcomers and he is confident the returning group will pick up where the 2012 team left off.
King's top returning scorer is Rachel Thorpe, who netted one goal during her freshman campaign. The Ontario, Canada native also dished out a team-high three assists for a total of five points. Duffy will also rely on senior Devon Shanklin, sophomore Rayna Spears up front. Shanklin, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., took a redshirt year in 2012 while Spears, a Smyrna, Tenn., native appeared in seven games during her freshman season.
"We've got a few girls returning that we're excited about, obviously Rachel Thorpe up front, and Rayna Spears," Duffy said. "Rachel coming off last year did really well, and Rayna missed most of last year due to injury, but had a great spring for us, she was probably one of our best players this spring. So we're excited to see what she brings. We've got some young girls coming into the fray as well, some of our freshman so we're looking forward to it. We'll be young, but hoping we can build on what we did in the spring and carry it over to the fall."
Defensively the Tornado will be led by senior Bekah Ramstack who started all 16 games a season ago. The Wichita, Kan., native will be joined on the defensive end by fellow senior Kelsey Plummer, junior Grayson Collins and sophomore Keely Easterling. Plummer hails from Hendersonville, Tenn., and started six of the 10 games in which she appeared last season. A native of Bristol, Va., Collins made 13 appearances and 10 starts in 2013 while Easterling, a Bristol, Tenn., native appeared in all 16 games, making seven starts last season. After redshirting in 2012, Katie Keys will also compete for a spot in defensive backfield.
In goal, both Morgan Lawson returns for her sophomore season after starting six of the eight games in which she appeared in. The Goodview, Tenn., native led the Tornado with 65 saves during her freshman campaign in 2012. She will be pushed by freshman Nicole Dagher.
King was selected to finish sixth in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll. Belmont Abbey College was picked to win the league with Lees-McRae College and Limestone College being selected to finish second and third, respectively.
The Tornado open the 2013 campaign on the road with a test at Brevard College on September 5. King opens their home schedule just two days later against Bluefield College on September 7 at 2:00 p.m. The Tornado are slated to open Conference Carolinas play on Saturday, September 21 against Pfeiffer University at 2:00 p.m., kicking off a four-game home stand.