soccerballUniv. of Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s West and Texas Southern’s Mitchell capture top honors; Mississippi Valley State, Grambling State predicted divisional winners

BIRMINGHAM – The Southwestern Athletic Conference announced its 2009 preseason soccer honors Wednesday with Univ. of Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Jade West and Texas Southern’s Saycha Mitchell garnering top honors. The preseason teams were voted on by the schools’ coaches and sports information departments.

West – a 5-foot-5 sophomore forward – was named the SWAC’s 2009 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Last season, West played in 16 games while scoring 17 goals and 13 assists (47 points). She scored four game-winning goals in 2008 and had a 71 percent shot-on-goal percentage. The Ajax, Ontario Canada native led the SWAC last year in numerous statistical categories including: shots (62), points, goals, and assists. West was also the NCAA Division I Statistical Champion in points per game (2.94), goals per game (1.06), and Co-Champion in the single game points (10) category. She was named conference offensive player of the week twice and was the 2008 SWAC Offensive and Freshman Player of the Year.

Mitchell – a 5-foot-7 junior midfielder – was voted as the SWAC’s 2009 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. In 2008, Mitchell played in 12 games while averaging a team best 2.08 shots per game average (10th in the SWAC). The Sacramento, California native tallied 25 shots last season and helped the Lady Tigers pitch two shutouts. Mitchell finished the 2008 season as a member of the all-conference second team.

In the predicted order of finish, Mississippi Valley State and Grambling State were selected to win the Eastern and Western division, respectively.

In the Eastern division, Mississippi Valley State – the defending 2008 SWAC Soccer Champions – garnered eight first place votes while registering 73 voting points. Alabama A&M (seven first-place votes) was second with 70 points while Jackson State (two first-place votes) was third with 68 points. Rounding out the Eastern division was Alabama State (33 points) and Alcorn State (26).

In the Western division, Grambling State was chosen first with 10 first-place votes while tallying 79 voting points. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (six first-place votes) was picked second with 68 points and Texas Southern was selected third with 45 points. Prairie View A&M (42 points) and Southern (36 points) close out the Western division.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff had five players chosen for preseason honors – two on the first team. Grambling State had four selections; Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State each had three players placed on the preseason list while Alabama A&M, Southern, and Texas Southern all had two. Prairie View A&M had one representative on the preseason squad.


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