Forest, Va. -- Talk about the ultimate sign of respect.
Despite losing nearly all of its starting unit from a season ago, University of Lynchburg's women's soccer team was overwhelmingly chosen first in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference's preseason coaches poll, the league office announced Tuesday.
Lynchburg reached the NCAA Division III tournament's quarterfinal round a season ago and had seven players garner All-ODAC honors, but none of those players will take the pitch for the Hornets this season.
But Lynchburg remained atop the coaches' ballot, garnering 10 first-place votes and 166 points in the poll, 17 more than second-place Virginia Wesleyan.
"We're excited about the challenge of trying to repeat, considering we have to replace nine starters, seven of whom were all-conference," Lynchburg's head women's soccer coach, Dr. Todd Olsen, said.
That isn't to say, though, that the Hornets can't do it.
"Our program is designed to reload rather than rebuild," Olsen said, "and we have people in the works who are developing every year. We definitely have the next man up mentality, and some of our women know this year is going to be their time."
The Hornets have been masters of rebuilding over the past decade-plus. Lynchburg is in search of the program's 13th-consecutive NCAA tournament berth in 2019, and the program will look to three-peat as ODAC champions.
That quest begins this weekend with a trip to Salem for the Roanoke Invitational Soccer Showcase. Lynchburg will take on Johns Hopkins and Mt. St. Mary (N.Y.) at the tournament.
Visit Lynchburg athletics' home online, LynchburgSports.com, anytime for up-to-the-minute news on all Hornets sports and coverage from the Lynchburg Hornets Sports Network. Click here to sign up for customizable email and text alerts from Lynchburg athletics.
2019 ODAC WOMEN'S SOCCER PRESEASON POLL
First-place votes in parentheses
1. University of Lynchburg (10) 166 pts.
2. Virginia Wesleyan University (2) 149 pts.
3. Bridgewater College (2) 146 pts.
4. Randolph-Macon College 131 pts.
5. Washington and Lee University 130 pts.
6. Roanoke College 111 pts.
7. Shenandoah University 98 pts.
8. Eastern Mennonite University 71 pts.
9. Ferrum College 69 pts.
10. Guilford College 63 pts.
11. Randolph College 59 pts.
12. Emory & Henry College 43 pts.
13. Hollins University 20 pts.
14. Sweet Briar College 18 pts.