The Ole Miss women's soccer team was selected to win the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference, according to the 1998 coaches poll released Monday by the SEC.
"That's our goal. We believe we can win the SEC west," said Lady Rebel head coach Steve Holeman. "After three years trying to establish this program, it's nice to gain a little respect in the conference."
The Lady Rebels received 54 points, 30 of which were first-place points, to edge out Alabama (51 points) and Auburn (50 points). Both the Crimson Tide and the Tigers each notched 18 first-place points. Arkansas placed fourth with 41 points, Mississippi State place fifth with 27 points and LSU rounded out the Western Division with 23 points.
The confidence that the coaches have in the Lady Rebels finishing on top of the Western Division comes after Ole Miss finished the 1997 season with its first-ever winning record, 11-9, and a first-ever bid to the SEC Tournament. With 17 letterwinners and 8 starters returning to the 1998 team, the Rebels are in definite contention for the Western title.
"I don't think this honor adds any pressure on us, because we haven't won the Western Division before," said Holeman. "We will use this as motivation, because it's somewhere we haven't been before."
The Florida Gators earned the top bill in the Eastern Division of the SEC with 88 points. Florida received 10 first place votes in the poll and was selected as the favorite to claim the 1998 women's soccer title by the league's twelve coaches.
Ole Miss will return to action this Saturday at 7 p.m. as the Lady Rebels host the Tophatters of Atlanta, Ga., one of the nation's top select teams, at the Ole Miss Women's Soccer Stadium.