Photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com: UMHB women’s soccer celebrates a goal against Jacksonville College
BELTON- Coming off a season in which she became the third player in program history to earn All-America honors, UMHB forward Maria Rico was named the ASC’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, and rightfully so.
A senior entering this fall, Rico led the Cru in goals (13), assists (five), points (31) and game-winning goals (five), while claiming the ASC’s Offensive Player of the Year award and First Team All-Region honors.
Her impact is expected to be key for UMHB, who was picked No. 2 in the conference’s preseason poll, considering she is the first player in program history to return following the season in which she was named an All-American.
UMHB earned two first-place votes and 177 points, while Hardin-Simmons, the winner of 19 consecutive ASC titles, was picked No. 1. The Cowgirls accumulated 17 of the available 20 first-place votes, tallying 196 points, and will be led this season by first-year head coach Lane Key. Sul Ross State earned a single first-place vote, despite coming off an 0-10 ASC mark a year ago, and despite that single vote, SRSU finished tied for No. 9 in the poll with LeTourneau as each received a total of 43 points from the group of 20 voters.
The complete ASC Preseason Poll is below, with total points in parentheses:
- Hardin-Simmons (196)
- UMHB (177)
- Concordia (TX) (141)
- McMurry (122)
- UT-Dallas (119)
- ETBU (107)
- Howard Payne (103)
- Ozarks (49)
- Sul Ross State, LeTourneau (43)
Joining Rico on the preseason “Players to Watch List” was defender Kristen Burdick and midfielder Shay Taylor. Both Burdick and Taylor enter their fifth seasons with the program and were voted First Team All-ASC at the conclusion of last season. Burdick will be critical to the success of UMHB’s back line, which recorded 13 shutouts in 2021, while Taylor, who played 80 or more minutes in nine games last season, is expected to be a consistent force once again for the Cru.
UMHB begins its regular season slate on Sept. 1 in Abilene, battling Wisconsin-Whitewater. Two days later in Abilene, the Cru faces St. Scholastica, meaning head coach Barry Elkins’ team will get two quality non-conference tests on a neutral field in the first week of the season.