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Monica Trickett (left) and Amanda Jones (right) represent the 49ers on...
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Niners tabbed preseason favorite; Trickett as DPOY
IRVING, Texas – Conference USA women’s soccer coaches have decided the road to the 2014 league title will run through the Queen City and Transamerica Field this fall, as they have selected Charlotte as the preseason conference favorite as announced Tuesday morning. The 49ers, who will serve as the host for the Conference USA Championships in November, feature 20 returners and eight starters back for head coach John Cullen’s sixth season.

“We’re very honored to be considered preseason No. 1, especially in a very strong conference,” Cullen said. “As a head coach in this league, I recognize that. We know it’s just a number but hopefully this will give the players extra belief and incentive to continue the success we had last year. We know it’s a long season, and at the end of the year is when we want to be No. 1. We’re thankful and appreciative of the votes and honored to be considered the top team.”

One of the Niners’ returning all-conference performers, junior defender Monica Trickett, was named the preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. Trickett had a breakout campaign last fall, as she earned All-Conference USA Second Team and All-Conference USA Tournament Team honors after helping Charlotte claim the league’s East Division title in its first year back in the league. She stepped into a midseason captaincy role, a spot in which she will inherit on a full-time basis in 2014.

Trickett is joined on the preseason all-league squad by senior midfielder Amanda Jones, who had a career year in 2013 on her way to also garnering All-Conference USA Second Team and All-Conference USA Tournament Team accolades. Jones, who will share the captaincy duties with Trickett, finished with 10 goals and 23 points, topping the team in both categories. Among her double-digit tallies were four game winners, which tied the second highest overall total by any of her teammates.

“We’re super proud of both of these young ladies. Both were very consistent and had superb performances for us last year and throughout their careers. The great thing about both of them is they will be the first to attribute a lot of their success to their teammates because they are team-first players. We are delighted for them, and like everybody else, we expect them to have good seasons for us. We look forward to watching them play and leading us once again.”

The 49ers are one of just three schools, along with Florida Atlantic and Rice, to have multiple players chosen to the preseason all-conference squad. The league, featuring 14 playing members, consolidated into one division this fall instead of the division split from past seasons.

Charlotte will begin its preseason camp Thursday with the team’s first exhibition contest lined up for 7 p.m. Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C., against ACC foe Wake Forest. The 49ers will be on the road for their first seven matches, including both exhibitions, before finally making their Transamerica Field season debut Sept. 17 against Winthrop.

Ticket information for home matches and the conference tournament can be obtained by calling the Charlotte ticket office at 704.687.4949. Follow the program’s official Twitter account (@49ersWSoccer) for more team-specific news and notes.

Rachel Holden, So., F, North Texas (Lancaster, Texas)

Monica Trickett, Jr., D, Charlotte (Raleigh, N.C.)

Amanda Jones, Sr., M, Charlotte (Mahwah, N.J.)
Monica Trickett, Jr., D, Charlotte (Raleigh, N.C.)

Ashleigh Shim, Sr., F, FIU (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Claire Emslie, Jr., M, Florida Atlantic (Penicuik, Scotland)
Olivia M’Bala, R-Sr., D, Florida Atlantic (Toronto, Ontario)
Rachel Holden, So., F, North Texas (Lancaster, Texas)
Holly Hargreaves, Jr., F, Rice (New Hope, Pa.)
Lauren Hughes, Jr., F, Rice (Ottawa, Ontario)
Quinny Truong, Sr., M, Rice (Fort Worth, Texas)
Aleah Davis, R-So., M, UTEP (Hewitt, Texas)
Bubba Makela, So., GK, UTSA (Mukilteo, Wash.)

(as selected by C-USA coaches)
1.       Charlotte
2.       North Texas
3.       Rice
4.       FIU
5.       UTEP
6.       UAB
7.       Marshall
8.       Florida Atlantic
9.       Middle Tennessee
11.    UTSA
12.    Louisiana Tech
13.    Old Dominion
14.    Southern Miss
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