Clayton State senior midfielder Alicia Robinson was named to the Peach Belt Conference preseason team by the league coaches. (Special Photo)
MORROW — The soccer season hasn’t started yet, but Clayton State player Alicia Robinson is receiving preseason accolades from the conference.
A senior midfielder, Robinson was named to the preseason All-Peach Belt Conference squad, which was released earlier this week. She was an NCAA Div. II All-Southeast Region and all-conference player last season for the Lakers.
She played a big role in leading the team to a 10-win season last year. As a junior, she finished with three goals and two assists.
“We are pleased that Alicia (Robinson) has been recognized as a Preseason All-Conference player,” Clayton State head coach Gareth O’Sullivan said. “For me she is one of the top midfielders in NCAA Division II.”
Last season, she played in 17 of the team’s 19 matches with 16 starts as the Lakers compiled a 10-7-2 record. Season highlights include scoring a game-winning goal against Queens College. She also scored a goal against then-No. 11 Columbus State. Her other goal came against conference opponent North Georgia in a 4-2 loss in the conference tournament quarterfinals in Dahlonega.
Prior to signing with Clayton State, Robinson starred at Hutchinson Community College, helping the team to a 17-3 record in 2011, which included being ranked No. 3 in the nation. In her final season, the England native led the nation with 27 assists during the 2011 season.
She finished her career at Hutchinson with 24 goals and 42 assists.
Clayton State will open its exhibition season on Saturday as it travels to face NCAA Division I and metro Atlanta opponent Kennesaw State at 7 p.m. The Lakers open the regular season on Sept. 5, hosting Wingate in a 6 p.m. match.
HIGH EXPECTIONS FOR WOMEN CROSS COUNTRY
Coming off its first conference championship last season, the Clayton State women’s cross country team has been picked to finish second this season in a preseason poll of league coaches.
In one of the closest votes in PBC history, rival Columbus State edged Clayton State by just two points (100-98) for the top spot. Both the Lakers and the Cougars received four first-place votes in the poll of 12 coaches.
Clayton State and Columbus State finished first and second last year in both the PBC Championships and the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Championships. The Lakers won the conference meet and placed second at regionals, while the Cougars placed second at the PBC race and won the regional meet.
Behind Clayton State, Montevallo was third in the voting with UNC Pembroke in fourth. A tie between Flagler and GRU Augusta rounded out the top-5.
The Lakers have a wealth of talent returning for the 2013 season, as the squad returns six of its top seven runners from last year, including a trio of runners who were named to the 2012 NCAA Division II All-Southeast Region team in senior Samantha Walling and juniors Jessica Smith and Racquel Valadez. Walling and Valadez were also All-Peach Belt runners in 2012 and Smith made the All-Conference team in 2011.
Clayton State will open its season on Saturday, September 7, competing in the GSW Remembrance Run, hosted by Georgia Southwestern in Americus. The Lakers will also defend their PBC crown at Georgia Southwestern, as the Hurricanes will host the PBC Championships for the first time in school history on Oct. 26.
MEN CROSS COUNTRY PICKED THIRD
The Clayton State men’s cross country team is gearing up for its 19th season, and a poll released by the conference coaches predict the Lakers will finish third this season.
Battling a rash of injuries last season, Clayton State placed fifth in the PBC Championship last year, but the squad returns its top three runners from last year, including two-time All-Peach Belt senior Charles “Scooter” Anderson, All-Southeast Region senior Ciaran Lane and sophomore Job Kemboi, who was named All-Conference and All-Region last year as a freshman.
Defending champion Columbus State was picked to win the Peach Belt Conference title in 2013, followed by Georgia Regents University Augusta second in the poll of the league’s 10 head coaches. Behind Clayton State, Flagler and UNC Pembroke rounded out the top-5, respectively.