The Bulldogs won their first-ever SoCon regular-season and tournament titles in 2011, their fourth season in the league. Samford went 9-0-2 in SoCon play and earned the conference's automatic NCAA bid with a 1-0 win over College of Charleston in the SoCon Championship title game.
Reigning SoCon Coach of the Year Todd Yelton's squad picked up 10 first-place votes and 120 total points to finish atop the preseason poll. Samford put two players on the 11-member preseason all-conference team in midfielder Michelle Moll and defender Sabbath McKiernan-Allen.
College of Charleston, which tied for second in the league standings in addition to its runner-up finish in the tournament last season, picked up one first-place vote and 106 points to nab the second spot in the preseason poll. The Cougars' Sarah Schaidle was a preseason all-conference pick at midfield.
Furman picked up the remaining first-place vote and had 97 points to finish third in the poll. The Paladins also had two players selected to the preseason all-conference team, with forward Martha Hall, the 2008 SoCon Freshman of the Year, and defender Ali Simpson earning the distinction.
The Citadel matched Samford and Furman with two selections of its own, as forward Vanessa Aponte and midfielder Mariana Garcia, the 2010 SoCon Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, represented the Bulldogs.
UNCG (88 points) was fourth in the balloting, followed by Davidson (80) in fifth with Elon (77), Georgia Southern (53), Western Carolina (50), The Citadel (44), Appalachian State (37), Wofford (28) and Chattanooga (12) rounding out the poll.
Davidson's Becca Fisher, the 2011 SoCon Freshman of the Year, took one of the remaining two forward spots on the preseason All-SoCon team, while Chattanooga's Becca Smith grabbed the other. UNCG's Cat Barnekow returns for her redshirt senior season and was selected for the defense, while Elon's Kate Murphy got the nod at goalkeeper after an impressive rookie campaign.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team or players in the balloting.
The 2012 regular season begins on Friday, Aug. 17, with nine of the conference's 12 teams in action. The 2012 SoCon Women's Soccer Championship will feature the top eight teams in the final regular-season standings with the final four facing off in Birmingham, Ala., on Nov. 2 and 4.
2012 Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Samford (10) 120
2. College of Charleston (1) 106
3. Furman (1) 97
4. UNCG 88
5. Davidson 80
6. Elon 77
7. Georgia Southern 53
8. Western Carolina 50
9. The Citadel 44
10. Appalachian State 37
11. Wofford 28
12. Chattanooga 12
() denotes first-place votes
2012 Women's Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team
F Vanessa Aponte, The Citadel
F Becca Fisher, Davidson
F Martha Hall, Furman
F Becca Smith, Chattanooga
MF Sarah Schaidle, College of Charleston
MF Mariana Garcia, The Citadel
MF Michelle Moll, Samford
D Ali Simpson, Furman
D Cat Barnekow, UNCG
D Sabbath McKiernan-Allen, Samford
GK Kate Murphy, Elon