The Howard Payne Lady Jackets are expected to finish eighth in the American Southwest Conference women's soccer standings, based on the preseason poll released Wednesday afternoon.
The top eight teams advance to the postseason, and the Lady Jackets (5-9-1, 4-8) received 123 points in the poll — a comfortable margin over ninth-place Ozarks (7-9-1, 3-8-1), which received 97 points.
Also, Lady Jacket sophomore forward Lesly Garcia and senior midfielder Brooke Gibbs were named to the ASC Players to Watch list.
Hardin-Simmons (23-1, 12-0) is the conference favorite with 25 first-place votes and 311 points, trailed by Mary Hardin-Baylor (16-4-1, 10-1-1) with 218 points and one first-place vote, UT-Dallas (16-4, 10-2) with 258 points, East Texas Baptist (13-5-2, 8-3-1) with 225 points, Sul Ross (8-7-1, 6-5-1) with 185 points, LeTourneau (9-7-3, 5-5-2) with 160 points, and Concordia (10-8, 6-6) with 150 points.
Rounding out the projections are 10th-place McMurry (4-14, 1-11) with 96 points, 11th-place Belhaven (2-14-1, 1-11) with 57 points and 12th-place Louisiana College (2-13-2, 1-11) with 57 points.
UT-Tyler is reclassifying to Division II and ineligible for postseason play, and games against the Lady Patriots will not count in the standings.
Following home exhibition matches against Ranger (Aug. 25) and Texas Wesleyan (Aug. 28), the Lady Jackets open the regular season against Huston-Tillotson in Round Rock on Sept. 1. HPU's home opener against Wayland Baptist falls on Sept. 4, while the ASC opener against Ozarks will take place Sept. 15 in Brownwood.