KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the regular season just over one week away, the MIAA released its 2019 Preseason Women's Soccer Coaches Poll Tuesday. The Fort Hays State women's soccer team heads into the new year ranked third in the league, its highest-ever position in the annual preseason poll.

Defending champion Central Oklahoma narrowly took the top spot, picking up seven first-place votes and 117 points in the voting process. Central Missouri grabbed the other five top votes and finished two points shy of the Bronchos with 115. The Tigers received 93 points in the poll, four clear of fourth-place Emporia State. Fort Hays State's previous top ranking in the preseason ranks was fourth, which the Tigers achieved five times, including each of the last four years (2013, 2015-18).

The Tigers finished in a tie for third in the regular season a year ago, the fifth-straight year they have finished fourth or higher in the regular season conference standings. Third-year head coach Blake Reynolds returns 22 players from last year's squad that finished 11-7-2 overall and 8-3-0 in conference play, outscoring fellow MIAA programs 18-10.

Fort Hays State brings back a wealth of experience, returning all but two regular starters from last season, seven All-MIAA performers, one All-Region honoree, nine goal scorers and seven seniors. The Tigers also brought in five talented newcomers for the 2019 season, including four freshmen and one sophomore transfer.

The Tigers open the year with a road trip to Sioux Falls, S.D. for a pair of contests, facing off with Augustana on September 6 before a date with Sioux Falls on September 8. FHSU will make its home debut on Friday, Sept. 13 when the Tigers host CSU-Pueblo at 7 p.m.