The Big South Conference has announced that Radford University’s Gabi Paupst had been picked as the Big South’s Soccer Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Highlander Kayla Thomas was the pick for the league’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Year.
In the league’s 2021 preseason poll, the RU women’s soccer team was picked to finish second while the Highlander men were picked to finish eighth in the league standings.
The Radford men begin their season today, Feb. 17, with a game at Liberty University. The Highlanders’ first conference match is February 21 at USC Upstate. The men’s conference championship tournament will be played April 14 through April 17.
The Radford women begin their Big South play on Sunday, Feb. 21, at Presbyterian. The women’s conference championship tournament runs from April 12 through April 18.
Defending conference champion Campbell was picked as the men’s preseason favorite.
2021 Big South preseason men’s soccer poll:
- Campbell 2. High Point 3. Gardner-Webb 4. Presbyterian 5. USC Upstate 6. Longwood 7. Winthrop 8. Radford 9. UNC-Asheville
For the second time in as many seasons, the Radford women were picked to finish among the league’s top two teams. The back-to-back Big South Tournament champs won the regular season most recently in 2018.
The selection of Paupst and Thomas as the women’s preseason players of the year marks the first time in school history Radford has swept the preseason awards. It was only the second time in Big South history that teammates were named Preseason Players of the Year in the same season (Liberty – 2016).
Paupst scored nine goals last season, a career high, and has 18 in her three-year career. The Grimsby, Ontario, Canada native was a First-Team All-Conference member and made the Big South All-Tournament Team last season. A senior, she finished in the top 10 in seven of the league’s nine individual offensive categories in 2019.
Thomas has been a First-Team All-Conference member both of her two seasons at Radford. The junior was named Big South Defensive Player of the Year last season. She was also a member of the Big South All- Tournament Team. She has started 42 games at Radford and led the team in minutes played both seasons.
2021 Big South preseason women’s soccer poll:
- High Point 2. Radford 3. Campbell 4. Gardner-Webb 5. Longwood 6. Winthrop 7. Presbyterian 8. Charleston Southern 9. UNC Asheville 10. USC Upstate