By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
SALEM, Ore. -- After putting together a strong run in Northwest Conference play last year, the Willamette University women's soccer team is excited about the start of the 2016 season. The Bearcats will open with a game at Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Oregon, on Thursday, Sept. 1. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. (PDT).
Willamette concluded the 2015 season with a 9-6-1 NWC record, as the team placed thid in the conference standings. The Bearcats were 9-9-2 overall. WU went 3-1-1 in its final five games to reach the .500 mark. Key victories during the year were a 2-0 win at Pacific Lutheran University and a 1-0 win over Whitworth University at Sparks Field.
The Bearcats played in 14 games decided by one goal or ending in a tie. Willamette held 15 of 20 opponents to one goal or less, including nine shutouts.
Head Coach Hillary Arthur enters her ninth season with a quality mix of returning players and newcomers. Key returners include last year's leading scorer, Kelsey Walker (Jr., M/GK, Westerville, OH/Westerville North HS), and the team's starting goalkeeper, Emily Sewall (Sr., GK, Petaluma, CA/Casa Grande HS).
Walker scored five goals for 10 total points. She led Willamette with 43 shots and 22 shots on goal. Four of her goals were game-winners for the Bearcats, including the overtime winner in a 1-0 victory over Lewis & Clark College.
Sewall registered eight shutouts and a solid 0.91 goals against average. She earned 75 saves during the season. Sewall has recorded 18 shutouts in her career while claiming a 1.13 goals against average.
Other top offensive players returning this fall are Marley Duncan (Jr., F, Pukalani, HI/Kamehameha School), Kinsey Keene (Sr., F, Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) and Emmy Manset (Jr., F, Ventura, CA/Foothill Technology HS). Each scored two goals last season, with Duncan and Keene also contributing an assist.
Top returning defenders include Jaclyn Parnell (Sr., D, West Richland, WA/Richland HS), Madelynn Ellis (Sr., D, Lake Oswego, OR/Lake Oswego HS), and Rachel Fischer (So., D, Anchorage, AK/East Anchorage HS), who give the Bearcats significant experience on the back line. Leading the defense from her midfielder position and helping link play to the attack will be Emma Sanders (Sr., M, Kennewick, WA/Southridge HS). Sanders, Fischer and Walker will serve as team captains.
The seven newcomers are Liz Stewart (So., D, Sisters, OR/Sisters HS/Texas Christian University), Kristen Barclay (Fr., GK, Kenmore, WA/Cedar Park Christian School), Annie Strom (Fr., M, Mount Vernon, WA/Mount Vernon HS), Rachael Moulton (Fr., D, Seattle, WA/Shorecrest HS), Shanna Keil (Fr., M, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS), Jenae Arnold (Fr., M, Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS), and Hannah Deighton (Fr., M, Long Beach, CA/Long Beach Polytechnic HS). They will contribute well to the Bearcats on offense and defense.