By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- In the 2019 NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll, the Willamette University Bearcats are picked to finish fourth in the standings. Votes in the poll were received from the NWC head coaches, who could not vote for their own team. Willamette will seek an even higher finish after concluding last season with a 12-4-4 overall record. The Bearcats were 8-4-4 in the NWC a year ago, as they earned fourth place. Two of Willamette's losses in NWC play were by a single goal.
Defending co-champion Pacific Lutheran University was selected to repeat in this year's Preseason Poll with 63 points and seven first place votes. The Lutes were 13-3-4 overall and 12-2-2 in the NWC in 2018, as they tied with University of Puget Sound, also 12-2-2, for the NWC title.
The Lutes return two First Team All-NWC players in defender Brianna Hunting and midfielder Leah Magee. Another key returning player for PLU is Ellie Johnson, who tied for fourth in the NWC last year with seven goals and was named Honorable Mention All-NWC.
Whitworth University earned second place in this year's poll with 53 points and two first place votes to narrowly edge out Puget Sound, which received 52 points and placed third in the poll. The Pirates were 12-5-3 overall last season, including 10-4-2 in the NWC. Puget Sound went 13-6-2 overall.
Midfielder Jayden Baumgartner and defender Courtney Harm,on each received Honorable Mention All-NWC recognition for the Pirates last season. Meanwhile, the NWC's top scorer returns for Puget Sound. Gabbie Berg tallied 10 goals and 24 points in 2018. Also returning for the Loggers is defender Kylee Roath, who was chosen NWC Freshman of the Year last fall.
Willamette was fourth in the poll with 43 points, while Linfield College placed fifth with 35 points, and George Fox University was sixth with 30 points. Linfield was 10-5-5 on the season, 7-4-5 in the NWC, last year. George Fox ended the year at 7-9-2, including 5-9-2 in the NWC.
Seventh place in the poll was held by Whitman College with 21 points. The Blues went 4-14-2 overall and 4-11-1 in the NWC last fall. Completing the poll were Lewis & Clark College (4-14-2, 2-13-1 NWC) in eight place with 18 points and Pacific University (2-17-1, 2-13-1 NWC) in ninth place with 9 points.
The Bearcats return their top 10 scorers from 2018. Leading the way is Shanna Keil (Sr., F, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS), who ranked first on the team and third in the conference with 20 total points. Keil scored seven goals and provided six assists. She earned Second Team All-West Region honors to go along with First Team All-NWC recognition. Including two goals this year, Keil has scored 18 goals and 12 assists (48 points) in 62 career games played and 48 starts.
Gena Main (Sr., F, San Francisco, CA/Gateway HS/Bryn Mawr College) led Willamette and tied for second in the NWC with eight goals scored. She also produced one assist for 17 total points. Jenae Arnold (Sr., M, Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS) registered two goals and two assists in 2018. She has seen action in 62 of 63 games in her WU career.
On defense, key returning players are Hannah Deighton (Sr., D, Long Beach, CA/Long Beach Polytechnic HS), Annie Strom (Sr., D, Mount Vernon, WA/Mount Vernon HS), and Kristen Barclay (Sr., GK, Kenmore, WA/Cedar Park Christian School). Deighton has played in 55 games during her career. She scored two goals last fall and has three goals in her career. Strom participated in 17 games last season and has competed in 55 games in her career.
Barclay was 12-3-4 in goal last season with a 0.86 goals against average and 69 saves. In her career she has played in 57 games with a 29-13-9 record, a 0.85 goals against average, and a .819 save percentage.
Up next for Willamette is Trinity University (Texas) in a neutral-site game at University of Puget Sound on Sunday, Sept. 15. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. (PDT). The Bearcats will open NWC play on Saturday, Sept. 21 when they host archrival Linfield College in a 12 p.m. game at Sparks Field.
2019 NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Pacific Lutheran (7), 63 points, 13-3-4 overall, 12-2-2 in NWC in 2018
2. Whitworth (2), 53 points, 12-5-3 overall, 10-4-2 in NWC
3. Puget Sound, 52 points, 13-6-2 overall, 12-2-2 in NWC
4. Willamette, 43 points, 12-4-4 overall, 8-4-4 in NWC
5. Linfield, 35 points, 10-5-5 overall, 7-4-5 in NWC
6. George Fox, 30 points, 7-9-2 overall, 5-9-2 in NWC
7. Whitman, 21 points, 4-14-2 overall, 4-11-1 in NWC
8. Lewis & Clark, 18 points, 4-14-2 overall, 2-13-1 in NWC
9. Pacific, 7 points, 2-17-1 overall, 2-13-1 in NWC
Note: Points were awarded on an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches could not vote for their own team.