ELMHURST, Ill. – Denver has been selected as the preseason favorite to defend its Summit League Women's Soccer Championship title in a poll of the nine head coaches.
The Pioneers, ranked No. 25 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Preseason Poll, went a perfect 7-0-0 in league play last season and advanced to its second-straight NCAA Tournament. Midfielder Francesca Garzelloni (7G, 1A) and forward Anna Willis (5G, 5A) are the top-two returning scorers for Denver. The Pioneers also return the league's Goalkeeper of the Year in Cassidy Rey. Rey led the way allowing just one goal for a 0.19 GAA in league contests a year ago. A total of four all-league selections and two all-tournament team honorees return for DU.
South Dakota State was picked second after finishing with a 6-1-0 league mark last season. A pair of all-league performers return for the Jackrabbits in goalie Nicole Inskeep and defender Dani Patterson. Inskeep was second in the league with a 0.57 GAA against league opposition while Patterson led a backline that produced nine shutouts.
Last season's tournament runner-up, North Dakota State was selected third. Three all-league honorees return for the Bison including Freshman of the Year, Lauren Miller. Miller was second in The Summit League with 11 points and five goals in seven league matches. Anisha Kinnarath had 21 points last season (9G, 3A), including eight in league contests, while Sierra Bonham had a 0.84 GAA vs. league opponents.
Oral Roberts, selected fourth, returns to the league for the first time since 2011 and finished with a 15-4-1 record last season. The Golden Eagles' 15 victories set a new program record. Western Illinois was picked fifth and returns leading scorer and second team all-league selection in forward Sarah Hall (5G).
Fort Wayne, picked sixth, welcomes back starting goalkeeper and all-tournament team recipient Sam Pavlika. The Mastodons also return their top-two leading scorers in Gaby Romo (4G, 1A) and Andie Lazzerini (3G, 2A).
The 2014 season kicks-off Aug. 22, with Summit League play beginning Oct. 3. The top four teams in the regular season standings will compete for The Summit League Women's Soccer Championship to be held at CIBER Field in Denver, Nov. 6 & 8. The champion will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament.
ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
In its fourth decade of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at nine institutions, including four located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions along with over 65 All-Americans, 60 Academic All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league and to "See The Summit", visit www.thesummitleague.org, follow on Twitter @thesummitleague, download The Summit League's Front Row app, and watch the weekly "Inside The Summit League" show at www.thesummitleague.org/itsl.
|2014 Summit League Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
Note: Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team
|Place||Team||Points (1st)||2013 Record|
|1.||Denver||64 (8)||18-2-1 (7-0-0)|
|2.||South Dakota State||55 (1)||11-5-2 (6-1-0)|
|3.||North Dakota State||48||9-10-0 (4-3-0)|
|4.||Oral Roberts||42||15-4-1 (N/A)|
|5.||Western Illinois||34||8-9-2 (3-4-0)|
|6.||Fort Wayne||31||6-12-1 (3-3-1)|
|9.||South Dakota||14||6-8-4 (1-5-1)|