ST. LOUIS-The Principia College women's soccer team has once again been chosen by the league coaches to rank number one in this year's St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) standings. Principia came out on top of the Pre-Season Coaches' Poll with 61 points and six first place votes.
Principia ended the 2011 season with an overall record of 16-4-1, undefeated in the Conference, won the Conference Tournament, and made it to the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers are on their second year under the guidance of the 2011 SLIAC Coach of the Year, Jess Semnacher, while also having three returning All-Conference players. Last season's First Team All-SLIAC honoree Rachel Publicover returns as this year's player to stop on offense. Publicover, a senior, ended last season with 11 goals and 7 assists. Right behind Publicover is Hayley MacWilliams in the midfield. MacWilliams is a Third Team All-SLIAC honoree and ended the 2011 season with five goals and three assists. The Second Team All-SLIAC honoree, Christina Post, returns in the backfield for Principia.
Webster University was chosen to finish second overall with 56 points and two first place votes in the Pre-Season Coaches' Poll. The Gorloks finished last season second in the conference, with a record of 7-1. The three returning junior captains bring much skill and competition to the table. Ally Nikolaus and Katie Aubuchon were both last seasons' First Team All-SLIAC honorees. Nikolaus was also a NSCAA All-Region pick. Heading up the backfield will be junior captain Kristen Muehlenfeld. Muehlenfeld is a two-time Academic All-Conference honoree. The Gorloks also have two strong newcomers for this coming season. Fredericka Brandt, a transfer from Sierra College in California, is going to be joining the midfield with Nikolaus and Aubuchon. Brandt was selected to the All-Conference team in 2011. Coming in as a freshman, the Gorloks have Ashley Mess to help in the backfield. Mess was a four-year starter at Northwest High School, and was an All-Conference selection.
Greenville College picked up the remaining first place vote, finishing third in the Pre-Season Coaches' Poll with 50 points. The Panthers completed last season in third place, with a record of 6-2. The Panthers return last season's First Team All-SLIAC honoree Kelsey Panzau and Third Team All-SLIAC honoree Natalie Henneberry. The Panthers also have two transfers, Chelsea Kirkley and Emily Wright, stepping into the backfield to help the team.
Fontbonne University came in fourth, close behind Greenville, with 48 points. The Griffins finished the 2011 season with a 5-3 record in the conference. The Griffins will come out strong this year, with three returning seniors, all of whom were All-SLIAC honorees. Kaniz Abbas, the First Team All-SLIAC honoree, returns as the anchor after having 111 saves last year. Kim Carter returns after finishing third in scoring for the Griffins last season. Carter was named an Honorable Mention All-SLIAC honoree. Julia Conroy is returning in the backfield, after being selected as a First Team All-SLIAC honoree. Fontbonne also has two strong transfers this year, expecting to help the team. Kelly Lange, a Division II transfer, is expected to solidify the Griffins midfield. Erica Kaiping, a JUCO transfer, is expected to help Carter on offense.
Blackburn College, Westminster College (Mo.), Spalding University, MacMurray College and Eureka College round out the final five spots of the Pre-Season Poll. Blackburn came in fifth in the Pre-Season Coaches' Poll, with 39 points. The Beavers finished the 2011 season with a record of 3-5. Westminster fell shortly behind Blackburn with 36 points, ending the Blue Jays in sixth spot. The Blue Jays have a great returning group of girls, including Cassie Rossman. Rossman (Sr.) has played with Westminster since her Freshman year, and finished last season with 57 saves. Spalding comes seventh in the poll, with three returning players, Kelsey Traughber, Kaleigh Hockenbury, and Monica Ross, to lead the way. The Golden Eagles also have Maddie Tonini, a commit to D I Auburn, coming into the backfield after suffering an injury. MacMurray was chosen eighth in the Pre-Season Poll. The Highlanders have two returning Team Captains, Lindsay Miller and Alexis Apodaca-Fresquez. Eureka was chosen ninth in the Pre-Season Poll.
2012 SLIAC Women's Soccer
Pre-Season Coaches' Poll
1 - Principia (5)
2 - Webster (2)
3 - Greenville (1)
4 - Fontbonne
5 - Blackburn
6 - Westminster
7 - Spalding
8 - MacMurray
9 - Eureka