Webster University has been picked to finish first in the 2014 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll. The Gorloks are the two-time defending conference champions and received nine first-place votes. The only other team to receive a first-place vote was Principia College.
Webster went a perfect 9-0 in conference play last year, the first time the program went undefeated in conference play since 2006. The Gorloks finished the year with a 19-3 overall record, capturing their second consecutive SLIAC Tournament title and return eight starters from last year's team. Webster, coached by Luigi Scire, received 81 total points in the poll, the highest total in SLIAC preseason poll history. The Gorloks will be a mixture of experience and newcomers. The Gorloks return junior defender Ashley Mess and senior forward Kristin Montgomery, both First Team All-Conference performers last year. In addition they bring back a trio of Second Team All-Conference players in junior forward Lauren Pratt and senior midfielders Lindsey Adshade and Whitney Scott. The Gorloks also return First Team All-Conference goalkeeper, senior Jessica Davis. Webster will add to their depth with a trio of freshmen; Vanessa Carlos, Kayla Dye, and Brianna Pagan, that could see time.
Principia received 68 total points and received the only other first-place vote in the poll. The Panthers were 9-8-2 overall last year and finished tied for third in the SLIAC standings with a 6-2-1 record. Principia, who fell to Webster in the SLIAC Tournament Championship game, brings back eight starters and are coached by Jess Semnacher. The Panthers will have to replace a pair of First Team All-Conference players in Carlie Sanderude and Hayley MacWilliams. Principia will turn to the continued growth of senior Nadine Marczi and junior Gabriela Martin, who each have earned Second Team All-Conference honors in the past. In addition sophomore defender Rachel Perea, who was named honorable mention All-Conference last year, returns as does senior Kenzie Keller. The Panthers bring in a pair of talented newcomers in midfielder Emelie Fredrickson and forward Tanya Marrquardt.
It appears as though there will be a battle for third-place as three teams finished within three points of each other in the poll; Spalding, Greenville, and Fontbonne. Spalding University edged out the other two contenders for third-place with 59 total points. Spalding 8-7-1 overall last season and finished fifth in the conference with a 6-3 record. The Golden Eagles will be led by sophomore forward Dee Dee Sliter. Sliter led her team in scoring as a true freshman with 13 goals and two assists with four game-winning goals. On the other end of the field Spalding returns sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Kaiser. Kaiser was named Third Team All-Conference last year, finishing the season with five shutouts.
Greenville College received 58 total points in the poll after going 7-10-2 overall but managing a 6-1-2 during conference play and finishing second in the standings. The Panthers are coached by Jeff Wardlaw, in his third year, and will have to replace their top three scorers from last year including All-Conference defender Kelsey Panzau.
Fontbonne University was picked fifth in the poll with 55 total points after going 10-6-4 overall and 6-2-1 in the SLIAC. The Griffins, coached by Brian Hoener, bring back their top three scorers and their starting goalie from last year. In net Meggin Werner finished with 74 saves while recording six shutouts last year. The trio of Kayla Thorpe, Savannah Davis, and Paige Pfankuch are back to provide the offense. Thorpe led the team with nine goals and five assists while Pfankuch tied for the team lead with five assists and Davis was second on the team with five goals.
Westminster was 6-12-1 overall last year, finishing with a 4-5 conference record, and received 43 total points in the preseason poll. The Blue Jays should be strong in the net with the return of sophomore Ellen Woolsey who finished with 121 saves, fourth most in the conference last season. Junior Eileen Koppy is back after notching seven goals and one assist last season as is senior Manyima Njie who finished with four goals and two assists last season.
Blackburn received 34 total points in the poll after going 6-11-1 overall last season. In their first year under head coach Tim Gould the Beavers went 1-7-1 during SLIAC action. The Beavers return nine starters including the league's top scorer from one year ago, Alexis Richie. Richie, a senior, netted 17 goals and totaled 37 points last year. Also back are fellow four year starters Allison Guerra, Nique Byots and Emma Witte. The Beavers will have to break in a new goalkeeper after losing Second Team All-Conference player Shayla Sewick. Blackburn brings in a trio of players to compete for time in freshman keeper Nicole Kelly, freshman Meghan Sykora, and junior midfielder Gabriella Rivera Iglesias.
Eureka received 24 total points and went 6-12 overall last year with a 3-6 mark int he SLIAC. The Red Devils will be under the direction of new head coach Dwain Barker who will look to several young players that stood out last year. Junior Faith Williams finished last year with four goals and two assists, tying for the team lead with two game-winning goals. Last year as a true freshman Lydia Zimmerman was third on the team with four goals and will be counted on to continue to her development. Senior Jenna Brooks, who was second on the team with seven goals last year, also returns for the Red Devils.
MacMurray was picked ninth in the poll, receiving 21 total points, after going 5-13 overall and 1-8 in the SLIAC last year. The Highlanders return six starters and 11 players from last year's team and will be guided by new head coach Bill Koeppen. The Highlanders bring back their leading scorer from last year in Tiffany Hazelwonder, who recorded nine goals and five assists. Junior defender Kelli Sells also returns as does juniors Jess Aquire and Ashley Kendrick as well as sophomore Ameelya Kuhl.
Iowa Wesleyan rounds out the preseason poll and finished with seven points. The Tigers went 1-13-1 overall and 0-8-1 in conference play during their first season of competition in the SLIAC. Iowa Wesleyan will be led by first year head coach Jeremy Winzer and return three starters from last year's squad. The Tigers are led by senior forward Savanna Blair, who totaled 10 goals and 21 points last year. Also back are is senior defender Kristine Becks and sophomore midfielder Cecily Herby. Several newcomers including freshman Riley Zielinski and senior Kristin Kramer should see time on the field.
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