The Webster University women's soccer team has been picked to add to their conference title collection and are the coaches preseason favorites for the sixth consecutive season. Webster received 80 total points, picking up eight first-place votes in the poll. Coming off a second straight NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament appearance the Gorloks return six starters from a squad that went 19-2 overall and completed an undefeated conference season. Head Coach Luigi Scire can rely on proven players such as Lilly Brauer, Melissa Kasper, and Carolyn Ries in the field. Brauer has started 40 games along the backline in her two years at Webster, helping the Gorloks to 17 shutouts over that span. Kasper, a junior, and Ries, a senior, both earned First Team All-Conference honors last season. The Gorloks also bring back Alisa Coralic in net, a junior, that finished with a .714 save percentage in 14 games last year. Despite the returning the players the Gorloks must overcome some change with the departure of former Defensive Player of the Year, Elena Bloma as well as midfielders Lauren Nuelle and Brianna Pagan. The Gorloks will work in 10 newcomers to their team.
Greenville University was picked 2nd with 67 points, receiving one first-place vote. Head Coach Jeff Wardlaw is hoping that his young team can take another step this season after finishing 13-7 overall and qualifying for the conference tournament last season. The Panthers return their top four scorers from last season, headed up by 2017 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year Kate Arthur. Arthur, a sophomore, tallied 14 goals and 12 assists last season while earning All-Conference honors. Also back are Dani Pearce (13 goals), Jade Taylor (16 goals), and Bre Thomas (16 assists). Greenville has no concerns with their returning offensive production but will need to replace their defensive anchor in Tymber Gabbert and find a new solution in net with the departure of Hope Brakenhoff.
Third in the poll is Fontbonne University with 64 points, accounting for the final first-place vote from the coaches. The Griffins were 11-10 overall last season and advanced to their second straight SLIAC Championship game. Head Coach Brian Hoener returns 15 players from last year's team but just four starters. Among the key losses is a trio of All-Conference players in Maddie Redohl, Ellen Weaver, and Meredith Wendt. With the loss of prominent offensive players, the Griffins will rely on their defense and experienced netminders to propel them this season. Mary Beers, a sophomore, and Makayla Hussong, a junior, split time in net last year and return to hold down the position once again after combining for 88 saves. Senior defender Dani Caruso started all 20 games last season, finishing with one goal and four assists, and will be counted on to lead the defense. Senior Maddie Tague is also back after putting up one goal and three assists last season.
Westminster College was chosen 4th in the poll with 57 points. New head coach Wendy Sanchez joins a team that finished 10-7 overall and 7-2 in conference play last season. The Blue Jays will need to replace their leading scorer (Paige Townsend) and are hoping that Gracie Koonce and Natalie Schulte can offset that loss. Koonce was second on the team last year with 13 goals and 7 assists while Schulte added 6 goals and 6 assists. Aliana Allsbury and Madison Ekern both started all 17 games for Westminster and will play key roles on the team once again in 2018. Sarah Cradick made 50 saves in net for the Blue Jays last season and comes in as the top option. Among the newcomers expected to contribute is freshman forward Kate Ponder.
Spalding University came in 5th in the poll with 55 points. After making back-to-back conference tournaments the Golden Eagles missed out last season, going 5-4 in conference play and 8-8 overall. Shilo Rayburn returns eight starters and will be looking on continued growth from his experienced team. Juniors Kelsie Huffman (16 total points) and Abby McGimsey (6 goals) will lead the Golden Eagles attack. Seniors Ali Bumbless (Third Team All-Conference) and Alnee Tutson (First Team All-Conference) figures to be one of the better defensive pairings in the league. Spalding also returns goalie Ashlee Wilson, a sophomore, who finished with 28 saves in over 600 minutes of action as a true freshman last season.
Appearing 6th on the poll is Principia College with 42 points. Coach Meagan Fleming returns 10 players, including five starters, from last year's team that finished 5-13 overall. Madison Arens, a senior, earned Second Team All-Conference honors last season after recording two goals and two assists. Sophomore Hannah Sipe will be looked on to add to the scoring punch for the Panthers after the losses of Clarice Bruch and Emelie Fredrikson.
Blackburn College received 32 points for 7th place in the poll. The Beavers went 4-13-1 overall last season with head coach Sohaila Akhavein returning six starters and 10 players. Among the top returners is sophomore defender Bailey Lentz, who started all 18 games last season, and senior midfielder Jasmine Tillman, who was second on the team last year with three goals and eight points. An incoming class that consists of a pair of goalkeepers in Anicca Macky-Slavin and Morgan Zobrist as well as sophomore defender Morgan Adams will get plenty of looks to help the team.
MacMurray College was 8th on the poll with 26 points. Head Coach Gabe Attanasio lost just two players due to graduation from last year's team although one of those was leading scorer Lyndi Saccaro, who scored more than half the team's goals last year. Both captains return from last season and among the five starters coming back are Erin Detter (7 points), Margaret Doss (3 assists), and Emily Kolo (5 goals). Newcomers Emma Harris, a goalie, and Kaylee McClanahan, a midfielder, should see action on the field for the Highlanders.
Iowa Wesleyan University was picked 9th with 18 total points. Head Coach Chris Early continues to build the program as he begins his second season at the helm.
Eureka College finished 10th in the poll with nine points. Head Coach Dwain Barker returns six starters which include defenders Mecayela Monroe and Tabitha Price, who each started every game they played last year.
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