GVSU Favored in 2018 GLIAC Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
The 13-time defending league champion Grand Valley State Lakers are once again the favorites (81 points, 9 first-place votes) heading into the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) soccer season following the release of the 2018 GLIAC Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll. GVSU will have to replace two-time National Player of the Year Gabriella Mencotti who was the Division II leader in goals and points in each of her final two seasons. The Lakers welcome back midfielder Tara Lierman and GLIAC Freshman of the Year Ava Cook who scored 13 each last season.
The Ashland Eagles, slated No. 2 in preseason balloting with 70 points, will look to junior forward Deijah Swihart to replace the now graduated Morgan Bittengle to chase down GVSU for the top spot in 2018. Swihart posted 18 goals for the Eagles in her first two seasons before missing last year with an injury. All-region standout center back Sydney Wright also returns to help guide the defense for interim head coach Taylor Clarke's program.
Ferris State chimes in at No. 3 (68 points, 1 first-place vote) as the Bulldogs will put an experienced squad on the pitch with 28 of the 35 roster members returning for a run at the title this season. Sophomore forward Bri Rogers and junior goalkeeper Grace Kraft are back for Andy McCaslin's team who hopes to break through to the NCAA Tournament after a narrow miss last year.
Saginaw Valley (No. 4, 54 points) looks to build upon the late successes of the 2017 season, when the Cardinals advanced to the GLIAC Tournament Championship Match. SVSU will rely on a strong foundation of returners highlighted by all-region performer junior Molly Vanderhoff who will lead the Michael O'Neill orchestrated offense along with her classmate Valentina Giambanco.
Davenport (No. 5, 42 points) has its eyes set on making a splash in the Panthers second season in the conference following a 4-4-1 GLIAC record last season, which included four overtime contests. DU lost two key defenders from last season, but bring back the majority of the offensive contributors in addition to a couple of redshirts. Head coach Michelle Jacob's Michigan Tech (No. 6, 38 points) program looks to sophomore Brooke Schauer to pace the offense, while senior Rachel Wall anchors the defensive unit.
Northern Michigan and GLIAC newcomer Wisconsin-Parkside enter the 2018 campaign tied for seventh (34 points) in the preseason rankings. The NMU Wildcats hope to have added some offensive weapons while relying on upperclassmen and experience on the defensive end. Wisconsin-Parkside enters the conference anticipating a strong campaign as the Rangers return five seniors and their leading scorer from 2017 in Maycee Kroening.
Northwood (No. 9, 20 points) and Purdue Northwest (No. 10, 9 points) round out the rankings as both programs will have their eyes on taking down the favorites.
The new season will kick-off on Thursday, August 30th with GLIAC matches getting underway Friday, September 21st. The 2018 GLIAC Women's Soccer Tournament will consist of eight teams with quarterfinal battles taking place Tuesday, October 30th at campus sites, while the semifinal and championship rounds will be hosted by the highest remaining seed on November 2nd & 4th.