GVSU Favored in 2017 GLIAC Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
The 12-time defending league champion Grand Valley State Lakers are once again the favorites (81 points, 9 first-place votes) heading into the 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) soccer season following the release of the 2017 GLIAC Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll. GVSU will have to make up for losing four of its top five scorers with the group led by senior Gabriella Mencotti who was the Division II leader in goals (29) and total points (71) last season.
The Ashland Eagles, slated No. 2 in preseason balloting with 73 points and one first-place vote, will look to junior forward Deijah Swihart and senior forward Morgan Bittengle to chase down GVSU for the top spot in 2017. The Eagles allowed just 16 goals in 17 games last season and welcome back senior goalkeeper Courtney Barker and senior defenders Bridget McEldowney and Julie Lacock to bolster the back line.
Michigan Tech rings in at No. 3 (62 points) coming off a GLIAC Tournament Championship game run last season consisting of 12 victories. Senior goalkeeper Kirsen Hudak returns alongside senior defender Taylor Archibald and junior defender Rachel Wall. The Huskies will play off their defense who recorded 10 shutouts in 2016 to accompany a group of youngsters who will see nine home matches this season.
Ferris State (No. 4, 50 points) returns a large bulk of the Bulldog roster this year in hopes of adding some offense to their dominant defense. Senior midfielder Rachel Fouts along with goalkeeper Grace Kraft and junior Carley Dubbert fuel the FSU lineup. The Saginaw Valley State women's soccer program looks to rebounds from a 10-7-1 season with many young returners, including sohomores Sakura Bals and Molly Vanderhoff to help the offensive attack.
Newcomers Davenport and Northern Michigan enter the 2017 campaign tied for sixth (38 points) in the preseason rankings. The DU Panthers bring a veteran and successful group to Division II after compiling an 18-2-1 mark one year ago where they went unbeaten through their first 17 games. NMU looks to establish a new foundation and build a culture with first-year head coach Sonia Basma arriving in Marquette. Basma will look to Abby Cook and Raven Mitchell to lead the way on the offensive end.
A difficult challenge is ahead for Dean Pappas' Northwood (No. 8, 34 points) group who will have to replace a senior laden squad from one year ago but will have its leading scorer back in Alyssa Cowper who started every match. Tiffin (No. 9, 16 points) and Purdue Northwest (No. 10, 10 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 31st with GLIAC matches getting underway Friday, September 15th. The 2017 GLIAC Women's Soccer Tournament will consist of eight teams with quarterfinal battles taking place Tuesday, October 31st at campus sites, while the semifinal and championship rounds will be hosted by the highest remaining seed on November 3rd & 5th.