PORTLAND, Ore. – After reclaiming the regular season title in 2018, Western Washington enters the season atop the 2019 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Preseason Women’s Soccer Coaches Poll.

The Vikings received all nine first-place votes for a total of 81 points. The Vikings also enter the season ranked No. 11 in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division II Women’s Preseason Poll.

Seattle Pacific, which tied for third last season, is second with 66 points and just edging out Concordia (65 pts.), the winner of last year’s GNAC Championships. Concordia also enters its 2019 campaign ranked No. 22 nationally.

Trying to find its way back to the GNAC Championships, Simon Fraser finds itself in fourth place with 47 pts. Following closely behind is Central Washington (46 pts.), which lost six starters from last season. Rounding out the poll is Northwest Nazarene (36 pts.), Western Oregon (28 pts.), Montana State Billings (21 pts.) and Saint Martin’s (15 pts.).

Western Washington went 18-3-2 (10-1-1 GNAC) in 2018. Head coach Travis Connell’s Vikings won their sixth conference title in seven years. Although Western Washington lost to Concordia in the GNAC Championships, the Vikings bounced back to defeat the Cavaliers in the NCAA West Region Semifinals. The Vikings would then fall to UC San Diego in the NCAA West Region Final.

Western Washington returns 19 letterwinners and nine starters from last season. Transfer goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx recorded 73 saves, eight shutouts and a 0.53 GAA in 2018. Dierickx earned First Team All-GNAC and GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors as a sophomore.

Eight Vikings earned All-GNAC honors in 2018, including five first-team selections, one second-team selection and two honorable mention selections. Six of those players return this season. Returning is Grace Eversaul. The junior midfielder scored four goals last season and received First Team All-GNAC and Second Team All-West Region honors.

The Vikings also await the return of Karli White, who was injured in 2018. White was the 2017 GNAC Newcomer of the Year and GNAC Championships MVP.

Seattle Pacific will enter its 2019 campaign without Julia DeVere, a 2018 Second Team D2CCA All-American and last year’s GNAC Defensive Player of the Year. Returning, however, are Sophia Chilczuk and Megan Moore. Chilczuk, a junior forward, scored eight goals and added three assists during her First Team All-GNAC season. Moore scored three goals and distributed six assists in 2018. The senior earned Second Team All-GNAC last season.

The Falcons also return sophomore goalkeeper Riley Travis. Travis recorded 75 saves, five shutouts and a 1.08 GAA, and earned Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2018.

Despite winning the 2018 GNAC Championships, Concordia enters the 2019 season at third in the preseason poll. The Cavaliers return 17 letterwinners and five starters. Head coach Grant Landy will need to find replacements for six lost starters, including midfielders Gabrielle Ewing and Kasey Ames. Both were named First Team All-GNAC in 2018.

Returning for the Cavaliers is Kyra Radcliffe, a Second Team All-GNAC selection. Radcliffe scored seven goals and distributed eight assists last season. Also returning is senior forward Quinn Williams, an Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection in 2018 who scored four goals as a junior.

Fresh off an appearance in last year’s GNAC Championships, Simon Fraser returns six starters. Making it back to the GNAC Championships will be no easy task without Jenna-Lee Baxter, the 2018 GNAC Player of the Year.

The Clan allowed the third fewest goals in conference play last season and will be looking to rally around a strong returning defensive core while integrating nine incoming freshmen into the program.

Emma Pringle was a standout player for the Clan in 2018. Pringle scored 11 goals last season on her way to being named to the First Team All-GNAC and First Team All-West Region teams.

Central Washington finished in last place in 2017 but made the climb to fifth place in 2018. Michael Farrand’s Wildcats find themselves right in the middle of the pack.

Of the five returning starters for the Wildcats, defender Alyssa Barden is the lone senior. The emergence of key underclassmen like Makinzie Packwood and Sydney Lowe could help the Wildcats climb the conference standings yet again.

Northwest Nazarene finished tied for third place in 2017, but after going 4-8-0 in conference play last season, the Nighthawks find themselves picked sixth in the preseason poll.

Eight starters return for the Nighthawks in 2019. Junior forward Rikki Myers scored six goals in 2018 and earned Second Team All-GNAC honors. She will lead the charge on offense.

Kacey Bingham enters her first season as head coach at Western Oregon. With all but one starter returning for the Wolves’ 2019 campaign, Bingham will try to turn things around for a team that finished in seventh place last season.

Second Team All-GNAC defender Jacky Beristain will anchor the Western Oregon defense along with goalkeeper Alex Qualls, who recorded 72 saves, five wins and five shutouts in 2018.

Montana State Billings finished with a 4-12-1 (1-11-0 GNAC) record in 2018 and was voted eighth in the preseason poll. The Yellowjackets do, however, return nine starters. Claire Tevaseu and Amanda Hemmen will lead a group of six seniors that return from last year’s starting lineup.

Wrapping up the preseason poll is Saint Martin’s. The Saints won just one conference match last season, but returning is a core that includes senior defender Rose Robbins and junior midfielder Kiersten Madsen.

Six GNAC teams will begin their regular seasons on Sept. 5 against non-conference foes. Conference play is scheduled to kick off on Sept. 26.

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