Whitworth Picked by NWC Coaches to Repeat as Champions; Bearcats Picked to Finish Fifth

SPOKANE, Wash. — Led by the returning Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Whitworth College is a strong favorite to repeat as NWC Men's Soccer champions this season, according to a preseason poll of conference coaches. The Pirates claimed five first place votes and 66 total points. Three other teams each picked up a single first place vote.

Junior forward Niko Varlamos, the returning Offensive Player of the Year in the NWC, and senior back Todd Sabrowski, the 2004 NWC Defensive MVP, will lead Whitworth in 2005. The Pirates, who finished 16-3-1 overall and 12-1-1 (37 points) in the NWC, return a total of nine starters from last season.

The University of Puget Sound finished second in the poll with 54 points and one first place vote. The Loggers were runners up to Whitworth with an overall record of 13-3-3 and an NWC mark of 10-3-1. UPS will be led by All-NWC seniors Jim Fioretti (D) and Josh Hedrick (F).

Linfield College, which finished 10-9-1 overall (8-5-1 NWC) last season after winning the title in 2003, have a pair of First Team All-NWC players back in defender Paul Collins and midfielder Kevin Popich. The Wildcats are third in the poll with one first place vote and 46 total points.

Only two points behind Linfield in the preseason poll, Pacific Lutheran University picked up the final first place vote. The Lutes return All-NWC forward Kevin Murray from last season after finishing 7-12-1 overall and 6-7-1 in the NWC in 2004.

Willamette University finished fifth in the poll with 31 points. The Bearcats (6-11-2 overall, 6-8 NWC in 2004) do not return a player from last season's All-NWC team. But a talented crew of young returning players and a solid recruiting year should make the Bearcats more competitive than a season ago, according to second year head coach Jeff Enquist.

PacificUniversityis sixth in the poll with 25 points after finishing sixth in 2004's final NWC standings (7-11 overall, 5-9 NWC). All-NWC forward Mark Madeira returns to lead the Boxers.

GeorgeFox University (16 points) edged Whitman College (14 points) for seventh place in the poll. The Bruins also edged the Missionaries in last season's final standings. GFU finished 5-12-2 overall and 4-9-1 in the NWC, including a victory over NWC champion Whitworth. Whitman was 4-13-1 and 2-11-1.

The season gets underway on September 1st.

NWC Men's Soccer Coaches’ Pre-Season Poll:

2004 records

School (1st) Pts. All NWC

1. Whitworth (Wash.) (5) 66 16-3-1 12-1-1
2. Puget Sound (Wash.) (1) 54 13-3-3 10-3-1
3. Linfield (Ore.) (1) 46 10-9-1 8-5-1
4. Pacific Lutheran (Wash.) (1) 44 7-12-1 6-7-1
5. Willamette (Ore.) 31 6-11-2 6-8
6. Pacific (Ore.) 25 7-11 5-9
7. George Fox (Ore.) 16 5-12-1 4-9-1
8. Whitman (Wash.) 14 4-13-1 2-11-1

(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis)