Willamette Chosen Second in NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University has been picked to finish second in the Northwest Conference women’s soccer standings, according to the NWC Preseason Poll for 2007. The University of Puget Sound was chosen to win its sixth consecutive NWC title. The Loggers won last year’s title with just one point more than Willamette in the final standings. All nine NWC head coaches voted in this year’s poll, with UPS listed first on seven ballots and Willamette ranked first on two ballots.

Last year, Puget Sound won the NWC championship with a 13-1-2 record (41 pts.) in conference play. Willamette finished second in the NWC at 13-2-1 (40 pts.). Both teams qualified for the NCAA Division III National Tournament and competed in a four-team “regional” in Tacoma, Wash. Willamette tied #1-ranked Trinity University (Texas), 1-1, in the first round, but Trinity advanced on penalty kicks (3-1 pk’s). Puget Sound tied 13th-ranked Hardin-Simmons University (Texas), 2-2, before HSU won a penalty kick tie-breaker (6-5 pk’s) to advance to the second round.

In the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Poll, released following the NCAA Tournament, Puget Sound was ranked 14th. Willamette was ranked 20th in the Final Poll.

Willamette has won 10 NWC titles, including a co-championship with UPS in 2002. Nine of the Bearcats’ conference titles have been since Head Coach Jim Tursi was hired at Willamette in 1993. WU won seven consecutive titles from 1993 through 1999 (a co-championship followed by six outright titles). The Bearcats also won an outright title in 2001, before tying UPS at the top of the standings in 2002.

Puget Sound and Willamette were followed in this year’s NWC Preseason Poll by Whitworth University in third with 64 points. Whitman College was fourth at 52 points, Pacific Lutheran University ranked fifth at 41, George Fox University was sixth with 29, Linfield College held seventh place at 27, Pacific University was eighth at 23, and Lewis & Clark ranked ninth at 21.

Top returning players for the Bearcats are Meghan Anderson (So., MF/F, Eugene, OR/South Eugene HS), Kelsey Rogel (Jr., D, Tacoma, WA/Bellarmine Prep) and Selena Levy (Jr., D, San Anselmo, CA/Sir Francis Drake HS). Anderson and Rogel earned First Team All-Northwest Conference honors in 2006, while Levy was a Second Team selection.

Anderson scored six goals and recorded a team-high nine assists last season to tie for second on the squad with 21 points. She registered at least one goal or one assist in 12 games, including a streak of seven consecutive games from Sept. 16 through Oct. 7. Rogel helped the Willamette defense hold opponents to just 10 goals in 21 games. She also scored the tying goal in a 1-1 tie with Whitman on Oct. 15. Levy also contributed on defense, as the Bearcats allowed more than one goal just one time during the season.

Tursi’s record at Willamette over the past 14 seasons is 229-44-21 (.814), including 144-20-13 (.850) in NWC games. His career record, including three years as the head coach at the University of Portland (1986-88), is 265-58-25 (.797).

The Bearcats open the regular season by playing the University of California-Santa Cruz in Tacoma, Wash. (at Puget Sound) on Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. (PDT). WU’s home opener is set for Sept. 9 against the University of La Verne (Calif.) at 7 p.m. (PDT).

2007 Northwest Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

Meghan Anderson provided the Bearcats with six goals and a team-high nine assists as a freshman last season.

Meghan Anderson provided the Bearcats with six goals and a team-high nine assists as a freshman last season.