WU Women's Soccer Listed Fourth in NWC Preseason Poll

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University has been chosen to finish fourth in the 2009 Northwest Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches. The Bearcats concluded last season with a 12-8-0 overall record, including 10-6-0 (3rd place) in the NWC.

The University of Puget Sound, which has won seven consecutive NWC titles, was chosen first in the Preseason Poll with 90 total points and all nine first place votes. UPS was 18-2-0 overall and 16-0-0 in the NWC last season.

Whitworth University (15-4-1, 11-4-1 NWC) was ranked second with 69 points, while Whitman College (11-7-1, 9-6-1 NWC) was third with 60 points. Willamette held fourth place with 58 points. George Fox University (12-8, 8-8 NWC) was listed fifth with 42 points.

Pacific University (5-14-1, 4-11-1 NWC) was sixth with 35 points and Pacific Lutheran University (5-11-3, 4-10-2 NWC) was seventh with 29 points. Linfield College (6-14-0, 4-12-0 NWC) followed in eighth place with 19 points. Lewis & Clark College (4-12-4, 3-12-1 NWC) was ninth with 12 points.

Willamette returns both its starting goalkeeper, Kelli Gano (Jr., GK, Portland, OR/North Medford HS), and the team's' top scorer, Alex Batzer (Jr., MF/F, Medford, OR/North Medford HS). Gano has played in 39 games (33 starts) and has achieved a 1.15 career goals against average. She has registered 13 solo shutouts, including seven in 2008. She played every minute of every game a year ago.

Batzer led the Bearcats with six goals and 13 total points last season. She recorded three game-winning goals. In two years at Willamette, she has played in 38 games (36 starts), while scoring nine goals and earning two assists. She was named Honorable Mention All-NWC in 2008.

Head Coach Hillary Arthur enters her second season at Willamette. Last year, the Bearcats were 10-4 in one-goal games, including 7-3 in games decided by a 1-0 margin.

NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Puget Sound (9), 90 points, 18-2-0 overall, 16-0-0 NWC in 2008
2. Whitworth, 69 points, 15-4-1, 11-4-1 NWC
3. Whitman, 60 points, 11-7-1, 9-6-1 NWC
4. Willamette, 58 points, 12-8-0, 10-6-0 NWC
5. George Fox, 42 points, 12-8-0, 8-8-0 NWC
6. Pacific, 35 points, 5-14-1, 4-11-1 NWC
7. Pacific Lutheran, 29 points, 5-11-3, 4-10-2 NWC
8. Linfield, 19 points, 6-14-0, 4-12-0 NWC
9. Lewis & Clark, 12 points, 4-12-4, 3-12-1 NWC

Goalie Kelli Gano has earned 13 solo shutouts during her career. She owns a 1.15 career goals against average.

Goalie Kelli Gano has earned 13 solo shutouts during her career. She owns a 1.15 career goals against average.