Willamette Sits Sixth in NWC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The 2010 Northwest Conference Men's Soccer Preseason Poll predicts that Willamette University will finish in fifth place, as determined in voting by the league's head coaches. Willamette was fifth in the final NWC standings last season, when the Bearcats went 6-13 overall, 5-9 in the NWC.

Whitworth University, which claimed its third straight Northwest Conference title in 2009, has been picked to repeat as the NWC champion. Whitworth received six of eight first place votes and 67 points in the poll. Last year, Whitworth achieved a 16-3-3 overall record, including 11-1-2 in the NWC.

Pacific Lutheran University (14-5, 11-3 NWC) ranks second in the poll with one first place vote and 55 points. Pacific University (14-3-2, 10-2-2 NWC) has the remaining first place vote and is listed third with 46 points. The University of Puget Sound (9-9-2, 6-6-2 NWC) follows in fourth with 37 points.

Linfield College (5-13-1, 4-10 NWC) holds fifth place in the poll with 27 points, while Willamette is sixth with 25 points. Whitman College (4-12-3, 3-9-2 NWC) is ranked seventh with 23 points and George Fox University (5-14, 2-12 NWC) is eighth with 10 points.

The Bearcats will have three seniors in 2010. They are goalkeeper Eben Hellekson (Honolulu, HI/University Laboratory School), defender Pete Kline (Cheyenne, WY/Cheyenne Central HS) and forward Ross Vartain (Palo Alto, CA/Mid-Peninsula HS).

Hellekson played in 10 games (8 starts) in 2009 and led the Bearcats goalkeepers with 690 minutes played. Kline, who ranked second on the team with five assists, saw action in 19 games with 18 starts. Vartain competed in 10 games with four starts.

Head Coach Nelson Larson begins his fifth season leading the Willamette men's soccer team. He also spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Bearcats

NWC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Whitworth (6), 67 points, 16-3-3 overall, 11-1-2 NWC in 2009
2. Pacific Lutheran (1), 55 points, 14-5, 11-3 NWC
3. Pacific (1), 46 points, 14-3-2, 10-2-2 NWC
4. Puget Sound, 37 points, 9-9-2, 6-6-2 NWC
5. Linfield, 27 points, 5-13-1, 4-10 NWC
6. Willamette, 25 points, 6-13, 5-9 NWC
7. Whitman, 23 points, 4-12-3, 3-9-2 NWC
8. George Fox, 10 points, 5-14, 2-12 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on a 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

Pete Kline returns for his senior season with the Bearcats. Kline has played in 51 career games, including 40 starts.

Pete Kline returns for his senior season with the Bearcats. Kline has played in 51 career games, including 40 starts.