Willamette is Sixth in NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's soccer team is listed sixth in the 2011 Northwest Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll, according to votes cast by the NWC's head coaches. University of Puget Sound was picked to win its 10th consecutive NWC title.

Puget Sound claimed last year's NWC championship with a 14-1-1 record. The Loggers finished 17-2-2 overall. UPS received seven of the nine first place votes in this season's preseason poll for a total of 69 points. 

Whitworth, which finished 2010 with a 14-5-1 overall record, including 12-3-1 in the NWC, was ranked second in the poll with 56 points and one first place vote. Linfield College (13-6-1, 11-4-1 NWC) followed closely in third place with 55 points and one first place vote.

Fourth place in the poll went to Whitman College (6-11-2, 4-10-2 NWC), as the Missionaries received 36 points. Pacific University (8-9-3, 8-6-2 NWC) was fifth with 32 points.

Willamette (7-11-2, 6-8-2 NWC) trailed Pacific by just a single point. The Bearcats garnered 31 points and were listed sixth overall. George Fox University (5-11-4, 4-10-2) was seventh with 20 points.

Lewis & Clark College (3-13-4, 1-13-2 NWC) held eighth place with 15 points. Pacific Lutheran University (5-13-1, 5-10-1 NWC) was ninth with 13 points.

Willamette Head Coach Hillary Arthur returns for her fourth season with the Bearcats. She will be leading 14 returning players and 13 newcomers. The WU roster includes eight returning starters.

Stephanie Skelly (Sr., MF, Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS) and Andrea Rowan (Jr., MF, Boise, ID/Timberline HS) both earned Second Team All-NWC recognition in 2010. They appear to be the key catalysts for Willamette's offense this season.

Skelly tallied 11 goals, including three game-winning goals last season. She also scored a pair of game-tying goals. Skelly has provided WU with 19 goals and two assists (40 points) during her career.

Rowan contributed a goal and two assists last fall, giving her four goals and four assists in two seasons with the Bearcats. Equally important is her ability to control the ball, move across the defense and supply teammates with quality passes.

Willamette will begin the season with a pair of home game at Sparks Field. The Bearcats will host nearby rival Corban University on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. (PDT). WU will take on visiting Northwest University (Wash.) on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 5 p.m. (PDT).

The Bearcats will then play two games in California -- against the University of Redlands (Sept. 9) and Occidental College (Sept. 11) -- before opening NWC action at Puget Sound on Sept. 17 in Tacoma, Wash.

NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Puget Sound (7), 69 points, 17-2-2 overall, 14-1-1 NWC in 2010
2. Whitworth (1), 56 points, 14-5-1, 12-3-1 NWC
3. Linfield (1), 55 points, 13-6-1, 11-4-1 NWC
4. Whitman, 36 points, 6-11-2, 4-10-2 NWC
5. Pacific, 32 points, 8-9-3, 8-6-2 NWC
6. Willamette, 31 points, 7-11-2, 6-8-2 NWC
7. George Fox, 20 points, 5-11-4, 4-10-2 NWC
8. Lewis & Clark, 15 points, 3-13-4, 1-13-2 NWC
9. Pacific Lutheran, 13 points, 5-13-1, 5-10-1 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on an 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Each coach was not allowed to vote for his/her own team.

Stephanie Skelly led the Bearcats with 11 goals last season. She has scored 19 goals in her Willamette career.

Stephanie Skelly led the Bearcats with 11 goals last season. She has scored 19 goals in her Willamette career.