Bearcats are Fifth in NWC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll

Willamette Returns Top Three Scorers from 2011

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University Bearcats are predicted to finish in fifth place in the Northwest Conference this season according to the 2012 NWC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll. All eight NWC head coaches voted in the poll.

Willamette concluded the 2011 season with a 6-9-2 overall record, including 5-8-1 (16 points) in the NWC. The Bearcats tied Pacific University for fifth place in the final NWC standings.

At the top of this year's Preseason Poll are defending co-champions Pacific Lutheran University and Whitworth University. PLU was listed first with five of eight first place votes and 50 points in the poll. Whitworth held second place with two first place votes and 45 points.

Pacific Lutheran suffered just two defeats in conference play last year, a 2-1 loss to Willamette on Sept. 18 and a 1-0 loss to the University of Puget Sound on Nov. 5. The Lutes finished 15-4 overall and went 12-2 (36 points) in the NWC.

Whitworth was 14-3-1 on the season and achieved a 12-2 record (36 points) in the NWC. The Pirates' only losses in NWC action came in a pair of 1-0 defeats against PLU.

Following the Lutes and the Pirates in third place in this season's poll was Puget Sound (11-6, 10-4 NWC) with one first place vote and 39 points. Whitman College (9-8-2, 9-5 NWC) was fourth with 30 points, while Willamette was fifth with 27 points.

Pacific University (5-12-1, 5-8-1 NWC) was listed in sixth place with 20 points. Linfield College (2-14-1, 1-12-1 NWC) was seventh with 13 points and George Fox University (2-15-1, 0-13-1 NWC) was eighth with eight points.

Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Fobi enters his second season with the Bearcats. He will rely on the team's top three scorers from a year ago, who are all back for 2012 after starting every game in 2011. All three of the top scorers were named Second Team All-NWC.

Erik Kaufman (Sr., F, Portland, OR/Grant HS) led the Bearcats in scoring last fall with seven goals and two assists for 16 points. He recorded five game-winning goals. In three seasons (2008, 2009, 2011), Kaufman has registered 22 goals and four assists (48 points) for the Bearcats. He missed the 2010 season due to an injury.

Mike McGrew (Sr., MF, Portland, OR/Grant HS) and Adan Vazquez (Jr., F, Woodburn, OR/Woodburn HS) tied for second on the team in scoring last season, with each player contributing six goals and four assists (16 points). McGrew provided significant skill in leading the midfield, while Vazquez added speed and quickness to the offensive attack.

Willamette is set to open the regular season with the three games in Texas. The Bearcats will take on Mississippi College in a neutral-site game at San Antonio on Friday, Aug. 31 at 5:30 p.m. CDT/3:30 p.m. PDT. WU will face Southwestern University in Georgetown on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. CDT/5 p.m. PDT, and will play Trinity University in San Antonio on Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. CDT/12 p.m. PDT.

The Bearcats will play their home opener at Sparks Field on Saturday, Sept. 8 against Northwest University at 6 p.m. (PDT).

2012 NWC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
(1st place votes in parentheses)

1. Pacific Lutheran (5), 50 points, 15-4-0 overall, 12-2 NWC in 2011
2. Whitworth (2), 45 points, 14-3-1, 12-2 NWC
3. Puget Sound (1), 39 points, 11-6-0, 10-4-0 NWC
4. Whitman, 30 points, 9-8-2, 9-5-0 NWC
5. Willamette, 27 points, 6-9-2, 5-8-1 NWC
6. Pacific, 20 points, 5-12-1, 5-8-1 NWC
7. Linfield, 13 points, 2-14-1, 1-12-1 NWC
8. George Fox, 8 points, 2-15-1, 0-13-1 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on an 8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

Erik Kaufman led the Bearcats in scoring in last season with 7 goals and 2 assists for 16 points.

Erik Kaufman led the Bearcats in scoring in last season with 7 goals and 2 assists for 16 points.