After posting the program’s most wins in five years and returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, Denison narrowly edged DePauw for the top spot in the 2016 NCAC Women’s Soccer Poll based on balloting by the league coaches.
The Big Red earned five of nine possible first-place votes to top the poll with 77 total points. Denison, which has only lost five league games over the past three years, is coming off a 16 win season in 2015, which ties for the second-most wins in a single-season in program history. DePauw, coming off its first-ever conference title and the program’s second NCAC Tournament Title, earned the final four first-place votes to finish six points behind Denison in the poll with 71 points. Kenyon checked in at third with 60 points, followed by Wittenberg (54), Wooster (46), Allegheny (42), Oberlin (24), Hiram (18) and Ohio Wesleyan (13).
Denison will again enter competition this fall under the direction of head coach Gail Murphy. In 19 seasons at the helm of the Big Red women’s soccer program, Murphy has posted a record of 261-97-30 (.711), including seven NCAC championships and 13 appearances in the NCAA Div. III Tournament. The Big Red return a league-high four all-conference performers from 2015, including NCAC Offensive Player of the Year in senior Anne Denz (Wheaton, IL/Wheaton North) and the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year, junior Drew Wentzel (Schaumburg, IL/James B. Conant). Last year marked the first-time since 1999 that both major conference awards were given to players from the same program. Offensively, the Big Red return their top four point scorers and six of their top seven from a season ago that led the NCAC in goals (46) and tied for the league lead in assists (25). Denz along with sophomore Maggie Armstrong (Wilmette, IL/New Trier), senior Jacquie Graham (Shavertown, PA/Scranton Prep) and junior Meg Wozniak (Kenilworth, IL/New Trier) combined for 27 goals and 11 assists for 65 total points in 2015. Joining Wentzel to anchor the defense is junior goalkeeper Jenny Herold (Miami, FL/Our Lady of Lourdes Acad.) who boasted a 0.65 goals-against-average, .831 save percentage, 69 saves and 10 shutouts as season ago.
The 2016 NCAC women’s soccer season begins on September 1st, with several teams competing in early season tournaments across the country, while the first conference matches of the season are scheduled for Saturday, September 24th. The 2016 NCAC Women’s Soccer Tournament will be held in November as semifinal matches will be contested on Wednesday the 2nd and the championship match being played Saturday the 5th.
Founded in 1983, the North Coast Athletic Conference is made up of ten academically selective colleges and universities - Allegheny College, Denison University, DePauw University, Hiram College, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wabash College, Wittenberg University and the College of Wooster, along with affiliate member, Earlham College (field hockey). The NCAC sponsors 23 championship sports, 11 for men and 12 for women.
2016 North Coast Athletic Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll