After posting double-digit wins for the third consecutive year and returning to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year, Denison was tabbed as the preseason favorite in NCAC Women’s Soccer based on balloting from league coaches.
The Big Red earned seven of nine possible first-place votes to top the poll with 79 total points. Denison is coming off its first NCAC Tournament Title since 2010 and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2009-10 seasons. DePauw checked in at second with 66 points, followed by Wittenberg in third with 62 points. The Springfield Tigers received a first-place vote and enter 2017 after earning the program’s fourth NCAC Title and returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012 a season ago. Kenyon finished fourth in the poll with 56 points, while Wooster rounded out the top-five with 46 points and collected the final first-place vote. Allegheny and Ohio Wesleyan tied for sixth with 34 points, followed by Oberlin (17) and Hiram (11).
Denison will again enter competition this fall under the direction of head coach Gail Murphy. In 20 seasons at the helm of the Big Red women’s soccer program, Murphy has posted a record of 271-103-34 (.706), including seven NCAC championships and 14 appearances in the NCAA Div. III Tournament. The Big Red return three all-conference performers from 2016, including NCAC Midfielder of the Year in junior Maggie Armstrong (Wilmette, IL/New Trier). Offensively, the Big Red returns three of their top six scorers from a season ago that led the NCAC in goals (32) and tied for second in the league with 20 assists. Armstrong, along with senior Grace Murray (Whitefish Bay, WI/Whitefish Bay) and senior Meg Wozniak (Kenilworth, IL/New Trier), combined for 11 goals and five assists for 28 total points in 2016. Returning to anchor the defense is senior goalkeeper Jenny Herold (Miami, FL/Our Lady of Lourdes Acad.) who boasted a 0.97 goals-against-average, .759 save percentage, 63 saves and eight shutouts a season ago.
The 2017 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 23rd. The 2017 NCAC Women’s Soccer Tournament will be held in November as semifinal matches will be contested on Wednesday the 1st and the championship match being played Saturday the 4th.
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.
2017 North Coast Athletic Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll