2007 Women's Soccer Preview
Aug. 15, 2007
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Coming off the best season in recent history, the Western Washington University women's soccer team returns 16 letter winners as it seeks a second consecutive appearance in the West Regional of the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
The Vikings were 14-5-1 last season, finishing second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with a 7-2-1 record and reaching the first round of regionals, their first post-season appearance as an NCAA member.
"The trip to the tournament can only help us," said Western coach Travis Connell (5th year, 41-33-5). "It gave the players experience and a taste of what they can have
Two all-region selections return - senior midfielder Amanda Font (Federal Way/Decatur) and sophomore defender Meghan Woodman (Redmond) - although Woodman may miss much of the season after having ankle surgery.
Font, who enters her fourth year as a starter, was a second-team NSCAA all-West Region pick last season. She had five goals and four assists, and was also an important part of Western's defensive organization. Font has 14 career goals.
Two other players were all-region selections in 2005. Senior goalkeeper Teresa Fish (Snohomish) missed all of 2006 with a broken leg, but was a second-team all-region pick in 2005, and is Western's career shutout leader with 20. Senior forward Rosie Zadra (Poulsbo/North Kitsap), who played midfield last year, will return to the forward slot that saw her score four goals and notch four assists in 2005 to earn second-team all-region honors.
Two returnees were second-team all-GNAC picks last year. Junior forward Kelly Gagne (Kent/Kentwood) is the leading returning scorer, with seven goals last season. Junior defender Katie Warner (Burlington/Burlington-Edison) has started every game at the heart of Western's backline the last two years.
Experience at the back is a strength for the Vikings, as junior Shelby Marcell (Redmond/Eastlake) also started all 20 games last year and senior Alyssa Kessler (Portland/Grant) is a three-year letter winner.
"Our backline is really experienced, which will enable us to do some things we weren't able to do in the past," said Connell.
Other returning starters are sophomore midfielder Jenny Barton (Boise, ID/Borah) and sophomore forward Kelly Irving (Gig Harbor). Irving had five goals and five assists, Barton had two goals and two assists.
The Vikings, who have often opened the season on long road trips, start 2007 with five consecutive home games. The GNAC schedule is also expanded to 14 games this season, with eight conference schools sponsoring the sport. There's also a greater chance to reach the post-season, as the national tournament has expanded from 32 to 48 teams, meaning six teams qualify for the West Regional.
"To compete against the top teams in our region, we're going to have to keep more possession than last year," Connell said. "We have to possess so we aren't defending all the time. We've made strides there, and it will be a good test when we face top teams."
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