Western Washington edges SPU to top GNAC Preseason Poll

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Brianna Jones
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Brianna Jones
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Aug. 21, 2014

2014 GNAC Preseason Outlook Get Acrobat Reader

PORTLAND, Ore. -

GNAC Coaches Poll 2013 Records Pts.

1. Western Washington (6) 20-2-1 (13-1-0, 1st) 62
2. Seattle Pacific (2) 15-6-1 (10-4-0, 3rd) 56
3. Central Washington 11-6-1 (10-3-1, 2nd) 46
4. Western Oregon 9-4-6 (7-3-4, 4th) 40
5. MSU Billings 6-8-2 (5-8-1, 5th) 29
   Saint Martin's 4-12-1 (3-10-1, 6th) 29
7. Northwest Nazarene 2-12-3 (1-10-3, 7th) 15
8. Simon Fraser 1-13-2 (1-11-2, 8th) 11

The GNAC coaches voted the Western Washington Vikings to finish first in the 2014 GNAC pre-season coaches poll.

The No. 3 nationally ranked Vikings, coming off their best season in school history with a 20-2-1 record, look to improve upon last year's overtime loss in the NCAA semifinals.

Western Washington, which tallied 62 points and six first place votes, returns 13 letter winners from 2013, directed by GNAC Coach of the Year Travis Connell.

The reigning GNAC regular season champions have team points and goals leader Catherine Miles coming back as well as GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and Daktronics first team All-American Brianna Jones.

Seattle Pacific comes in right behind Western Washington in the coaches poll, having totaled 56 points and receiving two first place votes.

After its own trip to the NCAA tournament last year, head coach Chuck Sekyra and the Falcons look to repeat as GNAC tournament champions.

The Falcons knocked off the regular season champs, WWU, in a penalty kick shootout 2-1 in the GNAC conference tournament last year.

This is the seventh year in a row that SPU and Western Washington has topped the pre-season poll.

The only other team to reach double digit wins in 2013 was Central Washington, coming in third in this year's poll.

First team GNAC midfielder Danielle Brandi returns to improve upon her nine goal performance from 2013.

Newcomer of the Year and first team GNAC goalkeeper Amanda Rose Johnson leads Western Oregon to the fourth spot with 40 points.

The Wolves finished 11th in the nation in goals against average and ninth in save percentage last year.

Tying fifth in the poll are Montana State Billings and Saint Martins, each with 29 points.

Montana State Billings finished the 2013 GNAC season in fifth place with 5-8-1 conference record.

MSUB returns the most starters of any team in the conference with 10 led by senior midfielder and second team GNAC member Chelsea Shuman.

Saint Martin's is looking to break through the top four of the conference as it returns 18 letter winners to the team. The Saints will look to flip the results of last year as the team lost six games by one goal.

Second year coach Mary Trigg will look to improve a Northwest Nazarene team that finished seventh in conference play last year.

The Crusaders return their top two scorers in second team GNAC forward Kelsey Martin and junior forward Lexi Fresenbek.

Placing eighth in the coaches poll is Simon Fraser where there is a new face in the head coaching position for the first time in 25 years as Annie Hamel takes over for longtime coach Shelley Howieson.

Team Capsules

WESTERN WASHINGTON Vikings

Western Washington is coming off its best season in program history. After going 13-1-0 in GNAC play and winning the regular season conference championship, the Vikings won the west regional in the NCAA Tournament before suffering a heartbreaking loss in the national semifinal.

The Vikings finished in the top 25 nationally in assists, scoring offense, goals against average, save percentage, shutout percentage and won-lost-tied percentage. A big part of that team was GNAC Player of the Year and first team All-American Kristin Maris, who leaves Western Washington eighth on its career scoring list.

With 13 letter winners and six starters returning however, 2014 looks to be just as promising as last year.

First team GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and Daktronics first team All-American Brianna Jones (D, 5-8, Sr., Bonney Lake, WA) is back to try and lead the Vikings to their first national title appearance.

Also returning is leading goal scorer Catherine Miles (F, 5-7, Jr., Anacortes, WA). Miles finished 2013 with a conference high 15 goals and 33 points.

Coach of the Year Travis Connell will be looking to team Miles up with Elise Aylward (F, 5-9, So., Renton, WA) and incoming transfer Anna DeWeirdt (F, 5-7, So., Samammish, WA) for a powerful attack in 2014. Aylward had two goals and seven assists last year while DeWeirdt started 13 games at Division I New Hampshire.

Seniors Kim Cooper (M, 5-1, Sr., Bellingham, WA), who earned second team west-region honors, and Katherine Miccile (D, 5-5, Sr., Kent, WA) bring experience and depth after playing in all 23 games last season.

Stephanie Hamilton (F, 5-2, Jr., Orting, WA) and Jessica Bertucci (F, 5-8, Jr., Bellingham, WA) combined for six goals and eight assists in a collective 39 games.

This will be the first time in 15 years the Vikings will play home games on its campus. Western Washington has gone 91-25-13 since 2001 and 26-2-3 the last three seasons playing at "home."

SEATTLE PACIFIC Falcons

With a 15-6-1 record in 2013, the 25th ranked Seattle Pacific Falcons enter this season with the hopes of winning another conference championship.

The Falcons upended the 10th ranked and regular season champion Western Washington Vikings 2-1 on penalty kicks for their first conference tournament title. The team advanced to the NCAA west region semifinals before being eliminated by the Vikings.

Seattle Pacific placed one player on the GNAC first team, three on the second team and four players were honorable mentions. Seven of these eight players return to the Falcons in 2014.

First team GNAC forward Laura Moore (F, 5-3, Jr., Kent, WA) returns after leading the Falcons in goals (eight) and points (20) while gaining the second most assists (four).

Four other players return that played in all 22 matches last season.

Juniors Shayla Page (D, 5-6, Jr., Redmond, WA) and Taylor Hauck (D, 5-4, Jr., Shoreline, WA) are back on the defensive side of the ball. The two played more minutes than anyone else on the team last season.

Second team GNAC player Alexa Diaz (D, 5-4, Sr., Burien, WA) will join Page and Hauck on a defense that allowed 16 goals in 2013. Diaz was also second in the conference with 8 assists.

Despite only playing in 14 games, Hannah Huesers (F, 5-10, So., Lake Stevens, WA) was second on the team in goals (six) and points (15).

Isabel Farrell (M, 5-6, Jr., Redmond, WA), transferring from the nearby University of Washington, will press for significant playing time after starting 18 games last season for the Huskies. Farrell was second on the team in assists (four) and points (six).

CENTRAL WASHINGTON Wildcats

The end of the regular season was fantastic for Central Washington which won six of its last eight conference games. In that span the Wildcats scored 11 goals while only giving up four and completing five shutouts.

Central Washington saw its season end by Seattle Pacific in the GNAC conference tournament. The Falcons scored in the 89th minute to dash the Wildcats chances for an NCAA tournament appearance.

The team's 11-6-1 record was the best since head coach Michael Farrand took over the Wildcats team in 2000.

CWU has nine starters and 13 letter winners returning to the lineup.

The duo of Danielle Brandi (M, 5-4, Sr., Bellevue, WA) and Reilly Retz (M, 5-7, Jr., Kent, WA) combined for seven game-winning goals last year. Brandi garnered first team GNAC honors with nine goals and had three games recording at least four points. Retz earned honorable mention GNAC with three goals and two assists in 18 games started.

Joining Retz on the honorable mention team was Hadli Farrand (F, 5-7, Sr., Ellensburg, WA) who contributed one goal and two assists in 17 games played.

A big reason the Wildcats were able to finish the way they did was because of Kayla Lipston (GK, 5-11, Sr., Federal Way, WA). Lipston, who earned second team GNAC honors, completed five shutouts and allowed 12 goals in her 14 games played. She ranks second in school history with 1.11 goals allowed per game and is fifth on Central Washington's all-time saves list with 184 stops.

Lauren Duty (F, 5-7, Jr., Black Diamond, WA) played in 16 games last year and recorded three goals, including a game winner against Montana State Billings.

Two sophomores, Karlee Goehner (M, 5-7, So., East Wenatchee, WA) and Jessica Haga (D, 5-6 So., Bremerton, WA), gained valuable experience by playing in all 18 games as true freshman.

WESTERN OREGON Wolves

Western Oregon finished 2013 with a 7-3-4 conference record which positioned the team in fourth place. The Wolves overall record of 9-4-6 was the best since the 2002 season.

The four losses that WOU had was against the top two teams in the conference, Western Washington and Seattle Pacific.

The Wolves might have been at their best when at home; scoring 13 goals while only surrendering one. Western Oregon came away with a 6-1 home record. All six victories were shutouts.

First team GNAC and Newcomer of the Year Amanda Rose Johnson (GK, 5-8, Sr., Montrose, CA) was particularly difficult to score on in 2013. In 16 games she allowed only nine goals and stopped 52 shots. Johnson also ranked 13th in the nation in goals against average.

Hillary Lutz (GK, 6-0, Sr., Olympia, WA), along with Johnson, helped Western Oregon become the ninth ranked team in the nation in save percentage (.880) and the 11th team in shutout percentage (.632).

The team's 2013 goals and points leader return as well as 14 other letter winners. Makana Pundyke (M, 5-5, Jr., Kula, HI) scored nine goals and racked up 20 points which both ranked eighth in the conference.

Two sophomores, Taylor Higa (F, 5-6, So., Manoa, HI) and Mariah Konyn (M, 5-2, So., Eugene, OR), added three goals and five assists for WOU.

Defenders Peyton Moon (D, 5-8, Sr., Nampa, ID) and Brooke Steinberg (D, 5-9, Sr., Bellingham, WA) will also return, each starting at least 18 games.

Second team GNAC midfielder JoEllen DeLeon (M, 5-2, Sr., Gresham, OR) will help control the middle of the field while adding onto her 1,763 minutes played last season.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS Yellowjackets

finish last season was second-team west region forward Heidi Greenback who led the team in scoring with seven goals.

Even though Greenback has departed, the Yellowjackets will have an experienced roster coming back. 10 starters and 14 letter winners return to a team that finished 6-8-2 last season.

Alisa Sagdahl (F, 5-8, Jr., Edmonds, WA) and Chelsea Shuman (M, 5-2, Sr., Kalispell, MT), who ranked seventh and ninth in assists per game last season in conference play, return after producing a combined five goals.

In the six games the Yellowjackets won in 2013, four of them were shutouts. Krystal Daniels (GK, 5-6, Sr., Kent, WA) is back in goal for MSUB. Even though she only started six games for the Yellowjackets, Daniels ranked second in the conference in goals against average (.48), fourth in save percentage (.842) and seventh in shutouts (2).

Starting all 16 games last year and leading the team in minutes played was Katlyn Lokay (D, 5-5, Jr., Boulder, CO). Lokay looks to have more days like she did against Simon Fraser where she earned a single-game and season high three points by recording one goal and one assist.

Along with Lokay on the defensive side of the ball will be experienced seniors Jessie Mancilla (D, 5-7, Sr., Aliso Viejo, CA) and Jennifer Johnson (D, 5-6, Sr., Wenatchee, WA).

Teegan Koster (D, 5-4, Jr., Sherwood, Ore.,) will be another experienced upper classman returning after scoring one goal in 15 games.

Head coach Wojtek Krakowiak, who has a 30-17-7 record in three seasons at MSUB, added another defender in the offseason that will push for immediate playing time.

While Hali Henwood (D, 5-8, Sr., Douglas, WY - Northwest College) was attending Northwest College, she was named a NJCAA Region IX All-Region Defender.

SAINT MARTIN'S Saints

The last year Saint Martin's finished with a record above .500 was 2009, but with 10 seniors in 2014 head coach Rob Walker hopes this is the year they can reach that height again.

In three years the seniors have compiled 27 assists, 16 goals and played in 53 games. The most valuable offensive player however is only a sophomore. Kelli Bannerman (F, 5-5, So., Ferndale, WA) was voted second team GNAC and also won the GNAC Freshman of the Year award after scoring 10 times in 2013.

Bannerman ranked third in points and goals in the conference while placing second in goals per game. The 10 goals she scored tied the freshman GNAC record.

Saint Martin's has two of the last three GNAC Freshman of the Year in Bannerman and Ashley Richardson (M, 5-3, Sr., Yakima, WA).

Richardson, one of the 10 seniors now, has been on the GNAC second team as a freshman and was an honorable mention selection in 2012.

Abby McFaul (F, 5-3, Jr., Federal Way, WA) and Nikki Roberts (M, 5-7, Sr., Tacoma, WA) return as the second and third leading scorers on the team.

The Saints lost six games by one goal last year, but the team returns eight experienced defensive players including four seniors.

One of these seniors is Kari Inch (M, 5-1, Sr., Ephrata, WA) who was placed on the GNAC honorable mention team last season and appeared in all 17 games.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE Crusaders

Northwest Nazarene graduated two of its three all-conference players last season. Lauren Kuklanski led the team in assists and Katie Butler, starting since she was a freshman, only missed four career games.

The third player returning however just happens to be the Crusaders leading scorer. Kelsey Martin (F, 5-2, So., Salem, OR) had four goals, which ranked 10th in the conference, and two assists in 17 games started as a freshman.

Martin isn't the only experienced player returning as seven other competitors on the 2013 Crusaders team are back.

Lexi Fresenbek (F, 5-4, Jr., Olympia, WA) added three goals and one assist for last year's squad. Fresenbek and Martin scored 88 percent of the teams goals in 2013.

Sarah Blum (F, 5-8, Sr., Troy, ID), who contributed the only other Crusader goal in 2013, played in all 17 games while starting 14.

In goal is Argia Phillips (GK, 5-7, Jr., Meridian, ID). Phillips faced the most shots in the conference with 83 last season. She ranked seventh in the conference in shutouts with two.

Also returning are midfielders Rachel Ball (M, 5-3, Jr., Ucon, ID) and Sarah Jenkins (M, 5-10, So., Everett, WA) who each recorded an assist to the top two goal scorers.

Second year coach Mary Trigg and her team proved to be a tough match on their own turf by only losing three of eight home games. Six of NNU eight goals all season came at home.

Looking to add to the Crusaders attack is All-American JuCo transfer Nicole Nsa (F, 5-7, Jr., Lakewood, CA). Nsa broke the single-season scoring record with 34 goals at Paradise Valley CC while also contributing 17 assists.

Kayla Williams (F, 5-8, So., Orting, WA) and McCrea Nirider (D, 5-4, Jr., Tacoma, WA) will also play a significant amount of time, each starting 16 games in 2013.

SIMON FRASER Clan

Twenty-five years is longer than most, if not all, the players on the Simon Fraser squad have been alive. That was the length of legendary coach Shelley Howieson's tenure at the institution.

Howieson moves to an administrative roll this season which brings in Annie Hamel as the Clan's second ever head coach.

Hamel has an experienced squad for her first year as seven starters and 14 letter winners return from 2013.

GNAC honorable mention nominee Karm Jawandha (M, 5-6, Jr., Delta, BC) started in every game she played in and was the Clan's constant barrage on the opposing goalkeeper, leading the team in shots and shots on goal.

Two forwards return to help Jawandha with the offensive attack. Sophie D'Souza (F, 5-5, So., Vancouver, BC) was the Clan's leading scorer and Kate Pearsall (F, 5-4, So., North Vancouver, BC) scored the game winning goal in the Clan's only victory of the year.

Jessica Marano (M, 5-6, Sr., Burnaby, BC) and Brianna Morrison (M, 5-7, Jr., Pitt Meadows, BC) will vie for more playing time this year after each starting eight games in the middle of the field in 2013.

The defense will be led by senior Kelsey Atherley (D, 5-9, Sr., Port Moody, BC) who has started 38 games in her SFU career.

Goalie Simone Tessler (GK, 6-0, So., Eugene, OR) led the conference with 5.29 saves per game and was second in total saves with 74. She will compete for the keeper job with incoming freshman Priya Sandhu (GK, 5-7, Fr., Surrey, BC) who starred on Canada's U-20 national team.