WAYNE – As fall sports are having their preseason rankings announced, the 2017 Preseason NSIC Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Poll was released Monday afternoon.
From the league office in Burnsville, Minnesota, the Wayne State College women’s soccer team is picked to finish 11th overall with 78 points. Voting is conducted by league coaches.
Wayne State will return six starters from the 2016 squad that went 9-6-3 overall and tied for eighth in the league with a 6-6-3 mark. It was the most wins for a Wildcat soccer team since 2006 and the six league wins were the most for WSC since the 2005 season.
Wayne State College will also be under first-year head coach, third-year WSC coach Joe Cleary. Cleary was the assistant coach under Bruce Erickson in 2015 and 2016. Alex Piekarski will be the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the upcoming season.
Following a 2016 NSIC Tournament Title for Minnesota State-Mankato and a NCAA DII Tournament appearance, the Mavericks are selected to win the NSIC with 11 first-place votes and 217 points overall. Augustana University followed in second with the remaining five first-place votes and 210 points, Bemidji State in third (188), past league champion Minot State followed in fourth (187) and St. Cloud State rounded out the top five teams (165).
Remaining teams include Minnesota Duluth (sixth – 160), Northern State (seventh – 134), Concordia-St. Paul (eighth – 119), Upper Iowa (ninth – 107), Winona State (10th – 94), Wayne State (11th – 78), University of Mary (12th – 71), Sioux Falls (13th – 51), Southwest Minnesota State (14th – 50), Minnesota Crookston (15th – 45), MSU Moorhead (16th – 44).
The NSIC preseason offensive player to watch is junior forward Morgan Cottew of Minnesota State-Mankato while the defensive player to watch is senior defender Kelli Creese from Minot State.
Wildcat offensive player to watch this season is junior midfielder Brooke Buzzell and the defensive player to watch is junior defender Alexis Strothers.
Buzzell is a graduate of Palmer Ridge High School in Monument, Colorado, who led the Wildcats in scoring last season with five goals and one assist for 11 points while playing in 17 games with 10 starts. Buzzell also had 15 shots during the season (seven on goal) including two game-winning goals. She was named to the NSIC Fall All-Academic Team in 2016.
Strothers is a Gurnee, Illinois native who appeared in all 18 matches last season with 17 starts and recorded one goal while ranking third on the team in minutes played with 1,609 (Kylie Comba – 1,661/Kelsey Engstrom – 1,625 both graduated). She also played a season-high 110 minutes in three double overtime games. Strothers was selected to the NSIC Fall All-Academic Team in 2016.
The Wayne State College women’s soccer team will begin their 2017 season with a home exhibition game on Sunday, August 20 when Midland University comes to town for a 6 p.m. start. WSC will open league play at Augustana University on Thursday, August 31 (5 p.m.) before hosting Colorado Christian (11 a.m.) on Sunday, September 3 and Black Hills State (2 p.m.) on Monday, September 4.
2017 NSIC Preseason Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Poll
- Minnesota State (11) 217 pts.
- Augustana (5) 210 pts.
- Bemidji State 188 pts.
- Minot State 187 pts.
- St. Cloud State 165 pts.
- Minnesota Duluth 160 pts.
- Northern State 134 pts.
- Concordia-St. Paul 119 pts.
- Upper Iowa 107 pts.
- Winona State 94 pts.
- Wayne State 78 pts.
- University of Mary 71 pts.
- Sioux Falls 51 pts.
- Southwest Minn. State 50 pts.
- Minnesota Crookston 45 pts.
- MSU Moorhead 44 pts.