The Ashland University women's soccer team was picked to finish second in the GLIAC standings in the preseason coaches' poll the league office announced on Monday (Aug. 6) morning.
The Eagles have finished in the top three in the GLIAC standings in four of the last five seasons and were second in the regular season last year with a 7-2 mark in league play and 12-5-2 overall. Ashland advanced to the GLIAC Tournament semifinal for the fourth time in five years and just missed out on its first NCAA berth since 2004.
Taylor Clarke is in his first season leading the Eagles as the program's interim head coach. He previously served as a graduate assistant with Ashland in 2014 and 2015 and was a men's assistant coach at UNC Wilmington and Calvin College the last two years.
Clarke will have plenty of returning talent to work with, starting with all-region center back Sydney Wright bolstering a back line that had a 1.26 goals against average last season. Other starters returning on defense include sophomore Hillary Mihalik and sophomore goalkeeper Abby Lampe.
Up top, the Eagles will need to replace 16 goals by graduated senior Morgan Bittengle, but will have Deijah Swihart returning after missing all of last year with an injury. She has 18 goals in her career and was the 2015 GLIAC Freshman of the Year.
The Eagles open the season at Lewis on Aug. 30, then will play seven of their next eight games at home.
The full GLIAC poll follows.
|School (First-Place Votes)||Points|
|1. Grand Valley State (9)||81|
|3. Ferris State (1)||68|
|4. Saginaw Valley State||54|
|6. Michigan Tech||38|
|7. Northern Michigan||34|
|10. Purdue Northwest||9|