The Ashland University women's soccer team was picked to finish fourth in the GLIAC preseason coaches' poll released by the league office on Wednesday (Aug. 7) morning.
The Eagles garnered 63 points in the poll, just four behind second-place Ferris State with Saginaw Valley slotted in third. Grand Valley State was picked to repeat as champion.
Ashland comes into the season having graduated just two senior reserves from last year's squad that went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. The Eagles were 10-5-5 overall and also advanced to the GLIAC Tournament semifinal after defeating host Michigan Tech as the No. 5 seed in the first round.
All but one starter returns from last year's team, including a pair of All-GLIAC center backs, senior Sydney Wright (all-region first team) and sophomore Tori Baker, and reigning GLIAC Goalkeeper of the Year Hannah Lee, who is entering her junior season.
That trio led the defensive unit to a goals against average of 0.82 last season. The Eagles permitted just 9.7 shots against per game and posted 10 shutouts.
In the attack, the Eagles scored 34 goals and return 33 of them this season. Senior Deijah Swihart led the team with six goals in an injury-shortened season and ranks 10th on AU's all-time scoring list with 24 goals. Six other returners scored multiple goals last season, including sophomore Makenzie Kelly and junior Hannah Simard, who had five each.
The Eagles also have stability in the midfield with All-GLIAC sophomore Bella Petrock patrolling the middle of the park.
The Eagles will be in their second season under head coach Taylor Clarke, who was named the full-time head coach on Feb. 20, 2019 after serving in an interim role last year.
The full GLIAC poll follows.
|Team (First-Place Votes)||Points|
|1. Grand Valley State (9)||81|
|2. Ferris State (1)||67|
|3. Saginaw Valley||64|
|5. Michigan Tech||49|
|8. Northern Michigan||23|
|10. Purdue Northwest||12|