Bearcats are Seventh in NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's soccer team is predicted to finish seventh in the Northwest Conference this season according to the 2013 NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll. All of the NWC head coaches voted in the poll.

Linfield College, which took second place in the NWC last year with a 12-2-2 record and finished 16-2-2 overall, was picked to end the University of Puget Sound's hold on the conference championship. Puget Sound has won 11 consecutive NWC titles, including last fall, when the Loggers went 13-2-1 in the conference and 14-5-1 overall.

In this year's Preseason Poll, Linfield received five of nine first place ant 66 points. Puget Sound was second in the poll with four first place votes and 64 points.

Whitworth University (10-8-2, 10-4-2 NWC) was ranked third with 44 points, while Lewis & Clark College (7-9-3, 7-6-3 NWC) was fourth with 41 points. Pacific Lutheran University (6-5-7, 4-5-7 NWC) followed in fifth with 35 points and Pacific University (8-8-4, 6-8-2 NWC) was sixth at 32 points.

Willamette (5-13-2, 3-11-2 NWC) was seventh at 23 points, Whitman College (5-12-3, 4-9-3 NWC) held eighth at 18 points, and George Fox University (3-15-2, 2-14-0 NWC) was ninth with 10 points.

Key returning players for the Bearcats include forwards Ashland Bernard (So., Kirkland, WA/Juanita HS) and Sarah Desautels (Jr., Snohomish, WA/Glacier Peak HS), as well as goalkeeper Nicole Price (Sr., Auburn, WA/Thomas Jefferson HS).

Bernard was the team's scoring leader in 2012 with 5 goals and 3 assists for 13 total points. She recorded a three-goal hat trick plus an assist in Willamette's 4-3 overtime win at Lewis & Clark on Sept. 12. She led the Bearcats with 38 shots, including 20 shots on goal.

Desautels also achieved 5 goals and ranked second in overall scoring with 10 points. She took 35 shots during the season, while placing 18 shots on goal.

Price earned a 1.66 goals against average while playing in 18 games with 17 starts. She played 1,575 minutes in goal and registered 79 saves. She recorded three shutouts.

Willamette will start the season on Friday, Aug. 30 with a home game against Howard Payne University (Texas). Kickoff at Sparks Field is set for 5 p.m. (PDT). Overall, the Bearcats will play nine home games, including four in a row between Sept. 18 and Sept. 29.

Head Coach Hillary Arthur is in her sixth season with the Bearcats. She led Willamette to a third place finish in the NWC standings in 2011.

2013 NWC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Linfield (5), 66 points, 16-2-2 overall, 12-2-2 NWC in 2012
2. Puget Sound (4), 64 points, 14-5-1, 13-2-1 NWC
3. Whitworth, 44 points, 10-8-2, 10-4-2 NWC
4. Lewis & Clark, 41 points, 7-9-3, 7-6-3 NWC
5. Pacific Lutheran, 35 points, 6-5-7, 4-5-7 NWC
6. Pacific, 32 points, 8-8-4, 6-8-2 NWC
7. Willamette, 23 points, 5-13-2, 3-11-2 NWC
8. Whitman, 18 points, 5-12-3, 4-9-3 NWC
9. George Fox, 10 points, 3-15-2, 2-14-0 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on a 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Each coach was not allowed to vote for their own team.

Ashland Bernard scored 5 goals and 3 assists for the Bearcats during the 2012 season.

Ashland Bernard scored 5 goals and 3 assists for the Bearcats during the 2012 season.