CLEVELAND, Ohio – Thanks to the return of three seniors and three All-North Coast Athletic Conference selections, Denison women's soccer will open the 2018 campaign as the preseason favorite in the NCAC for the fourth-consecutive season.
Collecting one first-place vote and 71 total points, the Big Red edged past Wittenberg's 70 points in second place, as well as third-place Kenyon with 68 points.
Following a record of 8-6-4 in 2017, the Big Red look to be in good hands for 2018 with head coach Gail Murphy returning for her 21st season at the helm. Senior midfielders Sam Haseltine and Madison Smith will look to lead by example on and off the field, while fellow senior and two-time first-team All-NCAC selection, Maggie Armstrong, aims for another record-setting season.
After recording three goals and 13 points as the NCAC's Midfielder of the Year in 2016, Armstrong shattered her previous numbers in 2017 to lead the team with nine goals and 19 points, including two game-winners against Whitworth (Sept. 2) and Wooster (Oct. 21).
The Big Red also return multi-goal scorers in junior Claire Kolff and sophomore Kelly O'Neill. Kolff took a giant step forward in 2017, playing in 17 games for DU while tallying three goals and two assists on the season. O'Neill, who also tallied three goals and was named to the All-NCAC first-team, looks to return from a season-ending injury to lead a young defensive back-line with junior Emma Phinney that posted nine shutouts in 2017.
In goal, Murphy & Co. will be tasked with replacing four-year starter Jenny Herold, who tallied 265 saves and 47 wins during her time in Granville. Returning sophomore keepers Olivia Robinson and Maddie Coyne, who combined for four saves and a 0.00 goals-against average last season, are expected to be a part of the starting job competition in 2018.
DU will kick off the 2018 season on Friday, August 31 when they travel to Rochester, N.Y. to take on the Tigers of the Rochester Institute of Technology in the Rachel Miller Tournament at 3 p.m.
Denison will stay in Rochester on Saturday, September 1 when they face a Nazareth College team that finished last season at 12-4-2 and landed in a three-way tie for the regular season title in the Empire 8 Athletic Conference. The match is set to begin at 1 p.m. at Golden Flyer Stadium.
After their opening-weekend road trip, the Big Red will return to Barclay-Thomsen Field on Wednesday, September 5 when they play host to Otterbein University at 7 p.m. in their home opener.