CLEVELAND, Ohio – After claiming their 10th conference crown this past season, Denison women's soccer will open the 2019 campaign as the preseason favorite in the North Coast Athletic Conference for the fifth-straight year.
The Big Red collected a conference-best eight first-place votes for a total of 80 points while Wooster followed in second place with 67 points and the final first-place vote. Kenyon landed in third with 66 points and Wittenberg placed fourth overall with 56 points.
Following a 12-3-2 record in 2018 with an undefeated 6-0-2 mark in NCAC play, the Big Red look to be in good hands for 2019 with head coach Gail Murphy returning for her 23rd season at the helm. Returning three of their top four scorers from last season, the Denison offense will turn to senior Claire Kolff and sophomore Liz Gilbert who combined for 12 goals and 29 points in 2018. Junior defender Kelly O'Neill also returns to solidify the Big Red backline, while also adding some offense with four goals and an assist this past season.
O'Neill is joined on defense by senior Emma Phinney and a pair of All-NCAC selections in junior Kate Dannemiller and sophomore Katie Livingston. The veteran group helped anchor a Denison defense that posted a goals-against-average of 0.62 last season while securing nine shutouts overall.
In goal, Murphy & Co. will lean on sophomore Patil Tcholakian after she enjoyed a breakout rookie campaign in 2018. Named to the All-NCAC second team as a freshman, Tcholakian started all 17 matches in goal for the Big Red while totaling 72 saves, six shutouts, and leading the conference in save percentage (.878) and goals-against average (0.59). She also garnered a career-best 11 saves against No. 18 Centre College on September 15.
DU will kick off the 2019 season on Friday, August 30 when they travel to Lexington, Va. to take on the Bears of Bridgewater State University at 2:30 p.m. The Big Red will return to Lexington on Saturday, August 31 for a matchup with Washington & Lee, also at 2:30 p.m.