Northwest Conference outlook
Whitworth picked up six out of eight possible first place votes to top the 2010 Northwest Conference men's soccer coaches poll. The Pirates are aiming for a fourth consecutive NWC title.
Whitworth finished 16-3-3 last season and advanced to the NCAA Division III elite eight after winning its fifth conference title in six years. The Pirates will have to overcome the graduation of 2009 NWC MVP Elly Bulega, along with defensive standout Bryan Olson. First team All-NWC midfielder Justin Meyer and second team All-NWC midfielder Cameron Bushey return. Pacific Lutheran and Pacific each received one of the other first place votes with PLU edging the Boxers in the poll, 55 points to 52.
The Lutes return a potent offense led by first team All-NWC forward Chad Kearns and second team All-NWC forward Spencer Augustin, who combined to score 20 goals last season -- more than any other NWC combo. Pacific will rely on the stout defense of senior keeper Andrew Stevermer, the 2009 NWC Defensive MVP. Mike Iacolucci, an All-NWC forward, will lead the Boxers' attack.
Puget Sound is fourth in the poll with 37 points. The Loggers' always-tough defense will be led by second team All-NWC defender Ben Coffey. Linfield is fifth in the poll with 27 points. Michael Camacho, a second team All-NWC forward in 2009, returns for his senior season. Willamette (25 points) is followed by Whitman (23 points) in sixth and seventh place, respectively. Willamette returns Erick Kaufman, who scored nine goals last fall. Whitman welcomes back standout defender Cooper Crosby. George Fox is eighth in the poll with 10 points. The Bruins look for improvement behind defender Peter Luginbill.
The season gets underway Sept. 1.