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August 21, 2019

Women's Preseason Top 25

To whet your appetite until our full panel weighs in on September 10 informed by results from Labor weekend and the first full week of the 2019 season we are publishing a Preseason Top 25, which is a daunting and, without safety in numbers, perilous task. This exercise is informed by data, but assumptions have to be made and judgment inevitably is required. While viewing this ranking keep in mind, “figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” Some notes and thoughts about our process, warts and all, can be found at the bottom of this page after the rankings.

1. Williams 2018:   No. 1  |  19-1-4 (.875)  |  SoS .653
  The defending champions return most of the side that reached the top of the mountain for the third time in four years last season. The Ephs return nearly all their offensive production (almost 90% of goals and points) led by junior All-American Sydney Jones. While All-New England GK Olivia Barnhill graduated, the back line including senior All-American Sarah Kelly will be back. The Ephs will certainly want to send off Coach Pinard with yet another title to cap her career at Williams.
2. Messiah 2018:   No. 5  |  19-1-2 (.909)  |  SoS .573
  An incredible model of consistent excellence, the Falcons are the only women’s team to have finished in the top 10 in each Final Top 25 since 2010 and in the top 5 every year except one; 2019 should be no different. Seven 2018 seniors have departed; including four starters (39% of starts). The biggest hole to plug will be that left by USC Player of the Year and D3soccer.com Defender of the Year, DJ Cole. Falcon fans, don’t despair, the cupboard, as usual, is full. More than 80% of the offense returns led by All-American Brooke Firestone. In addition to Firestone, the seven-strong senor class also features first-team All-Region D Barb Foster and M Sunny Gelnovatch.
3. TCNJ 2018:   No. 7  |  15-1-2 (.889)  |  SoS .624
  The Lions leapfrog five teams ranked above them in our 2018 Final Poll. They return nearly everyone from last year’s squad which had a lone senior who accounted for three goals and an assist. The entire defense led by All-American Faith Eichenour and backstopped by 2017 All-American Nicole DiPasquale is expected to return. They gave Williams all they could handle in the Sweet 16 last season before falling short 4-3 in a PK shootout.
4. Christopher Newport 2018:   No. 4  |  21-2-0 (.913)  |  SoS .585
  The Captains return 10 of 11 starters from last season’s program-best squad. BUT … the lone 2018 senior starter, Gabby Gillis, First Team All-American and D3soccer.com Midfield of the Year, accounted for roughly a quarter of the 2018 offense. However, the roster has a sizeable experienced group of rising juniors and seniors back for 2019, led by All-American F Riley Cook up top and All-Region GK Haley Eiser and D Keily McCarthy anchoring the defense.
5. Middlebury 2018:   No. 3  |  19-2-3 (.854)  |  SoS .625
  Players accounting for one-third of starts for the 2018 national finalist have graduated. Similarly, to Williams, the Panthers return players accounting for nearly 90% of their 2018 offensive production. The core of a stellar defense, excepting All-American D Janie DeVito, returns led by First Team All-New England GK Ursula Alwang. A key challenge will be reinforcing the midfield with the departure of All-American Claire Robinson and All-Region Amanda Dafonte.
6. Wheaton (Ill.) 2018:   No. 1  |  19-4-1 (.813)  |  SoS .629
  The Thunder are coming off their best season in several years. While they are a young team with only three seniors, the rising sophomores and juniors were the main drivers of success in 2018. Eight seniors, who contributed 28% of starts and 20% of goals and points, graduated from the 2018 squad. All defensive starters, led by All-American Sarah Tomich, and the keeper are back. The loss of All-Region M Maddie Peebles will be felt, but All-Region sophomores M Aeva Graber and D Nicole Wright are back with a year of seasoning.
7. William Smith 2018:   No. 6  |  17-3-1 (.833)  |  SoS .638
  Much like Messiah, the Herons are found in our top 10 nearly every season and, given the profile of returning players, that streak looks to remain intact. All-American Megan Barwick will no longer be roaming the pitch, but a strong, experienced contingent of rising juniors and seniors is returning. Two-thirds of the offense is back, and while three-year starter GK Amy Romines’ will need to be replaced, most of the back line returns including All-East Region D’s Emily Sauvayre and Maialen Martinez.
8. Washington U. 2018:   No. 2  |  21-1-0 (.955)  |  SoS .649
  Considering the entire body of work, the Bears could lay claim to being the best D-III women’s’ side in 2018. Graduation losses were deep for Wash U. Players accounting for 45% of starts and 40% of offensive production graduated. Included were first-team All-Americans M Maggie Crist, M Darcy Cunningham, and D Hannah Menard. The 2019 team will be on the young side with only two rostered seniors. All is not lost for the Bears as All- American F Taylor Cohen and All-Region GK Emma Greenfield lead a solid core of returnees primed to fill some big boots.
9. Centre 2018:   No. 11  |  21-1-0 (.955)  |  SoS .559
  The 2018 Colonels were a young side that returned to the Top 25 after a one-year absence. A sizable group of rising juniors and seniors accounted for 81% of starts and 85% of a high scoring attack. The entire defense, which yielded a meager 0.32 goals per game is also back. Centre also boasts an impressive group of 2018 USC honorees led by All-Americans M Averi Faulk and D Jessie Turner; while F Alana Hughes, M Meghan Paynter, and GK Sarah Stodghill received All-Region recognition.
10. Johns Hopkins 2018:   No. 15  |  18-3-0 (.857)  |  SoS .632
  Another blueblood, the Blue Jays have regularly appeared in our Top 25 nearly every season, typically in the top ten. Five seniors have moved on, but a sizable group of almost thirty returnees contributed more than 70% of starts, goals, and points in 2018. The midfield looks solid with All-American Maggie Coulson and All-Region Emily Maheras. Centennial Rookie of the Year Rachel Jackson and Coulson should offset, at least in part, the graduation of leading scorer Michelle Santangelo. There is work to do on the back line where they must replace three contributors (two starters including All-Region D Cristina Madalo)
11. Amherst 2018:   No. 14  |  15-3-2 (.800)  |  SoS .620
  In 2018 the Mammoths bounced back from a disappointing 2017 campaign. To avoid dropping down, or out, of the 2019 poll Amherst must answer the question of how to replace the offensive firepower of the 2018 senior class. Three of the six women were starters. All-American F and NESCAC leading scorer Rubii Tamen alone tallied 16 goals, while the seniors combined for 47% of the Mammoths’ 49 goals. On the plus side of the ledger, the defense returns intact led by All-Region senior D Isabella Palma and the roster boasts a large squad of upperclassmen numbering 17 juniors and seniors.
12. Chicago 2018:   No. 22  |  13-5-1 (.711)  |  SoS .620
  The Maroons ended the 2018 season on an unprecedented four match losing streak which led to a steep drop in our rankings. On closer examination, one loss was at WashU; there’s no shame in that. Two others were one-goal contests where the Maroons outshot the opponent by a combined 58/11 margin with 24/5 on frame. The 2018 five-woman senior class led by All-American and D3soccer.com 2017 Midfielder of the Year Jenna McKinney contributed one-fifth of starts, goals, and assists; plenty of firepower will be back. All-American D Mackenzie Peebles and All-Region M Hanna Watkins will lead a considerable crew of nine seniors, including six 2018 starters.
13. Stevens 2018:   No. 21  |  16-3-0 (.842)  |  SoS .586
  After not reaching our Top 25 in 2017, the Ducks returned with a youthful roster of sixteen first-years and sophomores and only six upperclassmen. The four seniors, all starters including All-Region M Olivia Butera, provided 26% of starts and nearly a quarter of offensive production. The 2019 version of the Ducks will again be young with only two very experienced seniors, including All-American M Julia Panko, who have combined for more than 100 starts. Stevens returns most of their offense and 90% of starts along with an accomplished (0.63 Goals per Game) defense led by All-Region D Gianna Nitti.
14. Swarthmore 2018:   No. 13  |  17-3-2 (.818)  |  SoS .641
  The Garnet first appeared in our Final Top 25 at the end of the 2015 season and repeated the next three years. There were five seniors in the Swarthmore ’19 Class; all were starters including three-time All-American F Marin McCoy, three defenders, and the goalkeeper. McCoy on her own accounted for one quarter of the Garnet’s 2018 goals and points. Moving on, in addition to McCoy, are D’s Yasmeen Namazie and Melissa Curran who earned All-Region honors. In the midfield, All-Region senior Sydney Covitz will lead a roster on the young side in a campaign to continue the Garnet’s recent run.
15. Hardin-Simmons 2018:   No. 10  |  18-1-2 (.905)  |  SoS .563
  The Cowgirls are one of five programs to have appeared in all nine of our Final Top 25 rankings. Their seven-woman senior class accounted for 43% of starts in 2018, roughly 40% of the offense, half the midfield starts and the three-year starter at keeper. Graduating impact players include All-American and 2017 D3soccer.com Forward of the Year, Kenne Kessler, All-American D Sarah Krisa, and All-Region M Josey Meyer. Behind Kessler in offensive contribution were two first-year F’s who likely will be even more dangerous with a year’s added experience while All-Region D Kendell Groom will lead the defense.
16. MIT 2018:   No. 19  |  17-3-3 (.804)  |  SoS .589
  After advancing past the first round of the tournament the past two seasons, the Engineers were included in our Final Top 25 in both 2017 and 2018. The six-player senior class, instrumental in this success, accounted for 40% of starts with four full time and one part-time starter in 2018. On the attack MIT return the bulk of their scoring but will have to shore up the defense which has to replace the starting keeper and All-Region D Hailey Nichols, and her five goals (three game winners). All American M Sophia Struckman leads the seven-strong senior class, each with considerable 2018 playing time, and expectations of continuing their run of success.
17. Trinity (Texas) 2018:   No. 18  |  17-2-1 (.875)  |  SoS .548
  The Tigers are one of the five programs which have appeared in all our Final Top 25’s but last year was their lowest finish since D3soccer.com began publishing a Top 25 in 2010. Eight seniors were on the 2018 roster with three full-time starters; all were attacking players who delivered 45 goals (62% of the team total). Trinity had two first-team All-Americans last year: leading scorer senior Chelsea Cole and returning D Kristen Canepa, one of two seniors on the 2019 team.
18. Ill. Wesleyan 2018:   No. 24  |  14-5-2 (.714)  |  SoS .599
  After a somewhat down year in 2016 following their outstanding 2014 (Final Four) and 2015 seasons (Sweet Sixteen), the Titans re-entered our Top 25 in 2017 and repeated last year. The 2018 Titans had only two seniors on the roster; the lone senior starter was All-Region M Rosie Pettenuzzo whose nine goals and three assists represented 19% and 12% of goals and assists respectively. Leading scorer and All-Region F Flower Edington returns up top while All-Region D Dellie Crabtree anchors the defense. The 2019 roster is deep; from the 2018 squad are seven players with 20+ starts, 4 with 13-to 15 and four more with at least 5.
19. Misericordia 2018:   No. 12  |  17-3-2 (.818)  |  SoS .575
  The Cougars will be challenged to match their 2018 ranking as they graduated a six-player class, five of whom were starters. Together this class represented 46% of starts, one-third of goals and points and three starters on the back line. With the departures of All-American D Kristen Ritter along with All-Region M Hannah Larkin and F Ashley Edgell, Misericordia’s losses were among the more material in the Top 25. GK Alexis Benedetto, third-team All-Region is the only returning player who earned USC recognition.
20. Lynchburg 2018:   No. 9  |  20-3-3 (.827)  |  SoS .601
  The Hornets are the last of five programs to have appeared in all nine Final Top 25 rankings. After their best season since the 2014 championship, Lynchburg has a massive amount of production to replace across the entire pitch. Last season’s twelve player senior class recorded approximately three-fourths of starts, goals, and points. The keeper and three back line starters have also graduated. Replacements will need to step up for headliner and All-American and D3soccer.com Forward of the Year Caitlin Mertens, along with All American D Katie Waring and All-Region M’s Kennedy Jakubek and Kara Rombough.
21. Loras 2018:   No. 25  |  17-4-0 (.810)  |  SoS .574
  The DuHawks returned to the Top 25 in 2017 after a three-year hiatus and repeated last season. Only 18% of starts and a bit less than one-third of the offense came from a three-player senior class with All-Region performers F Gretchen Schutz and M Elizabeth Mills. All-Region M Jenny Wick returns to lead an eight-strong rising senior class with six 2018 starters. Offensively, Loras return three-fourths of their goals. Now mostly juniors and seniors, the entire defense returns and will look to improve on their 1.3 goals allowed per game.
22. Ithaca 2018:   No. N/R  |  14-2-4 (.800)  |  SoS .575
  The Bombers have not appeared in our Final Top 25 since a very successful four year run from 2011 to 2014. Loras gained the 25th spot by a mere two points over Ithaca last season. Six seniors, three of whom were starters, accounted for 30% of starts generating a quarter of the offense. Now, coming off their most successful campaign since 2013, a large, experienced group of eight juniors and eight seniors including All-American F Alex Epifani and All-Region M Gabriella Mihale, look poised to break into our rankings.
23. Otterbein 2018:   No. N/R  |  17-3-1 (.833)  |  SoS .545
  In 2018 Otterbein recorded its most successful season since the 2010 Final Four squad. While eight seniors and four starters finished their playing careers, the Cardinals boast plenty of experience; with nineteen juniors and seniors on the 2019 roster, they have the most upperclassmen of all teams we evaluated in depth. The returning bunch created 85% of the attack and accounted for two-thirds of appearances. All-American M Bella Shively and All-Region Priscilla Severance are back to lead the offense. After conceding 11 times in two early-season blowouts, the defense settled in and only surrendered 11 more over the final 17 matches. The return of All-Region D Katie Best should help maintain that level of performance.
24. Rowan 2018:   No. N/R  |  13-4-2 (.737)  |  SoS .547
  After a three-year run of appearances, the Profs just missed the Top 25 last year with the third-highest total in the “Receiving Votes” group. Last season’s five seniors included three starters with 28% of starts and provided 22% of the attack. Rowan’s returning defenders will have to step up with All-American GK Shelby Money and All-Region Ali Hicks having moved on. The Prof’s 2018 productive offense should continue to deliver with the return of prolific All-Region scorers F Daria Jones and M Darah Wagner who combined for 40% of the team’s tallies.
25. Tufts 2018:   No. N/R  |  11-6-2 (.632)  |  SoS .630
  In the analysis, three sides from the two premier conferences vie for the final spot in our Top 25: Brandeis, Emory, and Tufts. Of the three, only the Jumbos have never appeared in our Final Top 25. In 2018 all three had nearly identical records against a similar strength of schedule. Each had large graduating classes, including five or six starters. Tufts has the most to replace on the defensive end, but while Tufts returns all its scoring, Emory and Brandeis lost 25% and 40% respectively. Emory had a better goal differential, 1.6 per game while Brandeis and Tufts were at 1.1 and 0.9 respectively. Tufts returns three All-Region honorees including two first-team; Emory has two and Brandeis one second-team All-Region player. You could cover them all with a small hat, but Tufts has a slight edge on the “impact player” dimension.

  • Dropped out of Final 2018 Top 25: Emory, Hope, St. Thomas, UW-La Crosse. These four schools suffered these most substantial losses to graduation of the Final 2018 Top 25 teams. Each lost 50% or more of Starts, Offense (goals, points or both), defender matches played, all or nearly all their All-American/All-Region honorees and had more than an average number of graduating seniors.
  • Also strongly considered for 2019 Preseason Top 25: In addition to the above: Brandeis, Farmingdale State, Grove City, Scranton, RIT, Virginia Wesleyan

Methodology, Caveats, and Comments:

  • This is NOT a poll; it is the, somewhat informed, opinion of the writer.
  • The primary source of our player statistical information is from the NCAA Soccer Statistics databases which have occasional reliability glitches but are the only comprehensive source of detailed D-III individual statistics.
  • Our D3soccer.com databases were mined for team-related statistical data such as annual W-L-T records, Goal For and Against per Game and NCAA Final Strength of Schedule.
  • We assume all players listed as seniors on the 2018 rosters have graduated and will not return for the 2019 season. Of course, there are a few rare exceptions each year.
  • We assume all underclassmen on the 2018 roster will return which of course is only directionally correct, but it’s safe to think that most, excepting serious injury, of the attrition will be at the end of the bench and of a limited impact going forward.
  • We do not attempt to evaluate incoming recruiting classes. However, we do recognize that some programs perform at a consistently high level over many years and assume that these programs are more likely to “reload rather than rebuild.”
  • You will note we refer to the United Soccer Coaches All-American and All-Region honors for the 2018 season in our commentary rather than D3soccer.com’s All-American. We recognize 33 All-Americans while USC has 49 All-Americans and another 307 on one of the All-Region teams. The larger sample provides insight into more impact players at the school team level.
  • A comparative analysis of a few critical metrics for the teams who were in the 2018 Final Top 25 and “Receiving Votes.”

Metric

Average

Minimum

Maximum

 2018 Seniors

6

1

12

 Starts

35%

9%

77%

 Goals

33%

0%

75%

 All-Americans

1.7

0

4

 All-Region (incl. AA)

3.6

2

5


Comments or feedback?  E-mail us.

Friday, Sep. 20: All times Eastern
M:
11:00 AM
Yeshiva at SUNY-Old Westbury
M:
Final
at Covenant 2, Piedmont 0
Box Score Recap
M:
Final
Washington and Lee 4, at Bridgewater (Va.) 0
Video Box Score Recap
M:
4:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Shenandoah
Live stats
M:
Final
Grace Christian (Mich.) 2, at Mount St. Joseph 0
Video Box Score
M:
2nd half - 42:43
0 Bridgewater State
0 MCLA
Video Live stats
M:
6:00 PM
Bluffton at Blackburn
M:
2nd Half
0 Greenville
4 Hope
Video Live stats
M:
1st half - 15:04
0 Emmanuel
4 Norwich
Video Live stats
M:
1st Half
0 Pfeiffer
0 Maryville (Tenn.)
Video Live stats
M:
7:00 PM
Wesley at Rosemont
Live stats
M:
7:00 PM
Worcester State at Massachusetts Maritime
Video Live stats
M:
1st half - 45:00
0 Anderson
0 Oglethorpe
Video Live stats
M:
1st half - 41:02
0 Grove City
0 Carnegie Mellon
Live stats Video
M:
1st half - 41:41
0 Roanoke
0 Berry
Live stats
M:
1st half - 38:59
0 Virginia Wesleyan
0 Randolph-Macon
Live stats Video
M:
7:00 PM
Skidmore at Union
M:
7:00 PM
Chicago at Loras
Video Live stats
M:
1st half - 45:00
0 Wilmington
0 Franklin
Video Live stats
M:
8:00 PM
Crown at Nebraska Wesleyan
M:
8:00 PM
Fontbonne at Texas-Dallas
Video Live stats
M:
8:00 PM
Calvin at Carthage
Video Live stats
M:
8:00 PM
Colorado College at Texas Lutheran
Video Live stats
M:
8:00 PM
Centenary (La.) at St. Thomas (Texas)
M:
8:00 PM
Schreiner at University of Dallas
Video Live stats
M:
8:00 PM
Washington U. at Wheaton (Ill.)
Video Live stats
M:
8:30 PM
Millsaps at East Texas Baptist
M:
9:00 PM
Johnson and Wales-Denver at Southwestern
Video Live stats
M:
10:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz at Cal St. Monterey Bay
Video
W:
2:00 PM
Principia at St. Mary-Woods
W:
Final
Albertus Magnus 3, at Simmons 0
Video Box Score Recap Recap
W:
Final
Birmingham-Southern 6, at Tenn. Wesleyan 2
Video Box Score Recap
W:
Final
Hood 5, at St. Elizabeth 0
Box Score Recap
W:
Final
at Olivet 2, Manchester 0
Box Score Recap
W:
Final
at Framingham State 3, Fitchburg State 2
Video Box Score Recap
W:
4:30 PM
Hollins at Patrick Henry College
W:
5:00 PM
Iowa Wesleyan at Alverno
W:
Final
at Trinity (Texas) 6, Texas Lutheran 0
Video
W:
6:00 PM
Millsaps at Judson (AL)
W:
2nd half - 45:00
0 Schreiner
0 University of Dallas
Video Live stats
W:
6:00 PM
Centenary (La.) at St. Thomas (Texas)
W:
1st half - 45:00
0 Ohio Wesleyan
0 Hope
Video Live stats
W:
1st half - 44:13
0 Mary Baldwin
0 Wesleyan (Ga.)
Video Live stats
W:
7:00 PM
Yeshiva at Manhattanville
W:
7:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live stats
W:
7:00 PM
Johnson & Wales (NC) at Randolph
W:
1st half - 40:54
0 Johnson and Wales-Denver
0 Southwestern
Video Live stats
W:
7:00 PM
Out Lady of the Lake at Concordia (Texas)
W:
7:00 PM
Christopher Newport at Mary Hardin-Baylor
W:
7:30 PM
Ohio Northern at Case Western Reserve
Video Live stats
W:
8:00 PM
Austin at LeTourneau
W:
8:00 PM
Grove City at Hardin-Simmons
Live stats
W:
8:00 PM
Lake Forest at North Park
Video Live stats
W:
8:00 PM
Augustana at Simpson
Video Live stats
W:
8:00 PM
Northwestern (Minn.) at Augsburg
Video Live stats
W:
8:30 PM
Fontbonne at Washington U.
W:
9:00 PM
Piedmont at McMurry
Friday, Sep. 20: All times Eastern
M:
Final
Washington and Lee 4, at Bridgewater (Va.) 0
Video Box Score Recap
M:
7:00 PM
Chicago at Loras
Video Live stats
M:
8:00 PM
Calvin at Carthage
Video Live stats
Friday, Sep. 20: All times Eastern
W:
Final
at Trinity (Texas) 6, Texas Lutheran 0
Video
W:
7:00 PM
Christopher Newport at Mary Hardin-Baylor
W:
7:30 PM
Ohio Northern at Case Western Reserve
Video Live stats
W:
8:30 PM
Fontbonne at Washington U.