PLU Favored in Muddled Men's Soccer Field
|2011 NWC Men's Soccer Coaches' Pre-Season Poll:||2010 records|
|1. Pacific Lutheran (Wash.)||(2)||43||10-8-1||9-5|
|2. Pacific (Ore.)||(3)||40||14-3-3||10-2-2|
|3. Whitman (Wash.)||(1)||39||11-6-3||9-3-2|
|4. Whitworth (Wash.)||(2)||36||10-6-2||7-5-2|
|5. Puget Sound (Wash)||33||10-5-5||7-4-3|
|6. Linfield (Ore.)||21||8-9-1||7-7|
|7. Willamette (Ore.)||13||3-13-3||1-11-2|
|8. George Fox (Ore.)||10||0-15-2||0-13-1|
(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).
The only thing learned from reading the 2011 Northwest Conference men's soccer poll is that there is no clear-cut favorite this season. Pacific Lutheran leads a muddled field in which four different schools received first place votes and five are within only ten points of the top. The Lutes had two first place votes and 43 points in the poll to edge defending champion Pacific (Ore.) for the top spot.
PLU does have a lot going for it this fall, led by the return of NWC-leading scorer and 2010 Offensive Player of the Year Chad Kearns. Kearns teams with fellow senior forward Spencer Augustin to make the most potent scoring tandem in the NWC. Senior midfielder Surafel Wodajo was also a First Team All-NWC selection last season.
Pacific led the poll with three first place votes, but its point total of 40 dropped the Boxers to second place in the standing. Pacific will have to overcome the graduation of several important contributors to last season's conference title, not the least of which was two-time NWC Defensive Player of the Year Andrew Stevermer (GK). Senior midfielder Patrick Murray will lead the way in 2011.
Whitman finished only one game behind Pacific in last season's final standings and the Missionaries are only one point behind the Boxers in this year's poll (39 points) and had one first place vote. Senior midfielder Sam Freedman will be the leading returnee for Whitman.
Whitworth is fourth in the poll with 36 points and the Pirates gained the final two first place votes. Whitworth will welcome back six All-NWC players from a year ago, including three First Team selections in seniors Nate Spangler (D), Justin Meyer (MF) and Cameron Bushey (MF).
Puget Sound is fifth in the poll with 33 points. No NWC poll in any sport has ever had five teams within ten points of each other at the top of the list. The Loggers' stout defense will once again be anchored by junior goalkeeper Chris McDonald.
Linfield is sixth in the poll with 21 points. Junior Danny Snelgrow is the leading returning scorer for the Wildcats.
Willamette (13 points) is followed by George Fox (7 points) in seventh and eighth place, respectively. Willamette returns senior Brendan Dineen. George Fox is aiming to end a 17-match NWC winless streak.
The season gets underway on September 1st. All eight schools will be playing their first match on either the 1st or 2nd.