Whitman and Willamette Both Named Top Teams in 2018 Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Whitman and Willamette Both Named Top Teams in 2018 Preseason Coaches’ Poll


Rk. Team Pts. 2017 Record (NWC)
T-1 Whitman 39 (2) 8-3-3
T-1 Willamette 39 (3) 9-3-2
T-3 Pacific Lutheran 38 (1) 9-3-2
T-3 Whitworth 38 (2) 8-5-1
5 Puget Sound 29 8-5-1
6 George Fox 18 3-10-1
7 Pacific (Ore.) 12 5-8-1
8 Linfield 11 0-13-1

(Points awarded on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches could not vote for their own teams; numbers in parentheses indicate first place votes)

HILLSBORO, Ore. - The Whitman Blues and the Willamette Bearcats have both been selected as top contenders in the 2018 Northwest Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll.

Whitman finished the 2017 season ranked third in the NWC final standings with an overall record of 9-7-3, and a conference record of 8-3-3. The Blues' season included a 2-0 win and a 2-2 tie with NWC champion Pacific Lutheran, as well as a pair of 1-1 ties with co-champion Willamette. Noah Cavanagh (Seattle, Wash.) was named the NWC Defensive Player of the Year and received a NCAA All-West Region nod as well.

The Blues placed four athletes on the All-NWC Team, including Cavanaugh's First Team recognition, with teammates CJ Fritz (Bend, Ore.) being named All-NWC Second Team, and Ridley Eastland-Fruit (Kenmore, Wash.), and Gabe Jacobson (Mercer Island, Wash.) earning Honorable Mention. Fritz returns a junior in 2018 to lead the Blues in an attempt at a post-season run.

The Willamette Bearcats finished the 2017 season tied for first place with Pacific Lutheran in conference standings, completing the season with an overall record of 10-7-2 (9-3-2 NWC) and the team's first NWC title in program history.  The Bearcats secured the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament by claiming the tie-breaker with Pacific Lutheran on the strength of a better record versus third-place Whitman. The team traveled to Trinity University in San Antonio, Tex. where they were matched with Mary Harden-Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Regional. The Bearcats were edged in the first round, 1-0 in a hard-fought battle.  

Max Berner-Hays (Seattle, Wash.) was named NWC Freshman of the Year, placing him on the All-NWC First Team alongside teammate Alan Hernandez (Tigard, Ore.). Nicholas Ballenger Salem, Ore.), and Sodai Takayanagi (Mariokashi, Japan) each earned Second Team nods. Head Coach Lloyd Fobi was also named NWC Coach of the Year. In addition to his All-NWC First Team recognition, Hernandez was also named to the All-West Region Third Team. The Bearcats return for the 2018 season eager to fight for their second NWC title.

Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth tied for third in the preseason poll standings, just one point behind the first-place recipients with 38 each. The Lutes, who tied with Willamette for first in NWC final standings, named five athletes to the All-NWC team, including Offensive Player of the Year and 2018 graduate Eddie Na (University Place, Wash.). Na, along with returners RJ Noll (Yelm, Wash.) and Joe Sammartino (Boise, Idaho) both earned First Team nods while Keegan Dolan (Auburn, Wash.) and Emmanual Saah (Auburn, Wash.) both earned Honorable Mention recognition.

The Pirates finished the NWC final standings for the 2017 season tied for fifth with Puget Sound, each recording a conference record of 8-5-1, with an overall record of 10-8-1. The team recorded the highest number of athletes with All-NWC First Team honors at four. Austin Cassity (Camas, Wash.), Eric Espinoza (San Jose, Calif.), Jonah Snyder (Burlingame, Calif.) and Moi Diaz (McMinnville, Ore.) were all named first team recipients. Teammates Kyle Morris (Ridgefield, Wash.) and Kyle Cacoyannis (Santa Clara, Calif.) each earned All-NWC Second Team, while Micah Weller (Cheney, Wash.) was named an Honorable Mention recipient.

In fifth place is the Puget Sound Loggers, who tallied a total of 29 points. The Loggers, who tied with Whitworth in 2017 final standings, finished the season with a 10-6-1 overall record (8-5-1 NWC) while placing six athletes on the All-NWC team. Zac Lokay (Boulder, Colo.), Luke Murdock (Boise, Idaho) and Ezra Kraus (Harvard, Mass.) all earned All-NWC Second Team recognition. Benjamin Whitham (Claremont, Calif.), Stefan Jensen (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Sky Guegan (Boulder, Colo.) were all Honorable Mention recipients.

George Fox places sixth in the poll with 18 points. Capping off the 2017 season ranked seventh in final conference standings, the Bruins recorded a 3-6-1 overall record, with a conference record of 3-10-1. Forward Daniel Alonzo (Boulder, Colo) was named an All-NWC Honorable Mention recipient. The Bruins welcome 11 first-year athletes to their roster, as well as head coach Biniam Afenegus, for the 2018 season.

Pacific (Ore.) takes seventh place in the poll with 12 points. The team finished the 2017 season with an overall record of 8-9-1, with a conference record of 5-8-1 and a sixth-place finish in NWC final standings. The Boxers had two all-conference recognitions, with Matt Kimball (Tigard, Ore.) named to the All-NWC First Team, and teammate Leyton Thommasen (Des Moines, Wash.) named an All-NWC Second Team selection.

Linfield rounds out the poll in eighth-place, collecting 11 points. The team recorded a final record of 2-15-1 in the 2017 season, with a conference record of 0-13-1. Wildcat Ryan Kister (Portland, Ore.) was named to the All-NWC Second Team, with teammate Isaias Flores (McMinnville, Ore.) as an Honorable Mention selection.

NWC men's soccer regular season play will begin on August 31st, with all eight NWC teams participating in non-conference matchups.