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St. Scholastica unanimous favorite in UMAC women's soccer

UMAC Information

ST. PAUL – The College of St. Scholastica, winner of 10 straight Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) regular season women's soccer titles, was again selected to claim the conference trophy in 2014. The Saints were the unanimous favorite in the annual preseason coaches' poll and will look to extend their streak to 11 consecutive titles this season.

2014 UMAC Women's Soccer Coaches' Poll

1. 49 Points – College of St. Scholastica (7 First Place Votes)

2. 43 Points – University of Minnesota Morris (1)

3. 32 Points - University of Northwestern

4. 26 Points – Martin Luther College

5. 25 Points – Bethany Lutheran College

6. 21 Points – Northland College

7. 20 Points – Crown College

8. 8 Points – North Central University

1. College of St. Scholastica Saints

2013 Overall Record: 18-3-1

2013 UMAC Record: 14-0

2013 UMAC Finish: 1st

Starters Returning: 5

Starters Lost: 6

The St. Scholastica women's soccer team has won 10 straight UMAC regular season championships and have made the NCAA Division III Tournament six of the last seven seasons.

Up front, the Saints return three-time UMAC Offensive Player of the Year Kelsey Kehtel. Kehtel is the program record-holder for career goals (70), including 19 game-winning goals. She is only eight points shy of Robin Johnson's record of 168 career points. Also returning for the Saints is senior midfielder and second team All-UMAC selection Casey Mitchell. Mitchell was fourth on the team with 12 goals and 33 points last season. Second-leading scorer from 2013 Leah Hamm also is back. Hamm scored 15 goals and added 10 assists in her sophomore campaign.

Head Coach Dave Reyelts will have holes to fill in the midfield and back line as the Saints lose five players from those spots, including first team all-region selection and UMAC Defensive Player of the Year Logan Williamson. Of the eight Saints to be named to the top two All-UMAC teams, only three return.

The Saints do return goalkeeper Kelsey Reeves, who missed a portion of last season due to injury. The second team All-UMAC choice went on to record eight shutouts in 13 starts in 2013. CSS also welcomes back defender Alexi Bopray, who missed most of last season due to an injury sustained in the second game of the season.

2. University of Minnesota Morris Cougars

2013 Overall Record: 13-6

2013 UMAC Record: 11-3

2013 UMAC Finish: 2nd

Starters Returning: 9

Starters Lost: 2

The Cougars, who reached the UMAC Finals last season, return most of the 2013 squad. The top five scorers from a year ago are back this season. Most of the defense will stay intact which should help a pair of second year net-minders this season.

In total Minnesota Morris returns seven All-UMAC players. UMAC First Team players Carly Denler, Rachael Berns, Meaghan Delaney and Emma LaChance are all back. LaChance led the team in scoring in 2013 with 14 goals and three assists. Denler added 12 goals and four assists and was named UMAC Co-Rookie of the Year setting a school record for the Cougars in the process. Berns was also a contributor to the Cougar offense last season adding 10 goals and six assists.

A new group of players will come in and add depth to the midfield and create a more dynamic look for the Cougars in 2014.

3. University of Northwestern Eagles

2013 Overall Record: 6-13-1

2013 UMAC Record: 5-8-1

2013 UMAC Finish: 5th

Starters Returning: 8

Starters Lost: 3

Northwestern starts its campaign transitioning onto a new playing surface that will feature some games under the lights at night. Fresh artificial turf and plenty of incoming players puts a positive twist on the 2014 season. Bringing back eight of last year's starters, UNW's upperclassmen are looking to lead strongly and develop team unity that will be evident on the pitch.

Sarah Scinto will enter her final year in uniform as a co-captain. The midfielder wrapped up the 2013 season with two goals on 16 shots, 15 of them on goal while starting all 20 of Northwestern's games. Losing forward Lauren Cleope left a hole in the offense, but Scinto will be backed by freshmen Emily Goeppinger, Kimberly Lindsay, and Aislinn Kavanagh up front, hopefully making the Purple and Gold's offense a strong force.

Senior Sara Kallhoff returns with an all-conference honorable mention under her belt. Starting in all 17 of the games she played in, Kallhoff scored one goal last year. She'll pair with Scinto as co-captain to lead the Eagles defense after spending most of last season as a midfielder. This will give Northwestern more experience after losing goalkeepers Sarah Stenson and Emily Johnson, a gap that head coach Josh Pettit will have to fill.

4. Martin Luther College Knights

2013 Overall Record: 12-8

2013 UMAC Record: 10-4

2013 UMAC Finish: 3rd

Starters Returning: 5

Starters Lost: 6

The 2014 Martin Luther College women's soccer team is looking to build off last season's 12-8 campaign that saw the program return to the top half of the UMAC standings and the conference tournament for the first time with a 10-4 conference record.

The Knights return five starters from last season, and must replace a group of veterans such as 2013 UMAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year Bethany Schultz. Leading the charge among the returners is 2013 UMAC Co-Rookie of the Year Jenna Maurer, who tied for the team lead with 16 goals as a freshman. Maurer also finished second on the team last year with six assists, 83 shots and 55 shots on goal. She will be joined up front by returners Lauren Maertz and Alyssa Maertz. Lauren Maertz finished last season with six goals and 13 total points, while Alyssa Maertz was named Second Team All-UMAC as a midfielder after scoring two goals and finishing with five total points.

MLC must replace a number of key veterans on defense, with only 2013 Honorable Mention All-UMAC performer Rachel Naumann returning from last season's starting line-up. Naumann will be key in holding down opposing offenses in front of returning goalkeeper Keely Keese, who played in 19 games last season and finished with a goals against average of 2.77 and 93 saves.

5. Bethany Lutheran College Vikings

2013 Overall Record: 5-11-3

2013 UMAC Record: 4-8-2

2013 UMAC Finish: 6th

Starters Returning: 6

Starters Lost: 5

Last year's Bethany Vikings women's soccer season was plagued by injuries to key veteran leaders on the team. A season of high hopes quickly spiraled into a rebuilding year that saw several freshman thrust into starting duties. Those learning moments of 2013 could pay dividends this year as the Vikings return 11 players with starting experience.

The Vikings welcome a strong and diverse group of eight newcomers this fall. Included in the group are a pair of goalkeepers who will vie for starting duties, two forwards, two midfielders, and two defenders, all of whom look to make an immediate impact.

Offensively, the Vikings will look to senior Taylor Friehl along with a trio of talented freshman to carry the scoring load. The midfield will feature a veteran core with six returnees led by Second Team All-UMAC performer Bridget Hennen who switches back to her natural position. Defensively, the Vikings will be young but very talented with a fast and aggressive group led by All-UMAC Honorable Mention honoree Abby Goss.

6. Northland College LumberJills

2013 Overall Record: 9-8-3

2013 UMAC Record: 5-7-2

2013 UMAC Finish: 4th

Starters Returning: 6

Starters Lost: 3

The 2014 LumberJills team will be led by returning captains Natalie Absil, Lynn Dohrmann and Maddie Wieland who create an environment of competitiveness within the team that finished fourth in the conference last season. Wieland, a sophomore, led the team in scoring last season with 11 goals on the year.

First-year head coach Jessica Griggs is pleased to announce an incoming class of 9 freshman and 1 transfer student.

Al Ritchie, the lone transfer, was an all-star track athlete at Sheboygan North (WI) and will be adding a level of athleticism and speed to the LumberJills squad.

Also joining the Jills are Laura Rethmann, Maddie Erie, Sara Jeffers, Jane Kittaka, Shona Aird, Heather Jensen, Marisa Ulman, Emily Romuald and Olivia Garceau. Rethman, (Nashville, Tenn.) and Erie (Red Wing, Minn.) both have four years of varsity experience and numerous accolades on their resumes. Unfortunately, Garceau will miss the 2014 season due to injury.

With a strong incoming class joining the returners the Jills hope to return to the conference tournament again in 2014.

7. Crown College Storm

2013 Overall Record: 5-13-1

2013 UMAC Record: 3-10-1

2013 UMAC Finish: 7th

Starters Returning: 10

Starters Lost: 1

Megan Wright, Sam Samsa, and Mary Voss headline a strong group of experienced returners for a Storm team that will welcome back 10 starters from a year ago. Erin Ebbers will lead the back line, while coach Jamie Ross has two quality keepers to choose from in Emily Kirby and Hillary Brondsema.

Coach Ross is expecting solid contributions from four or five newcomers, giving Crown more depth than they've had in previous years to go with a very experienced core. The Storm have been building to this season for three years and with an experienced lineup who have been through multiple UMAC seasons, they hope this is the year they break in to the conference tournament.

8. North Central University Rams

2013 Overall Record: 4-17

2013 UMAC Record: 1-13

2013 UMAC Finish: 8th

Starters Returning: 8

Starters Lost: 3

North Central comes into the year with little turnover in the ranks, but a few key roles will be up for grabs as the Rams head into camp. They will return eight of their starting 11 from 2013 and add depth with a few key recruits. The Rams will look to get more offense from their returning front line, while looking for incoming players to help bolster the young defensive line.

Senior Rachel Parson returns to the team to anchor the defense from the sweeper spot for the third straight year. Senior Captain Jen Sargent looks to partner with returning juniors Karlee Hoover and Shelby Norman who led the team in scoring last year. Incoming freshman, Breanna Ritter (Austin, Minn.) should make an offensive impact this year.

Freshman Becca Hammond (Cloquet, Minn.) will look to help fill the hole in the center midfield left by graduating senior Marrissa Dean. A pair of recruits at the forward position should help a Rams offense that struggled with just five goals in UMAC play last season while returners Callie Shehorn and Megan Kaczmarek look to make an impact this season.

UMAC teams will kick off their season starting Friday, Aug. 29 with the conference season beginning on Sept. 16. An automatic berth to the NCAA Championships will be on the line again for the winner of the UMAC Women's Soccer Tournament.

Brooke Kern

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