PRESEASON CONFERENCE RANKINGS
|137||Montana State Billings|
|200||South Dakota Mines|
Seattle Pacific Falcons
LOCATION: Seattle, Wash.
COACH: Mark Collins. Has won 80 games in seven seasons, leading Falcons to four straight NCAA tourney trips.
2014 RECORD: 16-2-2 overall; 12-1-1 GNAC
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost 1-0 in overtime to Cal State L.A. in regional final
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Stephen MacDonald (9 goals, 8 assists — led the Falcons in goals and assists).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M Danny Olivas (3 goals, 6 assists last year); Jr. F Jordan Thompson (5 goals, 1 assist); Jr. M Jordan Kollars (3 goals, 4 assists); Jr. GK Cody Lang (42 saves, 10 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: The Falcons have four of their top five scorers back and a goalie with valuable experience. Teams will have a tough time slowing down what should be one of the best all-around teams in the country.
Outlook: Seattle Pacific won a school-record 13 games a year ago. With the talent it has coming back, the Falcons could easily set a school record for wins again and be a legit contender for a national championship.
Northwest Nazarene Crusaders
LOCATION: Nampa, ID
COACH: Coe Michaelson. Led Crusaders to first NCAA tournament appearance last season, six years after the program was restarted at the school.
2014 RECORD:15-4-1 overall; 11-2-1 GNAC
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost 2-1 to Seattle Pacific in second round of NCAA tournament.
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. M Julio Castillo (1 goal, 9 assists — Named first-team All-American in 2014).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. F Erik Anderson (10 goals, 5 assists); Jr M Rene Duevel (5 goals, 2 assists); Jr. F Michael Mollay (5 goals, 1 assist).
THE SKINNY?: The Crusaders have several of the conference’s top players on its roster, including Castillo, the newcomer of the year, and Yannick Petzschke, who was the league’s top freshman. The goalkeeper position will be the big question mark as Ryan Foo (3 games) is the only player back with experience.
Outlook: Crusaders improved by 10 games last season and played in NCAA tournament for first time. With Olivas back, they are in a position to take that success a step further.
Simon Fraser Clan
LOCATION: Burnaby, British Columbia
COACH: Clint Schneider. Promoted from assistant to head coach in February. Has been a part of 85 wins in five seasons as an assistant.
2014 RECORD: 11-5-2 overall, 9-3-2 GNAC
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost 1-0 to Northwest Nazarene in opening round of NCAA tournament.
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. M Ryan Dhillon (4 goals, 6 assists — ranked second on team in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M Alex Rowley (9 assists); Jr. F Mateo Espinosa (2 goals, 1 assist); Jr. M Nico Espinosa (2 goals, 2 assists); Jr. D Robert Hyams (6 assists); Jr. GK Brandon Watson (33 saves, 6 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: The Clan brought in a strong recruiting class that features goalkeeper Miguel Hof, a native of South Africa who transferred in from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Offensively, the Clan has three players back who tallied at least six assists and that should help keep the offense flowing in the right direction.
Outlook: The Clan won eight of its final nine and played in the tourney for the fifth consecutive season. They will have added motivation after falling short of a third consecutive trip to the final four.
Western Washington Vikings
LOCATION: Bellingham, Wash.
COACH: Greg Brisbon. Has won 20 games in three seasons and were within a win of the program’s first NCAA tourney trip.
2014 RECORD: 9-8-1 overall; 6-7-1 GNAC
THE CORNERSTONE: So. M Luke Olney (4 goals, 8 assists — led team in assists).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. F Chad Radulovich (4 goals, 3 assists); Sr. D Jeremy Wentzel (3 goals, 2 assists); Sr. M Dan Anderson (2 goals, 2 assists).
THE SKINNY?: Three of the top four scorers are back for the Vikings. The key to their success will be finding a goalie as no one is back with experience. A newcomer to keep an eye on is Eleazar Galvin, a transfer from Skagit Valley College. He scored nine goals and dished out 12 assists last season and won a state championship in high school.
Outlook: The Vikings closed last year with seven wins in their final nine games and should build off that momentum. If they can solidify the goalie situation, they have a shot to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time.
Montana State Billings Yellow Jackets
LOCATION: Seattle, Wash.
COACH: Alex Balog will be entering his second season as the head coach at Montana State.
2014 RECORD: 6-9-3 overall; 6-7-1 GNAC
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Jess Thorge (7 goals, 2 assists — led the team in goals).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. M Rhys Lambert (5 goals, 1 assist); Jr. M David Loeung (2 goals, 1 assist); F M/F Jorge Paez (2 goals); Jr. GK Tom Lohmann (73 saves, 3 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: Christian Geronimo is one of the key newcomers and could provide an immediate impact to the Yellow Jackets’ offense.
Outlook: The Yellow Jackets doubled their win total despite featuring a team where all 23 goals were scored by freshmen or sophomores. With a year of experience. Montana State Billings is in line to be one of the more improved teams in the league.
LOCATION: Bismarck, ND
COACH: Dave Cook. He is entering his ninth season as the head coach and is a former All-American for the Marauders.
2014 RECORD: 5-9-2 overall; 4-9-1 GNAC
THE CORNERSTONE: Fr. F Christoffer Nogueira (9 goals, 6 assists — led the team in scoring).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. F Jordan Pearce (9 goals, 3 assists); Jr. M Aaron Brennan (4 goals, 5 assists); So. M Cole Olson (2 goals, 1 assist); Sr. D Alex Boyes (1 goal, 2 assists).
THE SKINNY?: Mary returns its top three scorers, which is a good sign for a team hoping for a winning season. The Marauders added another international player in the offseason, signing Andre Almqvist, a midfielder out of Sweden. Nogueira is also from Sweden.
Outlook: Offensively, the Marauders should be fine. And they will have to count on their scoring attack early due to the fact that the team doesn’t return a goalie with experience.
Saint Martin’s Saints
LOCATION: Lacey, Wash.
COACH: Rob Walker heads into his ninth season and led the Saints to a conference championship in 2009.
2014 RECORD: 3-14-1 overall; 3-10-1 GNAC
THE CORNERSTONE: So. M Kyle Witzel (4 goals, 1 assist — ranked second in goals scored last year).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. F Jake Zimmer (1 goal, 3 assists); So. F McKray Kohn (2 goals); So. D Tim Teipel (1 goal, 1 assist); Sr. GK Nick Rosato (24 saves).
THE SKINNY?: The Saints will have to find a way to increase their offensive production after managing only 20 goals last year. One player who could help that cause is newcomer Mamadou Leigh, who helped his club team to the state finals last season. He has raw potential and a chance to make an impact right away.
Outlook: The Saints should win at least a few more games than they did a year ago. One of the keys to doing that will be having success at home, where they won only once last year.