The GAC is a super competitive league with 6 teams that all have a shot at claiming the crown. The 2014 champion Crimson Storm took the regular season title in 2014 and are picked to defend their championship, but don’t count out any of the other squads. This group features some great rivalries as well, especially between the Southwestern and Northwestern Oklahoma.
PRESEASON CONFERENCE RANKINGS
LOCATION: Bethany (OK)
COACH: Julie Duncan (57-61-5 in 5 seasons)
2014 RECORD: 10-9-1
CONFERENCE: 8-2 (1st in GAC)
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost to Ouachita Baptist in GMAC Tournament, 1-0.
THE CORNERSTONE: Soph./F Hannah Robinson (started all 20 games as a freshman, 6 goals, 1 assist, 66 shots)
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Soph./F Sheridan Williams (5 goals, 2 assists in 705 minutes); Sr./D Grace Self (started all 20 games, 4 goals, 2 assists); Jr./GK Natasha Fuentes (started all 20 games, didn’t take a minute off all season, 80 saves, 199 shots faced, 6 shutouts).
OUTLOOK: The team returns without its top goal scorer, but there are four other women coming back to the pitch that are experienced and have no problem taking shots. With the majority of the team returning, the Crimson Storm is ready to defend its regular season title. They should still have a chip on their shoulder as well, after losing to Ouachita in the GAC tourney last season. Watch for that matchup.
LOCATION: Weatherford (OK)
COACH: Mark Persson (55-49-11 in 6 seasons)
2014 RECORD: 2-13-3
CONFERENCE: 2-6-2 (6th in GAC)
2014 POSTSEASON: N/A
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr./F Charlotte Eastman (team-high 5 goals on 24 shots)
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr./GK Courtney Flores (started all 18 games, 97 saves, .724 save percentage, 3 shutouts); Sr./F Cori Kelly (4 goals, 1 assist, team-high 47 shots with 21 on goal); Soph./MF Olivia Butler (2 goals, team-high 5 assists).
OUTLOOK: All of the key players on the Bulldogs roster return this season, including all four of its top scorers and its starting goalie. Southwestern brought up the rear of the pack in 2014, but could make a run at the title this year. With so much experience on the team, don’t be surprised to see this team start hot and carry that momentum through to the playoffs.
LOCATION: Alva (OK)
COACH: Craig Liddell (First Year)
2014 RECORD: 8-7-3
CONFERENCE: 2-6-2 (5th in GAC)
2014 POSTSEASON: N/A
THE CORNERSTONE: Soph./MF Alyssa Williams (5 goals, 3 assists, 57 shots — all team-highs among returnees)
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr./F Arlet Polack (4 goals, 1 assist); Soph./GK Briana Legaspi (played 16 games in the net, 108 saves, 1 shutout); Sr./M Ellen Trotter (3 goals, 2 assists, 33 shots).
OUTLOOK: The offensive unit returns without its top goal scorer and top assist maker. There are quite a few play makers coming back, though, including Williams, Polack and Trotter. The trio up front poses a formidable line for opposing defenses. While the Rangers are a long shot to strike for the title, they are surely a team on the rise.
LOCATION: Searcy (AR)
COACH: Dr. Greg Harris (100-129-18 in 14 seasons)
2014 RECORD: 6-12-1
CONFERENCE: 6-3-1 (2nd in GAC)
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost to Ouachita in GAC opener, 1-0.
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr./M Audrey Adkison (team-high 7 goals, 8 assists, started all 19 games)
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr./M Melissa Minnich (3 goals, 21 shots with 14 on goal); Jr./F Averie Albright (started all 19 games, 2 goals, 1 assist, 30 shots with 12 on goal); Sr./GK Kaitlyn Miller (87 saves in 16 games played, 3 shutouts, .784 save percentage).
OUTLOOK: This is a senior-heavy squad with Adkinson and Minnich leading the way up front, and Miller holding down the net in the back. This is the year that the Bison have been building toward with so many upperclassmen on the roster. An improvement on their 6-12-1 record from 2014 is inevitable.
LOCATION: Ada (OK)
COACH: Riley Bailey (Enters 7th season at the helm)
2014 RECORD: 7-8-3
CONFERENCE: 4-5-1 (4th in GAC)
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost to Southern Nazarene in GAC opener, 4-1 PK
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr./M Megan Lantrip (1 goal, 2 assists, 32 shots with 13 on goal)
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr./GK Taylor Lowe (1.52 goals against average, 80 saves, 1 shutout); Sr./M Kaitie Herrin (2 goals, 2 assists in 18 games played).
OUTLOOK: Four of the team’s top 5 scorers won’t return to the pitch in 2015. That flips the offense into disarray. Even worse, the majority of the defensive squad has been depleted by graduation as well. The Tigers are looking to rebuild after a successful 4th place finish in the GAC. Expect them to close out their 2015 campaign near the bottom.
LOCATION: Arkadelphia (AR)
COACH: Kevin Wright
2014 RECORD: 8-11-1
CONFERENCE: 5-5 (3rd in GAC)
2014 POSTSEASON: Defeated Southern Nazarene in GAC final, 1-0.
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr./F Haley Hatcher (started all 20 games, 17 goals, 3 assists, 107 shots with 54 on goal)
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr./MF Bryson Rial (started 19 games, 4 goals, 3 assists); Soph./GK Lauren Llanes (played 11 games in the net, 86 saves, 2 shutouts); Soph./F Kasey Smith (3 goals, 1 assist, 14 shots with 9 on goal).
OUTLOOK: The Tigers are the reigning GAC Tournament champs, which came as a bit of a surprise in 2014. Despite a poor ranking, the team could be the dark horse in the GAC. The Tigers return the majority of their roster, including top scorer Hatcher. The defense will be key to how well the team performs this season. Regardless of how many goals they score, they have to prevent the other team from netting the ball first.