GRANVILLE, Ohio – On the heels of a North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Denison Big Red women's soccer program has been named the preseason favorite in the NCAC for the 2017 season based on a coach's vote from across the conference.
After posting a 10-6-4 record and defeating Wittenberg to secure the 2016 NCAC Tournament crown, it's hard to pick against the Big Red entering the 2017 campaign. As head coach Gail Murphy enters her 20th season at the helm of the Big Red, her squad will be in good hands with seniors Grace Murray and Meg Wozniak leading by example and reigning NCAC Midfielder of the Year, junior Maggie Armstrong, looking to improve on her three goals and nine points from last season.
Leadership is a strong suit for this year's squad and that should rub off nicely on this year's class of 10 incoming first-year's.
Senior goalkeeper Jenny Herold will be back between the pipes for the Big Red. During the 2016 season, Herold established herself as one of the best keepers in the NCAC, boasting eight shutouts, 63 saves and a 0.97 goals-against-average.
Herold's biggest help will be on the defensive half of the field with the return of sophomores Emma Phinney, along with senior Allison Vilsack who helped Denison post some of the best goals-against numbers in the conference last season.
The Big Red will be tested right out of the gates this weekend when they travel to Wheaton College in Illinois for the 2017 Bob Baptista Invitational. Denison will open their season on Friday afternoon with the Loras College Duhawks that finished last season at 12-4-3, and with the help of some of the best defensive numbers in the nation, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Big Red follow that up with a match on Saturday afternoon against a Whitworth University Pirates squad that finished last season with their best record since 2012 (10-10) and are boasting a veteran-heavy group with 19 juniors and seniors. Both matches this weekend will be played at 12:30 p.m. eastern.
Denison will then return to Ohio for a night game at Otterbein on Wednesday, September 6, before making their home debut next Saturday, September 9 at Barclay-Thomsen Field against Dominican University (Ill.).