Defending Champs Begin Season Ranked No. 1

Defending Champs Begin Season Ranked No. 1

TOP-25 POLL

St. Louis, Mo., August 7, 2017 – The 2016 NCAA Division III National Champion Washington University in St. Louis women's soccer team is ranked No. 1 in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top-25 Poll, as announced by the organization.

Tenth-year head coach Jim Conlon returns 25 letterwinners from a year ago, including eight that made at least 10 starts. The Bears claimed the programs' first national championship with a 5-4 shootout victory over Messiah Dec. 3 in Salem, Va. WashU recorded a 19-2-3 overall record, the second most wins in school history, and won the University Athletic Association (UAA) title for the fourth time in the last five years.

"It is quite an honor to be respected by your peers to be voted No. 1," said Conlon, who has guided WashU to a 152-33-15 (.798) record in nine seasons on the Danforth Campus. "We recognize that 2016 has a part in this recognition. We are going to work hard in 2017 to be the best team we can be."

Among those returning is junior midfielder Maggie Crist, a first-team All-America selection from a year ago. Crist started 22 games and controlled the midfield for the Bears, scoring one goal on 29 shots. She was also part of the WashU defense which set a single-season school record with 18 shutouts and a 0.32 goals against average.

Senior midfielder Mia Mastroianni (two goals), senior midfielder Gillian Myers (four goals) and senior back Kelly Von Zup (one goal) all made 10 or more starts a year ago and will lead a senior class of 10.

Other returning starters include: junior midfielder Darcy Cunningham (four goals), junior midfielder Caroline Dempsey (five goals) and junior midfielder Jessica Kovach (one goal).

Sophomore forward Taylor Cohen was second on the team in scoring a year ago with six goals and six assists, and was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. Senior forward Mariana Alisio also returns after leading the squad and the UAA in assists with eight.

The Bears will face four teams ranked in the preseason top-25 poll: No. 3 University of Chicago, No. 6 Brandeis University, No. 10 Pomona-Pitzer Colleges and No. 22 Carnegie Mellon University. 

WashU opens the 2017 season at DePauw University on Friday, Sept 1, at 7 p.m. (ET). The Bears host Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the home opener on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 6:30 p.m.