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Big Rapids, Mich. - After the most historic season in school history a year ago, the Ferris State University women's soccer team will begin the 2019 season with lofty expectations as the Bulldogs have been picked second in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) preseason poll announced Wednesday.
The Bulldogs tallied 67 points and a first-place mention in voting by the league's member head coaches. FSU finished only behind Grand Valley State in the 10-team ranking as the Lakers notched 81 points and the remaining nine first-place votes. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams in the poll.
Behind GVSU and FSU was Saginaw Valley State in third place with 64 points followed by Ashland in fourth (63), Michigan Tech in fifth (49) and Davenport in sixth (38). The bottom four consisted of Parkside in seventh place (33), Northern Michigan in eighth (23), Northwood in ninth (20) and Purdue Northwest (12) rounding out the listing.
A new era begins for Ferris State women's soccer this fall as first-year head coach Greg Henson takes over a program coming off its most historic season in school history.
Ferris State finished the 2018 season ranked 10th in the country in the final United Soccer Coaches National Rankings. The Bulldogs wrapped up the campaign with a school all-time best 17-4-3 overall record en route to a NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen finish. Ferris State was also the runner-up in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) regular season and made the program's first appearance in the GLIAC Tournament Championship game.
Last year's #10 national ranking was the highest in school history as the Bulldogs made a run to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship match as one of the nation's final 16 teams in the national tournament. The Bulldogs qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and hosted the opening two rounds, winning their first two tournament games, all on an at-large bid.
A year ago, the Bulldogs shattered several all-time school records. Ferris State set records for most wins (17), fewest losses (4), highest winning percentage (.771), best road winning percentage (.818), longest winning streak (8), longest unbeaten streak (14), most goals scored (50), lowest goals against average (0.92), most goalkeepers to record a shutout in a single season (3) and tied the record for most shutouts in a single-season (9).
In individual play, Bulldog forward Pia Nagel shattered the all-time single season mark for game-winning goals with seven, nearly doubling the old record of four. Goalkeeper Alison Chesterfield also set the new record for single-season winning percentage in a minimum of ten games played (.833). Both return in 2019.
Ferris State also set a school mark for most players earning All-GLIAC Honors with seven being named to the list. Six of the seven return this year including All-GLIAC First Team honorees in Pia Nagel, Bri Rogers and Tia VanSuilichem along with second team choices Maddie Dickens and Alison Chesterfield along with honorable mention choice Abigail Gilmore. Both Rogers and Nagel along with VanSuilichem were all-region choices.
FSU, which returns the bulk of its roster this fall, will open the 2019 regular-season at home against Truman State (Mo.) at the Bulldog Soccer Field on Friday, Sept. 6, starting at 4 p.m. (ET).