WWU Vikings open 2019 as Preseason No. 11 Team in the Nation

600-WSCrest2016BELLINGHAM, WA – (school release) The Western Washington University women’s soccer team will open the 2019 season ranked No. 11 nationally in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division II Preseason Poll.

WWU is coming off a 17-3-3 season in 2018 that resulted in a fourth consecutive NCAA II West Regional Championship appearance, and returns nine starters and 20 total letterwinners for the upcoming season.

The Vikings finished last season ranked No. 11 in the nation and the preseason ranking extends a streak of consecutive national polls to 53 consecutive. WWU has advanced to the NCAA Championships in each of the last seven seasons, combining to go 136-14-9 (.884) during this span.

Last year’s national runner-up Grand Valley State is the preseason No. 1-ranked team, with the University of Bridgeport No. 2 and West Region rival UC San Diego No. 3. The Vikings are scheduled to play a pair of teams in the preseason national top 25, visiting Colorado School of Mines (No. 15) on Sept. 25 in Golden, Colorado and Great Northwest Athletic Conference rival Concordia (No. 22) on Oct. 31 in Portland.

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Headlining WWU’s list of returning players includes junior All-American goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx (0.53 GAA, 8 shutouts in 2018), senior forward Karli White (injured in 2018, 10 goals, 8 assists in 2017), GNAC Freshman of the Year Dayana Diaz (7 goals) and three of four starting defensive players – seniors Annaliese Laurila, Emily Nelson and Lindsey Fujiwara.

Head coach Travis Connell enters his 17th season at the helm of the women’s program and 24th overall at WWU. The Vikings are 238-69-28 (.752) all-time under Connell with a string of 15 consecutive winning seasons, the 8th-longest active streak amongst NCAA Division II programs.

The Vikings are scheduled to report back to campus for preseason workouts on August 18 (Sunday) and will play exhibition matches against the University of Fraser Valley (8/23, Bellingham, 6 pm), Trinity Western (8/27, Langley, BC, 7 pm) and the University of British Columbia (8/29, Vancouver, BC, 7 pm). The official 2019 season opener will be on the road on September 5 at MSU Denver, with the home opener September 12 vs. Sonoma State at Harrington Field.

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