Aug. 17, 2009

By Amy Farnum
NCAA.com

Defending NCAA Division II champion Seattle Pacific returns to start the 2009 season as the team to beat once again as the No. 1-ranked squad in the NSCAA/adidas Division II Preseason Poll.

The Falcons return six starters, including last year’s leading scorer junior Amanda Johnson (11 goals), from last year’s team that posted a 22-1-2 mark.  Junior Maddie Dickinson, who racket up 10 of the teams 17 shutouts last year, will be back defending the Falcons’ goal. 

SPU has reached the NCAA semifinals in three of the last four years, including the championship game in 2005 and 2008.  The Falcons’ only loss in 2008 was to No. 12 Western Washington, a fellow member in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

“We have been ranked in the top four in the preseason the last couple years,” said head coach Chuck Sekyra. “Going to the final four three of the last four years kind of etched it in stone so we are looked at like that.  That’s the way we want things to be. We don’t want to be on the outside looking in. We want to be the top-ranked team and we’re proud to be there. Hopefully we get off to a great start this year and we keep that going.”

The Falcons kick off the season by hosting Cal State Monterey Bay on Aug. 27.

LOADED: West Florida, the 2008 NCAA runner-up, is in position for another record-setting season with 10 of its 11 starters back on the field, including National and Gulf South Conference Player of the Year Shaneka Gordon.

Gordon, a native of Old Harbour, Jamaica, was second in the GSC with 46 points last year, is one of seven Argonaut players listed on the Preseason All-GSC Team along with her twin sister Shameka, a defender, who anchored a UWF defense in limiting foes to just six goals in 19 games.

The Lady Argos are favored to repeat as GSC champions, and are ranked No. 2 in the NSCAA/adidas Division II Preseason Poll.

BEEP, BEEP!  After falling to eventual national champion Seattle Pacific to end a 23-game unbeaten streak and the 2008 season, Metro State has a strong case to be ranked No. 3 in the preseason national poll.

The Roadrunners welcome back seven of their top nine scorers from 2008, including third team All-America forward Becca Mays, who netted 22 goals and tallied eight assists.  Defensively, Metro State is also in good shape with senior goalkeeper Becca Maloney returning.  She led the nation with a .927 save percentage, and ranked fifth in the nation with a 0.38 goals against average.

Metro State, which lost its opening game to Minnesota Mankato in 2008, starts this season versus Nebraska-Omaha Aug. 28.

NOTABLE:  Franklin Pierce University All-American Angelika Johansson garnered W-League Most Valuable Player for contributing 36 points in the Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues’ 12-0-2 regular season this summer.  The native of Falkenberg, Sweden, has scored 40 goals in her first two seasons for the Ravens at FPU, including a Division II-leading 29 last year… Columbus State was voted as the preseason favorite to claim the Peach Belt Conference title after winning its league-record fourth straight title last season.