Not much changed this week in Division II women’s soccer. Despite a minor shuffle, the hierarchy remained very much intact with the top eight teams in the Week 2 poll remaining the same.
RELATED: United States Coaches poll
While the reigning champions extended their current DII-best winning streak, there was a fresh face in the United Soccer Coaches poll, making its first appearance in the Top 25 in school history.
Western Washington remains queen of the pitch, no change in Top 4
Western Washington opened its 2016 season playing Sonoma State to a 0-0 draw. That was the last time the Vikings recorded anything other than a W.
WWU closed the 2016 season with 24 straight wins, including the program’s first national championship. The Vikings extended their win streak to 27, starting off this season 3-0. Junior Gabriela Pelogi is off to a hot start, pacing the Vikings' attack with 10 points behind a team-best four goals.
The top four teams — WWU, Columbus State, Kutztown and Central Missouri, in order — remain the same. All four teams are unbeaten. Columbus State anxiously awaits to get back to the pitch after several games were canceled due to Hurricane Irma. Central Missouri and Kutztown are two of 13 teams that have yet to allow a goal this season. That shouldn't come as a surprise as Central Missouri's Ana Dilkes is one of the best keepers in DII, already denying 21 shots on goal.
Missouri Western State makes its Top 25 debut
No team in DII women’s soccer has scored more goals than Missouri Western State thus far in 2017. That has helped it get off to a program-best 4-0 start, earning its first-ever Top 25 ranking.
Coming in at No. 24, the Griffons have outscored their opponents 18-3. That's in large part thanks to Cassidy Menke, who is arguably the hottest player in DII soccer. The junior forward became Missouri Western State’s all-time leading goal-scorer last weekend, picking up her second Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Offensive Player of the Week honor. Menke’s seven goals are tied atop the DII leaderboard and her 15 total points are second to none.
Suddenly the Sept. 22 showdown between the Griffons and No. 4 Central Missouri becomes one of the bigger matchups of the September schedule.
Sonoma State cracks the Top 10, highlighting this week's big risers
The Seawolves are off to a 5-0-0 start. Because of that, Sonoma State moved eight spots in the poll.
Sonoma State certainly had an exciting week. Its last two wins have come in dramatic fashion, beating Azusa Pacific in overtime and Southern Oregon 1-0 on an Ashley von Tillow goal in the 87th minute. The fast start is important for the Seawolves, who are in one of the toughest conferences in DII women’s soccer. Fellow California Conference Athletic Association rivals UC San Diego is ranked No. 19, while Stanislaus State received votes this week.
West Virginia Wesleyan also rose eight spots, jumping from No. 22 to No. 14. It's relatively easy to make a big jump when you don't allow a single goal all week. That's exactly what the Bobcats did, outscoring their opponents 6-0 in three games.
Grand Valley State saw its run of three national championships halted in the finals by Western Washington last season. Perhaps the memory of that lingered. The Lakers were upset in their season opener by then-unranked Bellarmine and then lost their second game to Columbus State in a Top 3 showdown.
Last week, the Lakers got back to their winning ways, going 2-0 and upsetting then-No. 10 Minnesota State in a shutout. One of GVSU's biggest challenges is filling the voids left by the departures of Marti Corby, one the best players in DII women's soccer history, and Kendra Stauffer, who was top 10 in GVSU scoring history. Freshman forward Ava Cook and redshirt freshman midfielder Corey Sawall showed they could be the answer for the Lakers. First Cook gave the Lakers the lead before assisting to Sawall in the upset of Minnesota State.
It's been a long time since the Lakers were involved on the winning side of an upset. Now that they are rolling once again, watch out.