The 2017 GSAC Women's Soccer season is shaping up to be highly competitive. The GSAC has two teams in the top 11 of the NAIA Women's Soccer Coaches' Preseason Poll and one other team knocking on the door.
Vanguard comes into the season ranked 3rd in the nation after finishing last season ranked 4th. The Lions made it all the way to the quarterfinals last season and will look to make it back to the NAIA National Tournament with hopes of advancing further this year. The Lions return a ton of weapons from last year's elite eight team. All-Americans Madison Lopp, Haley Magana, and Haley Bruce all return for Coach Dodge's squad. Vanguard also brings in some new talent that should have an immediate impact in the starting line-up. Vanguard will be the favorite to finish atop of the GSAC standings.
Westmont is coming off a very successful season having finished 16-4-2. The Warriors will look to reload and make another trip back to Orange Beach. Coach Cappuccilli's squad is ranked 11th in the nation and has hopes of pushing Vanguard for that top spot. Reigning GSAC Freshman of the Year, Maddi Berthoud, will be a load for teams. Berthoud scored 11 goals and had 10 assists as a freshman. The Warriors will have to find a way to replace the 20 goals that All-American Brooke Lillywhite scored for Westmont last year. Expect the Warriors to have another strong year.
The Master's University will look to build off of a successful season and return four key starters. The Mustangs should finish in the top half of the standings and are receiving votes in the preseason coaches' poll. TMU also welcomes four new faces to the program that hope to help the Mustangs win some games. Coach Lewis's squad may surprise some teams this year.
Hope International and Menlo should be battling for that last spot in the top half. Coach Sanger has recruited a lot of speed and depth across the field. The Royals have plenty of senior leadership and will hope to return to the GSAC tournament. The Royals will have to replace their top scorer from last year but bring in some solid transfers that should help fill that hole.
The Oaks welcome their new coach, Robin Hart. Hart comes from Sonoma State and will look to improve off of Menlo's .500 season in 2016. The Oaks have one of the top keepers in the nation in Kaylin Swart. Swart was an All-American last year and is the career leader in saves, shutouts, and goals against average at Menlo College.
Arizona Christian, San Diego Christian, and William Jessup will look to improve on last year's seasons. These three teams should battle it out for the 6th and final playoff spot.
GSAC play begins September 21 and continues until October 29. The GSAC Tournament will consist of the top 6 teams and be played November 4-11. The NAIA National Championship Opening Round games will be on November 18, and the championship tournament will continue at the final site in Orange Beach, Alabama, November 27 – December 2.
For more information, including schedules, results, statistics, and more go to GSAC Women's Soccer.