Eastern Michigan Picked to Defend Women's Soccer Crown

Updated 8/2/2000
CLEVELAND (August 2, 2000) -- Eastern Michigan has been picked to claim a second-consecutive Mid-American Conference women's soccer title in 2000 as the Eagles received 133 of a possible 144 points in the coaches preseason poll.

Last season the Eagles won both the regular-season title and the MAC tournament title to advance to the NCAA championships. The Eagles will be returning the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, senior goalkeeper Sarah Willis, who will be joined by three other 1999 All-MAC selections, Amanda Kulikowski, Tracy Deeter and Kate Lewis.

Two other teams received first place votes in the poll. Central Michigan received five first place votes to finish second with 128 points. The Chippewas return first-team all-region and All-MAC selection Kjersten Kuhlman to anchor the defense. Miami, who was chosen as the most improved team in the country in 1999 by Soccer Buzz magazine, received one first place vote and finished third overall in the poll with 122 points. The RedHawks return three sophomore All-MAC selections, Danielle Berkmeier, Andrea Cunningham and Shaedyn Cousino. Last season Berkmeier and Cunnigham finished second and third respectively in the conference in points per game.

Buffalo edged out both Northern Illinois and Ohio for the fourth spot in the poll. The Bulls will be returning senior Paula Listrani, the leading point scorer in the conference. Northern Illinois and Ohio both tied for fifth place with 92 points apiece. Ohio will begin the 2000 campaign with Stacy Strauss as the new head coach. Strauss was formerly the assistant coach at Rhode Island.

The next four spots in the poll were decided by nine points with Kent State finishing seventh with 55 points, Bowling Green finishing eighth with 48 points and Western Michigan and Marshall tying for ninth place with 47 points. Bowling Green will also be entering the season with a new head coach as Andy Richards takes over the head coaching duties after serving as an assistant at Oregon State.

Rounding out the 2000 coaches poll are Toledo with 44 points and Ball State with 29 points. Ball State will be entering its second year of competition in the MAC. For the past two seasons, a team in its second year of competition in the MAC has been in first place with one weel left in the regular season (Ohio in 1998 and Central Michigan in 1999).