Valparaiso University's women's soccer team, the defending Mid-Continent Conference regular season and tournament champions, has been selected to finish in third place in the league this season according to preseason balloting done by the league's head coaches.
Head coach Stephen Anthony's squad garnered 28 points, including two first place votes, to finish one point behind Oral Roberts in the voting. The Crusaders are coming off of a school-best 12-8-1 season in 2005 and a 4-2 mark in Mid-Con play, sharing the regular season crown with Oakland last season. The Crusaders won their first tournament title with a 3-1 victory over the Golden Grizzlies in the title match and advanced to face Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the school's first postseason appearance in program history.
Oakland, co-champs with the Crusaders last season, earned the other five first place votes and was selected to win this year's title. Western Illinois was picked fourth while Southern Utah was tabbed fifth. IUPUI and Centenary round out the poll in sixth and seventh place respectively.
First place votes earned six points in the poll on a scale that saw one point issued for a sixth place pick. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
The Crusaders will open up their 2006 regular season on Friday, August 25, as Valpo heads to Terre Haute, Ind. to face Indiana State in a 4 p.m. CDT kickoff.
2006 Mid-Continent Conference Preseason Poll
Team - Points
1. Oakland (5) - 35
2. Oral Robert - 29
3. Valparaiso (2) - 28
4. Western Illinois - 20
5. Southern Utah - 15
6. IUPUI - 14
7. Centenary - 6
(First place votes in parentheses)