Originally Published: August 15, 2018 7:35 p.m.
PRESCOTT — A few days before kicking off the 2018 season, the Embry-Riddle women’s soccer team received word Wednesday afternoon that NAIA voters across the nation consider them a Top 15 team in the country.
The 2018 NAIA Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 poll listed the Eagles at No. 14 overall in the country with 233 total points.
It is the highest ranking in program history for the Eagles, which topped out at No. 15 to end the 2017 campaign.
Longtime Embry-Riddle head coach Todd Poitras said the preseason ranking was “somewhat expected” because they return so many players.
“It doesn’t add any pressure to us, our expectations as a program are to be in this position every year. Our goal has always been to be in the top 20 and climb our way up each match,” Poitras said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
It is the third time in program history the Eagles have made the preseason NAIA national poll.
In 2017, Embry-Riddle finished 18-4 overall, including a perfect 8-0 mark in Cal Pac play, claiming the conference title without allowing a goal in eight matches. The Eagles advanced to the NAIA National Championship Tournament, defeating Science and Arts (Oklahoma) 3-1 before falling to eventual national champion Spring Arbor, 4-2.
Spring Arbor is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll with 405 total points.
Embry-Riddle is one of only five clubs ranked in the national Top 25 poll that play on the West Coast.
The Eagles (0-0, 0-0 Cal Pac) open their season this weekend by hosting No. 8-ranked Westmont (California) on Saturday, Aug. 18.
Westmont is one of four clubs on the current 2018 scheduled ranked in the Top 25. No. 25 Eastern Oregon (Aug. 24), No. 11 Marian (Sept. 13) and No. 1 Spring Arbor (Sept. 15) are the others.
Official start time Saturday against Westmont is set for 7 p.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.