On the heels of the best season in program history, the Fort Hays State University women’s soccer team will open the 2017 season ranked No. 14 in the nation. The preseason edition of the United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) NCAA Division II Poll features two MIAA schools in the Top 25 as FHSU joins No. 5 Central Missouri. FHSU and UCM shared the MIAA regular season title last year.
This is the first appearance for the FHSU women's program in the preseason poll. FHSU jumped into the top 25 nationally for the first time last year on Sept. 13, debuting No. 16 in the poll at that time. Eventually, the Tigers finished at No. 14 in the nation
Fort Hays finished the 2016 campaign at 15-5-3, setting a new school record for wins in a season and advancing to the NCAA Central Regional final. The Tigers were knocked out of the tournament by conference co-champ Central Missouri, but advanced past Harding and Minnesota State-Mankato for their deepest NCAA Tournament run in program history.
The Tigers enter their first year under head coach Blake Reynolds after Craig Shaw led the program for its first six years of existence. Reynolds was a head coach at NAIA affiliates Midland (Neb.) University and Kansas Wesleyan University before taking the head role at FHSU. He compiled an overall mark of 102-42-19, spending four years at each of the previous two schools.
Eden Stoddard is the top returning goal scorer on the team after putting seven in the back of the net last year to earn All-MIAA status. She also led the team in game-winning goals. Bailey Schmitz looks to give the Tigers solid defensive presence again after All-MIAA and all-region honors a year ago. She helped the team to a new school record 12 shutouts last season, so the Tigers may look to defense once again as a strong point. FHSU ranked 19th nationally in goals against average last year (0.62). Taryn Schnell and Jasmine Beaulieu were also All-MIAA selections that helped anchor the midfield and defense, who give FHSU a total of four all-conference selections from last year returning in 2017.
Below is the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division II preseason poll.
Western Washington University
Grand Valley State University
Columbus State University
University of Central Missouri
Colorado School Of Mines
University Of Bridgeport
University Of West Florida
West Chester University
University of California-San Diego
Truman State University
University of North Georgia
Fort Hays State University
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Saint Leo University
Minnesota State University-Mankato
East Stroudsburg University
Sonoma State University
St. Edward's University
University Of Charleston
Also receiving votes: Rockhurst University, University of Central Oklahoma, Azusa Pacific University, Central Washington University, Nova Southeastern University, Midwestern State University, Colorado State University-Pueblo, McKendree University, Minot State University, Rollins College, University of Missouri-St. Louis.