PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- The seventh-ranked University of Michigan women's soccer team was picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten Conference, as the conference released its annual preseason coaches' poll and Players to Watch list on Wednesday (Aug. 13).
With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the conference this year, the Big Ten now consists of 14 teams. The Wolverines will face each of the other 13 Big Ten opponents once during the 2014 season, including Penn State (Oct. 16), which was picked to win the conference.
Additionally, sophomores Madisson Lewis (Canton, Mich./Plymouth) and Nicky Waldeck (Chicago, Ill./Western Reserve Academy [OH]), as well as sophomore/freshman Ani Sarkisian (Cresskill, N.J./Cresskill/Florida State) were tabbed as Players to Watch by the conference office. Lewis was an All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection a year ago, and finished the season as U-M's second-leading scorer (6G, 9A). Waldeck played in 19 games with one start in 2013, tallying three goals and two assists. The U-M coaching staff pegged her as one of the team's most improved players during the spring season. Sarkisian transferred to Michigan for the 2014 season after one year at Florida State. She missed the 2013 season at FSU due to injury, but is healthy and expected to contribute and add depth to U-M's front line this season.
Michigan will kick off the regular season on Friday, Aug. 22, when it welcomes Cal State Northridge the U-M Soccer Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. matchup. The Maize and Blue's first Big Ten showdown is set for Friday, Sept. 12, against Minnesota. The conference-opening tilt with the Gophers will begin at 8 p.m. at the U-M Soccer Stadium.
Big Ten Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Penn State
6. Ohio State
12. Michigan State
2014 Big Ten Women's Soccer Preseason Players to Watch
Illinois -- Jannelle Flaws (F), Taylore Peterson (M), Aliina Weykamp (D/M)
Indiana -- Tori Keller (M), Abby Smith (M), Veronica Ellis (M)
Iowa -- Melanie Pickert (D), Cloe Lacasse (F), Caitlin Brown (D)
Maryland -- Aubrey Baker (M), Rachelle Beanlands (G), Cory Ryan(M)
MICHIGAN -- Madisson Lewis (M/F), Nicky Waldeck (F), Ani Sarkisian (M/F)
Michigan State -- Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz (D), Paige Wester (F), Megan Marsack (M)
Minnesota -- Katie Thyken (M), Tarah Hobbs (G), Josee Stiever (M)
Nebraska -- Jaycie Johnson (F), Mayme Conroy (F), Caroline Gray (M)
Northwestern -- Niki Sebo (M), Margo McGinty (D/M), Jackie Alyinovich (D)
Ohio State -- Nichelle Prince (F), Kayla Varner (F), Nikki Walts, (M)
Penn State -- Emily Hurd (M), Mallory Weber (F), Raquel Rodriguez (F/M)
Purdue -- Mollie Kuramoto (M), Taylor Niewoit (M), Alex Hairston (F)
Rutgers -- Madison Tiernan (M), Erica Skroski (D), Stef Scholz (F)
Wisconsin -- Rose Lavelle (M/F), Cara Walls (F), Genevieve Richard (G)
Contact: Whitney Dixon