On Wednesday afternoon, the Big Ten released its annual preseason coaches poll for women’s soccer, along with a list of “players to watch” heading into the upcoming season.
Ranked first in the poll, to the surprise of few, was Penn State. The Nittany Lions captured the 2019 Big Ten title and returned a strong core from their championship group. Future Portland Thorn Sam Coffey will be entering her second (and final) season in State College as arguably the best player in both the conference and possibly even the country. With Coffey back alongside redshirt sophomore Ally Schlegel, who led the Big Ten in both points and (jointly) goals in a utterly torrid redshirt freshman campaign, expectations will be high for the blue and white this spring.
#B1GNews Alert ⤵️@PennStateWSOC is the favorite in the 2020-21 #B1G Women's Soccer Preseason Poll and 6 @HermannTrophy candidates highlight the Players to Watch List.— Big Ten Soccer (@B1GSoccer) February 17, 2021
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The Badgers clocked in at second in the coaches ranking, jostling out the conference’s two other chief contenders in Michigan and Rutgers for the runner up slot. With one of the nation’s top keepers in Jordyn Bloomer back in net, and an elite midfielder in Maia Cella patrolling the center of the park, there’s no reason the Badgers can’t challenge for the top seed they claimed after last year’s regular season.
Rounding out the top four are Michigan and Rutgers, who, despite their slightly lower ranking, can be expected to both be firmly in the mix for first place once the season gets underway. The Wolverines are powered by Canadian playmaker Sarah Stratigakis, while the Scarlet Knights are paced by one of college’s finest collegiate finishers in Amirah Ali.
With the consensus four top teams all sorted, the rest of the rankings went as follows:
5. Ohio State
14. Michigan State
The player watch list included three players from each team, with Jordan Bloomer, Maia Cella, and Cameron Murtha representing the Badgers. Both Bloomer and Cella represent a third of the six Big Ten players named to the Hermann Trophy (college soccer’s Heisman) watchlist. They’re joined by the aforementioned Ali, Coffey, and Stratigakis, as well as lockdown Michigan defender Alia Martin.
The Badgers will kick off their season this Saturday at 6:30 at home at the Mercyhealth Sportscore Two Complex in *coughs* Loves Park, Illinois.