LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The Western Athletic Conference released its preseason women’s soccer coaches’ poll and All-WAC honors on Wednesday as New Mexico State finished ranked in a tie for sixth by the coaches while Aggie midfielder Holly Abdelkader was placed on the Preseason All-WAC list.
The coaches placed NM State in a tie for sixth with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, formerly Texas-Pan American, in the eight-team conference. The Aggies and UTRGV both earned 17 points, ahead of only Chicago State who finished in eighth with eight points.
“Preseason polls are nice to see where you might fit in the conference,” Aggie head coach Freddy Delgado said, “but in the end it’s what you do during the season that defines your team. Although we are very young, I really like the talent and excitement of this team and I truly believe we can make a run at a WAC championship.”
Defending and back-to-back WAC champion Seattle U sits atop the list after garnering six of the eight first-place votes for a total of 47 points. The Redhawks are followed by Grand Canyon (39 points), Missouri-Kansas City (38 points), Utah Valley (35 points) and CSU Bakersfield (23 points).
Abdelkader, meanwhile, will begin her sophomore campaign at NM State this season. Although barely in her second year, the Alta Loma, Calif., native will be counted on as a leader of an Aggie team that consists of 16 freshmen on the 26-player roster.
“This is definitely a really good feeling and I want to thank all my teammates and coaches for their support,” Abdelkader said. “I’ll try to use my experience of my freshman year and try to pass that on to my teammates. I just want this team to be successful and I have a feeling we’re going to have a great season ahead of us.”
During her freshman year, Abdelkader played in all 22 matches while starting in 12 of those matches. She finished the season fifth on the team with two goals and tied for fourth on the squad with two assists and six points.
“Holly is deserving of this honor after an outstanding freshman season here at NM State,” Delgado said. “She will be depended on this year to mentor a lot of the younger players as well as score some critical goals and get some timely assists. We’re putting a lot of responsibility on Holly but I think she’s a talented player and she has the skills necessary to be a leader for this team.”
Other awards handed out Wednesday by the conference, Maria Monterroso of Grand Canyon is the WAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honoree while Utah Valley goalkeeper Jessica Duffin is the WAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honoree.
Abdelkader and the rest of the Aggie team kick off the 2015 season with a scrimmage versus Pima Community College on Wednesday, Aug. 19, before opening up the regular season against Eastern Washington on Sunday, Aug. 23, at the NM State Soccer Athletic Complex.
The Aggies will host a kid’s clinic this Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. before playing the annual Crimson and White intersquad scrimmage immediately after the clinic. Both events are free to the public. For more information or to register a child please contact Jimmy Sanchez at 575-646-8052 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the women’s soccer home page at www.NMStateSports.com.
PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
Place Team (1st Place Votes) Pts.
1. Seattle U (6) 47
2. Grand Canyon 39
3. Missouri-Kansas City (1) 38
4. Utah Valley (1) 35
5. Bakersfield 23
T6. NM State 17
T6. UTRGV 17
8. Chicago State 8
Milla Benedetti (Grand Canyon)
Maria Monterroso (Grand Canyon)
Blakely Fraasch (Grand Canyon)
Andreya Barrera (UTRGV)
Kasandra Anderson (Utah Valley)
Jessica Duffin (Utah Valley)
Natasha Howe (Seattle U)
Kiana Kraft (Seattle U)
Holly Abdelkader (NM State)
Erika Teson (UMKC)
Maja Green (Bakersfield)
PRESEASON OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Maria Monterroso, Jr., F, Grand Canyon
PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jessica Duffin, Sr., GK, Utah Valley