Women’s football ranked fifth in GAC preseason coaches poll

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RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – On Tuesday, the Great American Conference announced the results of its 2021 preseason female coaches survey. Ouachita, the 2021 spring GAC champion, and Oklahoma Baptist, the regular season spring champion, met at tie at the top of the votes. The Tigers received three first place votes while the Bison won two.

In April, the Tigers won their second GAC Championship title by beating host Bison 1-0 in overtime on a Frankie Nine goal. Jaymee Dotson, the tournament MVP and an All-GAC first-team selection, returns after placing second on the team in goals and points while leading assists. Michele Snow, who recorded three GAC Championship shutouts to make the tournament’s all-star squad, is also back.

The Bisons won their third regular season crown in the past four seasons with a 5-0-1 record in the league and a 7-2-2 record overall. They return a pair of first-team All-GAC selections that earned the honor as freshmen to Kaylee Swaner and Kimmy McKinney. Swaner tied her teammate Hannah White for the team lead with four goals. Goalkeeper Mia Pendleton recorded six GAC-leading shutouts and posted the second-best goals-against average.

The southwestern state of Oklahoma took third place in the poll. The Bulldogs won the two outstanding first place votes. Elizabeth Moreno became the second player in program history named GAC Defender of the Year. Brianna Benitez and Micaela Swain were also part of the All-GAC first team in the spring. Benitez led the team in assists and points while Swain led the team in goals.

East Central was fourth, one point ahead of Harding. Tanja Bauböck of the Tigers made GAC history by becoming the first player in league history to be recognized as both Player of the Year and First Year of the Year. She placed second in the conference in goals and points and tied for the lead in winning goals. The ladies bison Briley-Anne Brown joined Bauböck, Swaner and McKinney as freshmen named to the First All-GAC team.

Southern Nazarene and northwestern Oklahoma state completed the ballot. In April, the Crimson Storm upset SWOSU in the first round of the GAC Championships to claim their first tournament victory in program history. The Rangers are set to replace their All-GAC first-team goalie Reyna Gonzalez.

The regular season begins on the first Thursday in September as six schools – East Central, Harding, Northwestern Oklahoma State, Oklahoma Baptist and Southwestern Oklahoma State enter the field. The Southern Nazarene opens the next day. The GAC Championships will take place on Thursday November 11 and Saturday November 13 at the regular season champion’s site and feature the top four teams.

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