The Bethany Swedes women's soccer team was picked to finish fourth in the KCAC by the coaches.
WICHITA — In 2015, the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference had four women’s soccer teams that were clearly above the pac. Oklahoma Wesleyan, Ottawa, Kansas Wesleyan and Bethany all finished 1.5 game back of each other, and the 11 coaches that voted in the KCAC preseason polls feel nothing has changed.
Bethany was picked to finish fourth, behind OKWU, Ottawa and first place Kansas Wesleyan. KWU took 10 of the 11 votes, while defending regular season champions Oklahoma Wesleyan stole the other vote.
Last season, Bethany finished 7-2-1 in conference, losing to then No. 19 Oklahoma Wesleyan 3-2 in the conference semifinals. The Swedes return the KCAC Goalkeeper of the Year Jovana Canales and KCAC All-Conference First Team selection Sarah Henderson.
“There weren’t too many surprises in the coaches poll; you really have to get into the games to see how it falls,” Bethany head coach John Markey said. “Jovana is back healthy after some back injuries, and Sarah had a good season last year.”
Henderson is entering her senior season with high expectations, after scoring 15 goals and three assists last fall. The California native has 37 goals and 14 assists for her career, with one season left to go.
Also a senior from California that will have a huge impact on the Swedes season is the reigning best goalkeeper in the KCAC. Canales started 15 games in net last season, and gave up just over one goal a contest. She had 93 total saves for an 85.3 save percentage. Canales has 247 saves for her career and has started 45 times for Bethany. That type of experience in net is uncoachable, and is a huge bonus for a Bethany team that lost a little fire power last year.
The Swedes posted seven on the postseason awards list and return four for 2016. Henderson and Canales will lead the charge, while Erika Klein and Taylor Petersen are players who can compete at high levels.
“I don’t think we’re far apart from the top three teams at all,” Markey said. “Each season teams get better as they lose key players and we’re returning a couple good players and bringing in a couple good players.”
Klein and Petersen make up as tough a defense as you’ll see in the KCAC, plus Canales in net will make it difficult for opposing teams to score.
If the Swedes are to challenge the top three teams, they’ll need offense from someone not named Sarah Henderson. Bethany graduates a lot of offensive fire power from a talented 2015 team.
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