DENVER – The UMKC women’s soccer team had four Kansas City area players honored with preseason awards by the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and was picked to finish first in the conference by the league’s coaches Wednesday afternoon.
Senior forward Lexie Howard (Kearney, Mo.) was recognized as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in the WAC, in addition to landing on the Preseason All-WAC team. Junior defender Abby Small (Kansas City, Mo.) was tabbed Preseason Defensive Player of the Year along with being named to the All-WAC Team. Seniors Reighan Childers (Grain Valley, Mo.) and Kelsey Mothershead (Smithville, Mo.) rounded out the individual awards by landing on the Preseason All-WAC team.
“It is a tremendous honor for our program to be chosen by fellow WAC coaches as the favorite to win such a competitive league in the 2018 season,” commented reigning WAC Coach of the Year Chris Cissell. “Having four local players named to preseason awards is certainly a testament to the work they have put in to become high-level players but as always, individual honors are made possible by the commitment to excellence of our entire team.”
Howard, who earned WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2017, enters the upcoming season after leading the conference with 12 goals scored and six game-winning goals on the year in addition to finishing second in the WAC with 27 points. With one season remaining, Howard ranks second in UMKC career history with 66 points and 28 goals scored, needing just seven points and five goals in 2018 to claim the top spot.
Small joins Howard in winning Player of the Year honors, receiving the WAC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2017 along with the 2018 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year award. The junior defender was key piece in the UMKC defensive unit a season ago, making starts in all 20 matches for a team that was among the WAC’s best defenses, leading the conference in shutouts (11), goals against average (0.79) and goals allowed (16).
Childers, a First Team All-WAC selection in 2017, was the third Roo to receive preseason awards in being selected to the Preseason All-WAC team. The senior midfielder looks to repeat her performance from a season ago where she served as a strong two-way presence for UMKC in their undefeated conference record. In addition to chipping in on the defensive end, Childers tallied 13 points on five goals and three assists with three game-winning scores in 2017.
Mothershead was the final UMKC player to land on the 2018 Preseason All-WAC team, giving the Roos a conference-best four players on the list. The senior forward was a First Team All-WAC selection in 2017 where she notched seven goals, seventh-most in the WAC, and added a team-high six assists, good for second-most in the conference. Entering 2018, Mothershead ranks fourth in UMKC history with 49 career points and 19 career goals.
“It is always a special honor to be recognized as a top team in what is truly a talented conference top to bottom,” noted Cissell. “Returning such a big number of contributors from last year’s team, it has been our expectation all along to find ourselves at the top of the standings when the 2018 season comes to an end.”
After rolling through conference play with a perfect 7-0 record in route to a WAC regular season championship, UMKC was voted to repeat as league champions for a second consecutive year by fellow coaches. The season will be Cissell’s eighth season at the helm where he has amassed a 73-54-18 overall record with the program and a 20-22-5 mark in WAC play. The Roos will have the majority of their 2017 squad back in action in 2018, returning eight starters from last year’s team.
2018 Preseason Women's Soccer Coaches Poll
Rank Team (1st Place) Points
- Kansas City (5) 60
- Utah Valley (4) 57
- Seattle U 50
- Grand Canyon 38
- UT Rio Grande Valley 37
- New Mexico State 30
- CSU Bakersfield 26
- California Baptist 16
- Chicago State 10
2018 Preseason All-WAC Team
Lexie Howard, Sr., F, Kansas City
Kelsey Mothershead, Sr., F, Kansas City
Aileen Galicia, Sr., F, NM State
Reighan Childers, Sr., MF, Kansas City
Amber Tripp, R-So., MF, Utah Valley
McKenzie Cook, Sr., MF, Grand Canyon
Abby Small, Jr., D, Kansas City
Hannah Carrothers, Sr., D, Seattle U
Hannah Bruce, Jr., D, Utah Valley
Rachel Bowler, Jr., D, Seattle U
Brooklyn Nielsen, Jr., GK, Utah Valley
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Lexie Howard, Sr., F, Kansas City
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Abby Small, Jr., D, Kansas City
– UMKC –