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Pressure on Wright State women’s soccer team after preseason poll

Wright State women’s soccer coach Pat Ferguson wouldn’t have minded seeing his team picked to finish last in the Horizon League preseason poll. He wasn’t so fortunate Wednesday, nor was he surprised to see his experienced group picked to finish second.

“It kind of sucks because all it does is put pressure on you,” he said.

Ferguson does realize it’s a good problem to have. The Raiders return 16 letterwinners from a team that finished 9-5-6 last season and lost 1-0 to Milwaukee in double overtime in the Horizon League championship game.

Wright State is already off to a good start in 2013. It beat Bowling Green 1-0 in an exhibition game Tuesday.

“That’s a much improved Bowling Green side,” Ferguson said. “They struggled a little bit last year. They’ve got a new coach. Having said that, I think we dominated them from start to finish. I think we’re farther ahead this year in our preseason than we were last year at the same time.”

The Raiders play two more exhibition games, today at Mount Vernon Nazarene and Sunday against Evansville at home, before opening the regular season next Friday at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.

Emilie Fillion, a senior from Quebec, scored the only goal Tuesday. She and Ini Umotong, a sophomore from England, led the Raiders with seven goals each in 2012. Umotong was the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year last season.

“I think the primary way she has improved is just in terms of experience,” Ferguson said. “The game is played a little differently here at the Division I level in the states. She’s got an entire year under her belt. She’s definitely going to be hard to handle for the opposition.”

Fillion, Umotong, junior defender Allie Metzler, senior goalkeeper Brooke McCurdy and sophomore midfielder Kalee Thompson were all named to the College Sports Madness Horizon League preseason teams.

In all, 12 of the 17 players who appeared in the Horizon League championship game for the Raiders are back on the roster this season. The Raiders have seven seniors, but only two freshmen.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever brought in a freshman class this small,” Ferguson said. “At the same time, I don’t know if I’ve ever had this many returners.”

Men’s basketball: Senior Kendall Griffin left Saturday for a mission trip to Ivory Coast in Africa with a team from Athletes in Action.

The team also includes players from Michigan, St. Louis, UNC Charlotte, Indiana State, Iowa State, Elon, Southern Idaho, East Carolina and Ohio. CBS announcer Clark Kellogg, whose son Nick is the player from Ohio, is one of the team’s coaches.

Men’s soccer: The Raiders open exhibition play Saturday at Marquette. The Raiders were picked to finish sixth in the Horizon League in the preseason poll released Thursday.

Earlier this month, the Raiders’ 2013 recruiting class was ranked 40th best in the nation. Among the new recruits is Omari Morris, a redshirt freshman forward and a transfer from Akron. He was part of the No. 2 ranked class in the nation a year ago at Akron and played for Canada’s under-17 national team.

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