Having split the Big Sky regular season title in 2011, the Vikings women’s soccer team was picked in the league’s preseason poll as the top team of 2012. “I don’t necessarily think it is any pressure, but it’s nice to hear that people are giving us respect,” coach Laura Schott said.
Despite losing several seniors this season, the team returns five starters and 12 players with experience. Additionally, 11 incoming freshmen bolster a strong team that also welcomes the return from injury of senior midfielder Amanda Howie and sophomore forward Eryn Brown.
“One of the nice things about this group is that it doesn’t really feel to them that ‘these people are freshman’ and ‘these people are seniors,’ and so class-segmented,” Schott said. “So I think they’re integrating really well.” You can watch the team’s home games at Hillsboro Stadium through October.
Portland State’s volleyball team reached the Big Sky championship in 2011, despite being a young team featuring only one senior and weathering a nine-game losing streak at the beginning of the season. More experienced in 2012, the Vikings volleyball team hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament for the third time since 2008.
They will face a tough schedule this year, playing 19 of 31 games away from home. But coach Michael Seemann is confident the team can endure the rigors of travel to advance in the Big Sky tournament.
“This team wants another shot at the title match,” Seemann said. “We are a year older and our roster has experienced players who have been in foreign gyms and handled the rigors that the road sometimes presents.” The team played the first of 12 home games at the Stott Center on Sept. 4 against the University of California, Santa Barbara.
A five-game improvement from 2010 to 2011 has the football team hoping for even more wins in 2012. Ranked eighth nationally in rushing last season, Portland State’s offense returns seven starters. The biggest loss is graduated quarterback Connor Kavanaugh, who led the team in passing and rushing.
The defense loses seven starters. The addition of defensive end Marquis Jackson, a two-time All-Southwest Athletic Conference performer and a transfer student from Texas Southern, should mitigate the losses. The team also returns consensus All-American kicker Zach Brown, who nailed 24 of 27 field goals to lead the nation in 2011.
“Our schedule is probably more challenging than it’s been either of the two years,” coach Nigel Burton said. “Our conference is much deeper than it was in 2009, so we’ll have harder battles week after week. Do I think we have the capability? Absolutely, but it’s going to take an enormous amount of work and commitment.”
After both cross country teams finished last at the 2011 Big Sky Championship, the focus turned to improvement in 2012. The men and women had each introduced four freshmen to the challenges of college cross country, and hopefully a year of experience at a new level will allow both teams to show improvement this fall.
Nearly the entire roster is returning to the women’s squad, while the men must contend with the loss of three seniors. The top individual finishers from last year’s conference championships, junior Zach Carpenter and senior Brittany Castillo, both return to lead the squad this fall. The cross country teams will race twice in Portland this season, at the Sept. 8 Pier Park Invitational and the Oct. 13 Concordia/Puma Cross Country Classic.
WINTER AND SPRING SPORTS
Coach Kathleen Takaishi has built a powerhouse at Portland State. The two-time defending Big Sky champion Vikings return five golfers, including 2011–12 Big Sky individual champion Britney Yada.
Portland State hosts the Rose City Collegiate at Langdon Farms Golf Club Oct. 1–2.
“It is great to have a home tournament,” Takaishi said. “It allows the athletic staff, fans and friends of the golf program to watch us compete.”
The tennis teams are looking to improve after rough seasons in 2011–12. The men finished last year with a 10-tournament losing streak, and return just five players this season. The women finished 2012 with wins against Linfield and Weber State in the final month of the season.
Fifth-year senior Marti Pellicano leads a more experienced women’s team into 2013, hoping to build off the late momentum from last year.
The joy of reaching the Big Sky conference semifinals in 2012 was tempered by losing in the final five minutes to Weber State. Heading into the new season, Viking men’s basketball welcomes California junior-college player of the year Marcus Hall and three other transfers to help replace three graduates.
“What we need to do as a team is just build off how we finished last year,” coach Tyler Geving said. “We’ve got a lot of returners, guys who are motivated.”
For the first time in four years, Portland State’s women’s basketball team missed out on postseason play with a 15-14 record in 2011–12. The Vikings lost three seniors, including two-time all-Big Sky selection Eryn Jones, from last year’s squad.
Ten players with experience return as they try to reclaim Big Sky supremacy. The team plays its home opener Nov. 9 against George Fox University, the first of 14 games at the Stott Center this season.
The softball team, two-time defending Pacific Coast Softball Conference champs, joins the new Big Sky softball league in 2012. Last year the Vikings reached the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years, defeating Mississippi State with a complete-game shutout from junior Anna Bertrand for the first tournament victory under coach Tobin Echo-Hawk.
“The great thing is we return all but three people,” said Echo-Hawk. “This last year—winning a [tournament] game—will just add to our confidence and will hopefully carry over into this season.”
Track and field
Last spring, senior javelin thrower Sean MacKelvie became the fifth Viking to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. MacKelvie is one of seven record-setting seniors who graduated after last season.
This year, keep your eyes on senior sprinter Geronne Black, who set three school records last season and could be the next Vikings NCAA qualifier after reaching the 100 meter quarterfinals in 2012.