SALT LAKE CITY — The No. 22nd-ranked Westminster College women's soccer team will begin the 2012 season this weekend with two home games. Westminster will begin the year on Friday with a contest against Avila (Mo.) at noon. The team will then play College of Idaho in a 4:30 p.m. match on Sunday to complete the opening weekend.

College of Idaho and Avila will play each other at Dumke Field on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

The Griffins begin the year with a No. 22 ranking in the Preseason NAIA Coaches' Top 25. This is the first time in school history the team has been ranked in the preseason poll. Westminster went 12-7-2 last season and claimed a share of the Frontier Conference regular season title before advancing to the NAIA National Championships for the first time in school history.

Among the 18 returnees from that 2011 squad, the team brings back six starters. That group includes 2011 leading scorer Margo Hickman. Hickman tallied 11 goals and five assists last year to lead the team in both categories. She was a first team all-conference performer and was fourth in the league with those 11 goals. Justine Jones is also back after a four goal and four assists season last year.

The midfield is led by senior Jaime Nelson. She started all 20 games last season and posted two assists while taking 26 shots. Carissa Cooper and Lorin Wathen could also start in the midfield this season. Cooper scored three goals as a freshman and Wathen posted one assist last year.

The back line will be anchored this season by juniors Jessica Harris, Sadie Young and sophomore Miranda Miner. All three were starters throughout most of last season and helped the team allow just one goal per game. Sophomore Caitlyn Jasumback along with freshmen Amanda Peppers, Megan Molumby and Madeline Orr will also compete for playing time on the Griffins defense.

For the first time in program history Westminster has depth at the goalie position. Senior Dayna Winter-Nolte returns after posting a 0.98 GAA last season, while posting eight shutouts. Winter-Nolte holds the school career record for saves, wins, shutouts and starts by a goalie. University of Arizona transfer Jamie Wilkinson should also see some time in goal this season. Freshman Abi Yanke also looks to compete for playing time.