Feature: UCLA Women's Soccer Looks for Repeat Trip to Final Four

Aug. 13, 2007

By Ajaybir Behniwal
Daily Bruin

August 13, 2007

Los Angeles, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- The UCLA women's soccer team has notched the No. 3 ranking in the Soccer America preseason rankings.

The ranking should come as no surprise.

The Bruins reached the semifinals of the College Cup last season, falling 2-0 to North Carolina, the eventual national champion. They recruited an incoming freshman class that was ranked as the nation's best this spring. And they will return several key players, including junior Kara Lang, who missed the 2006 season because of injury.

The Bruins, who posted a 21-4 record during the 2006 season, will certainly have high expectations of themselves heading into the upcoming season, as does the rest of the nation.

The only two teams ranked ahead of UCLA in the preseason poll are North Carolina and the other finalist from last year, Notre Dame. There are no other Pac-10 teams in the top 10.

The Bruins return nine players who played crucial roles in getting them to the national semifinal, including their top three goal scorers: sophomore Lauren Cheney, senior Danesha Adams and junior Christina DiMartino.

The trio will be rejoined by Lang, who is now a redshirt sophomore after sitting out last season because of a torn ACL she suffered in the offseason prior to taking the field for any games.

The most noticeable difference in the roster, however, will be the addition of the highly-touted freshman class. Coach Jill Ellis was able to secure spots for three Parade All-Americans, including Lauren Barnes, Kylie Wright and Sarah Salazar, who contributed to the Bruins' first top-ranked recruiting class since 2000.

Additionally, several Bruins got some valuable offseason experience with the U.S. national teams. Ellis led the United States under-20 national team at the Pan American Games in Brazil. The team included four Bruins: incoming freshmen Barnes and Wright, and sophomores Cheney and Lauren Wilmoth. Adams and DiMartino played on the U.S. under-21 team, which beat Germany to win the Nordic Cup in Finland.

UCLA will play its first game of the season Aug. 31 on the road against Houston, where it will also play No. 8 Texas two days later before returning to Westwood. The Bruins will then take on Illinois and San Francisco in the UCLA Women's Cup hosted at Drake Stadium beginning Sept. 7. UCLA's top-ranked opponent is No. 5 Santa Clara, whom they will meet on Oct. 7 at Drake Stadium.

The Bruins will be attempting to do what no other team in their conference has done by capturing their fifth consecutive Pac-10 title en route to a fifth straight appearance in the College Cup at the end of the season.

MAC HERMANN TROPHY WATCH LIST: Adams, Cheney and DiMartino were three of the 46 players voted to the preseason Missouri Athletic Conference's Hermann Trophy Watch List by Division I coaches. The list serves as an indicator for potential player of the year candidates and is narrowed down as the season progresses.

(C) 2007 Daily Bruin via CSTV U-WIRE

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