This week in Pac-12 men's soccer
By the Pac-12 Conference
Pac-12 teams are ready to take the field as the 2012 campaign is set to begin. Five teams open the season this weekend with two games featured live on the Pac-12 Networks.
• In a polling of the Conference coaches, UCLA was selected the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 in 2012. In search of their eighth league crown, the Bruins return all five starters from last year's NCAA runner-up squad, including All-Pac-12 honorees SR MF Ryan Hollingshead and SR D Matt Wiet. UCLA begins the season against New Mexico on Pac-12 Networks. The Bruins are ranked No. 2 by the NSCAA and No. 7 by College Soccer News.
• CALIFORNIA returns four veterans to lead the team this season. SR D Steven Birnbaum and SR MF Tony Salciccia return after earning first and second team All-Pac-12 honors, respectively. SO MF Seth Casiple is the top returnee for the Golden Bears. Casiple was named 2011 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and was fourth in the Conference in assists per game, averaging 0.35 apg.
• OREGON STATE added 10 newcomers to join the nine starters and 16 letterwinners returning. Among the veterans is SR F Emery Welshman who was a first team All-Pac-12 honoree. Welshman led the team in points last season with 13 points off of three goals and seven assists. SR MF Roberto Farfan also returns for the Beavers. Farfan was a second team All-Pac-12 selection.
• SAN DIEGO STATE returns 16 letterwinners and added six newcomers to the 2012 team. The Aztecs return a strong list of veterans including SR MF Jose Altamirano and SR MF Abraham Villon. Both were second team All-Pac-12 honorees. Altamirano is the second leading point returner on the team from last year with nine during the 2011 season. During the 2011 season, Villon had four assists, leading the team in the category. SDSU was second in the Conference to only UCLA in points (98), goals per game (1.68) and assists per game (1.79) in 2011. The Aztecs will rely on their returning JR GK Blake Hylen who led the Conference last season with 49 saves.
• Once again STANFORD will look to veteran SR F Adam Jahn to be an offensive threat. Jahn started 14-of-17 games and was second on the team in points and goals. Jahn led the team in shots on goal. SR MF Dersu Abolfathi, JR MF JJ Koval and SR MF Eric Anderson all played and started every game last season for the Cardinal and return again this year to anchor the midfield.
• WASHINGTON will look to JR GK Spencer Richey to continue his success from the 2011 season. Richey led the Conference in save percentage at .808, as well as boasting the lowest goals against average of 0.75. Richey was fourth in the Conference with 59 saves and second in shutouts with nine. Richey and SR MF Dyland Tucker-Gangnes were second team All-Pac-12 honorees. The Huskies will build off the success of last season where they tallied the most victories for the program since 2006.
• UCLA, SAN DIEGO STATE and WASHINGTON were all ranked in the top 30 recruiting incoming classes by College Soccer News. UCLA's class ranked fifth while San Diego State and Washington's classes tied for 30th. UCLA's class brings in 10 newcomers and is headlined by U.S. U-18 National Team defender Javan Toree. San Diego State adds seven to their roster this season including six true freshmen and one transfer. Forward Daniel Flores,a U.S. U-17 National Team member, leads the SDSU class this year. The Huskies add F Darwin Jones, MF James Moberg, D Michael Gallagher and transfer GK Ryan Herman to their roster this season.
Fri., Aug. 24
CALIFORNIA at Santa Clara 7 p.m. PT
Sacramento State at OREGON STATE 7 p.m. PT
New Mexico at UCLA P12N 7 p.m. PT
Gonzaga at WASHINGTON P12N 5 p.m. PT
Sat., Aug. 25
STANFORD at San Francisco 7 p.m. PT
Sun., Aug. 26
Cal Poly at WASHINGTON 5 p.m. PT
P12N indicates televised game on Pac-12 Networks