Coaches tab UCLA as preseason favorite for Pac-12 title

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - In a polling of the Conference’s 12 women’s soccer coaches, UCLA was selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2013 regular season Pac-12 title, the Conference office announced today. The 2012 Conference runner-ups collected 117 points and 7-of-11 possible first-place votes. Four-time defending Conference champion STANFORD was a close second, tallying 115 points and the remainder of the first-place votes. For the second-straight year CALIFORNIA was picked to finish third. 

Despite losing 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year Zakiya Bywaters to graduation and former coach B.J. Snow to the U-17 U.S. National team, the Bruins return nine starters from a squad that advanced to the Elite Eight in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including two-time all-Conference performer and All-American defender Abby Dahlkemper. New head coach Amanda Cromwell takes over as UCLA looks to knock the Cardinal from atop the Conference pedestal. 

The second-place Cardinal will try to defend its 2012 Pac-12 title with an experienced corp of returnees, led by senior goalkeeper and two-time all-Conference selection Emily Oliver. Stanford also welcomes back a veteran front-line that will enjoy the addition of Minnesota transfer Taylor Uhl, the nation’s top goal scorer in 2012. The Bears, who return last season’s Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Ifeoma Onumonu, garnered 99 points as the third-place finisher.

WASHINGTON finished fourth in the balloting, picking up 77 points, and ARIZONA STATE’s 74 points were good for fifth place. OREGON STATE and WASHINGTON STATE each earned 70 votes to tie for sixth, while USC came in at number eight with 65. UTAH collected 37 points to finish ninth and rounding out the poll were COLORADO, OREGON and ARIZONA, finishing 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively.

The 2013 season kicks off August 23-25. The Pac-12 Network will televise 58 live women’s soccer contests this fall, starting on August 23 when Northeastern visits UCLA at 6 p.m. PT.

1.   UCLA (7) 117
2.  Stanford (5) 115
3.  California 99
4.  Washington 77
5.  Arizona State 74
6.  Oregon State 70
   Washington State 70
8.  USC 65
9.  Utah 37
10.  Colorado 27
11.  Oregon 21
12.  Arizona 15