Cal Poly Selected First In Big West Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
2015 Women's Soccer Preseason Poll
Cal Poly has been selected the preseason favorite to capture the 2015 Big West women’s soccer title.
The Mustangs received three first-place votes in ballots among the Big West’s nine head coaches for a total of 72 points. Long Beach State received a first-place vote of its own with 70 points while Cal State Fullerton, the 2014 regular season and Big West Tournament champion, collected 68 points for third place with three first-place nods. UC Irvine raked in a first-place vote and finished out the top four teams with 50 points.
CSUN (37 points), UC Santa Barbara (28), Hawai‘i (28), UC Riverside (27) and UC Davis (25) rounded out the preseason poll.
With coach Alex Crozier at the helm, the Mustangs return 25 letterwinners while adding 10 newcomers as they look for their ninth conference crown. CP enters the season on the heels of a winning 2014 campaign that saw a 10-9-1 overall run for a 5-3 mark in the Big West. Six players return for the Mustangs who received all-conference accolades last season including seniors Elise Krieghoff, Robin Mertens and Alyssa Giannetti and juniors Megan Abutin, Nicole Wheeler and Kendra Bonsall. The returners are expected to anchor Cal Poly’s quest for its second title in four years while looking to improve upon its 18-5-2 Big West record since 2012. Among the senior class of nine is offensive threat Krieghoff, a three-time first team all-conference selection, who leads all active goal-scorers in the conference with 46 career netters. She enters her final campaign as the school record holder in the category and is just 10 shy of setting a new Big West mark. Krieghoff enters the 2015 campaign tied for the third-highest goal total among all active Division I players.
Long Beach State’s returning cast is highlighted by reigning Big West Goalkeeper of the Year Ashton McKeown, Midfielder of the Year Mimi Rangel and Freshman of the Year Ashley Gonzales. Junior McKeown led all goalkeepers with 91 saves and a 0.80 goals against average in 2014 while Gonzales’ nine goals were fourth-best in league. The 49ers are poised to make a run for the title after going 8-7-6 overall and 4-2-2 in conference last year.
Coach Demian Brown’s Titans look to repeat after claiming both the Big West Tournament title and the regular season title in 2014. Cal State Fullerton returns offensive standout Rebecca Wilson and the reigning Big West Tournament MVP in Christina Burkenroad. Wilson tallied a conference second-most 10 goals a season ago while recording 23 points in her third campaign. Fullerton brings back 14 letterwinners, including seven starters, and will be joined by 11 newcomers and one returning redshirt. The Titans also return 24 of its 30 goals scored last season led by Wilson who collected 10, Burkenroad (6) and Connie Caliz (4).
UC Irvine looks to claim its first title since 2011 and will look to returner Kiana Palacios, the team’s leading goal scorer with four last year. The Anteaters will look to senior Corey Tobin to lead the backline in goal. Tobin, an All-Big West Second Team selection as a freshman, has made 25 starts during her career.
The coaches also voted for an 11-player preseason all-conference team that revealed top talent throughout the league with representation of six different programs. Cal State Fullerton (Morgan Batcheller, Christina Burkenroad, Rebecca Wilson) and Long Beach State (Ashley Gonzales, Ashton McKeown, Mimi Rangel) placed three on the list while Cal Poly (Megan Abutin, Elise Krieghoff) had two. CSUN’s Taylor Hobson, UC Riverside’s Tyler Cunningham and Hawaii’s Storm Kenui rounded out the list.