Big West Kicks Off 2011 Season Friday
Files associated with this release:
Women's Soccer Weekly Release No. 1
UC Irvine, nationally ranked in preseason polls by the NSCAA (No. 17) and Soccer America (No. 20), begins the 2011 season at the Texas A&M Invitational where the host and No. 11 Aggies await as part of a slate of 17 games during women soccer's opening weekend.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Natalia Ledezma, UC Irvine
UC Irvine led the Big West with 49 goals scored in 2010, but lost a chunk of that output with the graduation of Tanya Taylor (11 goals). Cue up Ledezma, a heralded transfer from UCLA who played in 18 games as a freshman. She made an immediate impact in her UCI debut with two goals in an exhibition win versus Fresno State.
Coaches Tab UC Irvine As Favorite To Win 2011 Title
The nine head coaches selected UC Irvine to win the 2011 Big West women’s soccer title in their annual preseason poll. The Anteaters collected seven of the nine first-place votes with Pacific and Cal Poly receiving one first-place vote apiece. UC Irvine garnered 78 total points followed by Long Beach State with 70. The coaches predicted a logjam in the middle of the pack as only eight points separated third through sixth place. Cal State Northridge was picked to finish third with 52 points, while Pacific was fourth with 51 points. UC Santa Barbara finished with 48 points for fifth place and Cal Poly was sixth with 44 points. Cal State Fullerton (34 points), UC Davis (18) and UC Riverside (10) rounded out the poll, respectively. UC Irvine returns seven starters from the 2010 squad that finished 19-3-2 overall and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
UC Irvine Ranked Nationally In Two Preseason Polls
UC Irvine will begin the 2011 season ranked in a pair of preseason polls. The Anteaters are ranked No. 17 by the NSCAA and No. 20 by Soccer America. UCI tied a Big West record for most wins in a single season with 19 last year and became the first team to finish conference play unbeaten and untied en route to a perfect 8-0-0 record. The team will encounter a formidable non-conference schedule that includes the likes of No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 15 Santa Clara, No. 1 Stanford and No. 7 Portland.
Returning All-League Talent Dots Big West Rosters
A total of seven players who earned All-Big West First Team acclaim in 2010 are slated to return to the pitch for at least another season. UC Irvine leads all Big West teams with three returning first-teamers while Long Beach State welcomes back two. In addition to the aforementioned Goodson, senior Judy Christopher and junior Mar Rodriguez return for the blue and gold. Christopher captured her second straight All-Big West First Team citation in 2010. Rodriguez posted six goals and three assists for the high-octane UCI offense to garner her initial first team nod. The 49ers welcome back junior Nadia Link (8g, 1a, 17 pts), who tied for third in the Big West in goals, and senior Shawna Gordon (4g, 7a, 15 pts), a two-time first team all-league choice who tied for second in assists. A pair of first team all-league defenders are also reappearing in seniors Brielle Slepicoff of Cal State Northridge and Aisha Lott of UC Davis.
Big West Tournament Features Top Four Teams
The 11th annual Big West Tournament will feature the top four teams from the final regular season standings with the winner securing the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Long Beach State was the 2010 champion, becoming the fifth different Big West school to hoist the trophy. The 49ers toppled Cal State Northridge (2-1) and top seed UC Irvine (1-0) to claim the crown. Once again, the No. 1 seed will host the No. 4 seed while the No. 2 seed will host the No. 3 seed. The highest remaining seeded team from the two semifinal matches will be the host for the championship. Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton top all programs with three tournament championships apiece.
Big West Challenges Ranked Foes Immediately
Big West teams are not easing into the season by any means as the non-conference schedule features a number of ranked opponents in the opening weekend of the 2011 season. UC Irvine travels to No. 11 Texas A&M as part of the Texas A&M Invitational while Pacific treks to No. 1 Stanford. Long Beach State faces No. 25 USC while Cal State Northridge hosts No. 9 UCLA. All four games pit the top four teams in the Big West preseason coaches poll against formidable competition, giving the league an early gauge of where it stands against the nation’s best.
Goodson Receives Multiple Preseason Honors
UC Irvine senior defender CoCo Goodson added to her résumé of accomplishments with her inclusion on a couple of prestigious lists. Goodson was one of 42 female athletes named to the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List for the 2011 season. The MAC Hermann Trophy is the highest individual award in intercollegiate soccer. Voting for the award is conducted in late November, when a field of 15 semifinalists is reduced to three finalists. Those three will be invited to the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis on Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, when the winner will be announced.
In addition, Goodson was one of 25 players selected as a Soccer America Preseason All-American. The native of Ramona, Calif. had a stellar 2010 season, earning NSCAA First Team All-American plaudits after scoring nine goals, including five-game winners. She became the first player in UCI and Big West history to be selected a first team All-American. Goodson enters the 2011 campaign as the conference’s top returner in goals and points (18).
Pacific Brings Back Top Two Offensive Threats
In 2010, Pacific’s offensive fortunes suffered as the Tigers scored just 16 goals in 19 matches (0.84 gpg) to rank eighth in the Big West. Despite those struggles, the Tigers possess the conference’s top two active leaders in career goals and points in seniors Kristina Wavomba and Angelica Figueroa. Wavomba is tops among returners on the Big West list in goals (15) and points (39), and the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2008 looks to improve upon her output of three goals from a year ago. Meanwhile, Figueroa’s 16 career assists ranks No. 1 among active players and puts her only three shy from entering Big West’s all-time top 10. The midfielder also ranks second among returners in career goals (11) and points (38).
Jacobo Excels In Goal For Matadors
Cal State Northridge looks to junior goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo as the centerpiece of the defense in 2011. Jacobo, the 2009 Big West Freshman of the Year and a two-time first team all-conference selection, racked up 1,843 minutes of net time in 2010 to rank fifth on the Big West single-season list. She owns career numbers of 12 shutouts and 0.89 goals against average. Her GAA is good enough to tie her for eighth in the Big West career record book, but she falls just short of the requisite 2,500 minutes played minimum.
Onward And Upward
Long Beach State looks to continue the program’s ascent into prominence after tying the school’s win mark in 2010 with a 14-6-2 record. Head coach Mauricio Ingrassia’s club exceeded expectations, finishing second in conference play (5-2-1) after being tabbed sixth in the preseason coaches poll. The 49ers went on to defeat regular season champion UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament championship match and secure their second NCAA Tournament berth in three seasons. Ingrassia has led LBSU to double-digit victories in five of his seven seasons, including a high of 14 wins on three separate occasions.