Long Beach State One Vote Shy of Perfect Preseason Poll
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The Long Beach State women’s soccer team was a near unanimous pick of the 10 conference coaches as the favorite to capture the 2012 regular season championship in today’s annual preseason poll.
The 49ers captured nine of the 10 first-place votes while 2011 conference champion UC Irvine collected the other top vote. LBSU totaled 99 points, followed by UCI with 86 and Cal State Fullerton in third with 71. Right behind was Cal State Northridge in fourth place with 69 points, while UC Santa Barbara was predicted fifth with 53 points and Cal Poly sixth with 48. UC Davis and Pacific were paired at 44 points each, while UC Riverside and new conference member Hawaii tied at 18 apiece to close out the poll, respectively.
Long Beach State looks to continue its hot streak from last season, recording the winningest season in program history at 18-6-1. Finishing second in the regular season standings, the 49ers fought hard in the Big West Tournament to claim their second straight title with a 1-0 win over conference rival UCI. The 49ers then reeled off three consecutive wins in the NCAA Tournament to reach the Elite Eight, where they fell 2-0 to Duke. It was the furthest a Big West squad had advanced in the NCAA Tournament and the 49ers had compiled a school record eight-game winning streak prior to the encounter with the Blue Devils.
Senior Nadia Link is expected to lead the 49ers once again in 2012. Link, who captured multiple postseason awards in 2011, was named a third team NSCAA/Continental Tire All-American in addition to claiming first team All-West Region and Big West Offensive Player of the Year laurels. Link topped the Big West in goals (16), assists (10) and points (42) last season. She enters the 2012 campaign as the conference’s active career leader with 24 goals and 59 points. Her 11 career assists is second among current Big West players.
Defending two-time regular season champion UC Irvine hopes to continue its conference dominance despite graduating seven players from the 2011 squad. The Anteaters overcome a rough start to the conference season, bouncing back with six straight wins against league opponents and outscoring them 15-1. The strong finish gave the Anteaters a league-best 19 points and 6-1-1 record. The ‘Eaters lost 1-0 in the conference tournament final but earned their second straight at large appearance to the NCAA Tournament.
Senior Ann Marie Tangorra leads Cal State Fullerton after tying for 10th in the Big West with 16 points (5 G, 6 A) last year. Cal State Northridge returns 2011 Big West Goalkeeper of the Year Cynthia Jacobo, an All-Big West First Team selection who compiled 60 saves and a 1.47 goals against average.
This season the coaches voted on a 12-player preseason all-conference team that included a group of 2011 standouts led by Link, UC Irvine midfielder Cami Privett, Long Beach State defender Alex Balcer and Jacobo of Cal State Northridge.
2012 Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Long Beach State (9)
2. UC Irvine (1)
3. Cal State Fullerton
4. Cal State Northridge
5. UC Santa Barbara
6. Cal Poly
7. UC Davis
9. UC Riverside
2012 Preseason All-Conference
Nadia Link, Long Beach State, Senior
Natalia Ledezma, UC Irvine, Junior
Ann Marie Tangorra, Cal State Fullerton, Senior
Cami Privett, UC Irvine, Sophomore
Cici Kobinski, Cal Poly, Junior
Erin Ortega, UC Santa Barbara, Senior
Alex Balcer, Long Beach State, Senior
Brittni Beeman, Pacific, Junior
Katie Russ, Cal State Northridge, Senior
Mary Beth Mazurek, UC Davis, Junior
Cynthia Jacobo, Cal State Northridge, Senior
Makenna Henry, UC Santa Barbara, Junior