Women's Soccer Season Kicks Off This Weekend
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This Week in the Big West - August 19-25, 2013
Women's Soccer Release No. 1
The 2013 Big West women's soccer season begins this week with four matches against ranked opponents, including No. 20 Cal at UC Irvine and No. 21 UCF at Hawai‘i. Cal State Fullerton, last year's regular season champion, travels to No. 6 BYU. Tournament titlist Cal State Northridge opens at No. 5 UCLA.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
For Openers: Cal Poly begins the 2013 season at home against Loyola Marymount on Friday. The Mustangs are looking to win their third consecutive season opener after knocking off the Lions last year and Cincinnati in 2011. This season marks the first time since 2009 that Cal Poly has opened at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Krieghoff Looks For Encore: The Mustangs are expected to have a potent offense and much of that optimism can be attributed to the return of forward Elise Krieghoff. The 2012 Big West Freshman of the Year, Krieghoff led the conference with 11 goals, which tied for the fifth-most in school history. Her 22 points ranked second in the Big West.
Giannetti The Protector: Sophomore goalkeeper Alyssa Giannetti anchors the Mustang defense. She topped the Big West in both saves (123) and saves per game (6.47) in 2012. The 123 saves also established a Cal Poly single-season record. In addition, Giannetti’s .788 save percentage was the third-best in the Big West.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
For Openers: Cal State Fullerton, picked to win the Big West regular season title in the preseason coaches’ poll, opens the season with a tough matchup at No. 6 BYU on Friday. The Titans are 0-3-1 in their last four season openers. CSF’s last appearance in Provo resulted in a 2-1 loss in 2011.
Burkenroad Paves The Way: The Titans graduated their top two goal scorers from a year ago, but the cupboard is not empty. Sophomore Christina Burkenroad returns after ranking third on the Titans in both goals (5) and points (12) in 2012.
Brown On The Rise: Demian Brown captured 2012 Big West Coach of the Year honors after leading the Titans to the regular season conference title. Now in his seventh season at the helm, Brown also collected career win No. 50 in last year’s regular season finale against Pacific.
D-Fense: Senior netminder Lindsey Maricic sported the league’s third-best goals against average (0.98) in 2012.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
For Openers: Head coach Keith West didn’t hold back when he put together the 2013 Matador schedule. The squad faces three Pac-12 schools on the road in successive fashion with Arizona State and No. 5 UCLA starting things off this weekend. The following weekend CSUN battles USC before playing its fourth straight road tilt against San Diego.
McDaniel Returns As Defensive Anchor: Cal State Northridge senior defender Chloe McDaniel solidifies a backline that contributed to a league-low 0.64 goals against average last year. McDaniel, the 2012 Big West Defensive Player of the Year, also added five points on two goals and one assist.
New Goalie To Inhabit Spotlight: The Matadors no longer have the services of four-year starting goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo, who graduated as the school’s all-time leader in wins and shutouts. The competition to identify the new starter is wide open, but freshman Rebecca Harper played a total of 80 minutes and made four saves in CSUN’s 1-1 tie against Seattle in an exhibition game on Saturday.
LONG BEACH STATE
For Openers: The 49ers have won six of their last seven season openers and hope to continue the successful trend when they host Northern Arizona on Friday.
Replace The Missing Link: Two-time Big West Offensive Player of the Year and NSCAA All-American Nadia Link exhausted her eligibility and therefore cannot terrorize opponents in 2013. But the 49ers have candidates to mitigate the sting of that loss, most notably senior Eileen Maes. The Washington State transfer notched nine goals – second-most in the Big West – and captured all-conference second team acclaim in 2012.
Expectations High For 49ers: Long Beach State has made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and has finished with double-digit wins in seven of the last eight seasons. Three 49ers look to spearhead continued success as members of the Big West Preseason All-Conference Team – Maes, sophomore forward Elizabeth Lyons and junior midfielder Taylor Nelson. The 49ers were the only school to have three players on the 12-member team.
For Openers: The Aggies are unbeaten in their last four season openers (3-0-1), including victories in the last three. For the first time since 2010, UC Davis opens a campaign against Causeway Cup rival Sacramento State.
Edwards Leads Offensive Attack: Senior Ashley Edwards, a preseason All-Big West selection, is set to lead the Aggie offense in 2013. Her seven goals led the Aggies and tied for sixth in the Big West last season. Edwards has increased her goal scoring output in each of her first three years in the program, and now has 11 career goals.
Robinson On Verge Of Career Milestone: Maryclaire Robinson enters her 22nd season as head coach of the UC Davis program. Robinson is six wins away from collecting No. 200 for her career. She owns an all-time mark of 194-160-31.
Road Warriors: UC Davis plays 10 of its first 12 games of the season on a neutral or true road site.
For Openers: UC Irvine celebrates its 30th season as a women’s soccer program with a showdown to start out the campaign. No. 20 Cal visits Anteater Stadium Friday. Ranked opponents are the norm for UCI. In 2012, the Anteaters posted a 2-3 record against ranked foes.
Ledezma In The Mix: Senior Natalia Ledezma, a two-time first team all-conference selection, headlines the UCI offense in 2013. Ledezma tied for the team lead with 12 points last season. With 14 career assists, the forward is just six shy of entering the Big West top 10.
Juniper Second In Winning Percentage: Scott Juniper, entering his seventh season at the UCI helm, has built one of the top programs in the Big West. His .694 winning percentage (30-11-8) in conference games ranks second all-time among Big West coaches.
McGrail Is Back: UCI also benefits from the return of junior forward Laura McGrail, who led the team with six goals last season. Four of those goals were game-winners.
For Openers: For the third in the last four seasons, UC Riverside is set to begin the season against UNLV. The Highlanders lost season openers against the Rebels in 2010 and 2011. The Highlanders won their opener last year against Cal State Bakersfield.
Building Blocks: The Highlanders bring back most of the goal scoring nucleus from last year’s team that posted a 7-10-3 mark. Co-leading scorers Andrea Morales and Crystal Lopez, with four goals apiece, return to the squad for their senior and sophomore seasons, respectively. In addition, juniors Celina Valencia and Kaitlin Anzalone notched three goals apiece in 2012.
Home Cooking: The Highlanders play 10 matches at UC Riverside Soccer Stadium this year. In addition to UNLV, the Highlanders host Northern Arizona, Fresno State, Tulsa, Gonzaga and Montana during the non-conference slate. UCR also has defending regular season champion Cal State Fullerton and tournament champion Cal State Northridge on its home Big West slate.
UC SANTA BARBARA
For Openers: UC Santa Barbara is opening at home for the third straight season, welcoming Fresno State to Harder Stadium on Friday. The Gauchos then head out on the road for three straight against Weber State, Southern Utah and Loyola Marymount.
Goal Scorers Wanted: The Gauchos had trouble putting the ball in the back of the net last season, collecting 19 goals in 19 matches. UCSB scored one goal or less on 15 different occasions. A pair of freshmen led them in scoring as Sara Feder and Angelisa Cortez combined for seven goals.
Henry Stakes Claim To Goaltender Duties: Senior Makenna Henry was one of the busier goalkeepers in the Big West last season as she made 93 saves for the fourth-highest total in the league. Henry has 14 career shutouts and needs eight this season to break into the Big West top 10.
Schedule Note: UCSB is one of only two teams – UC Davis the other – to play former Big West member Pacific on the 2013 schedule.
For Openers: Hawai‘i begins its second season of Big West action with an annual tournament on tap. The UH-hosted OHANA Hotels No Ka Oi features UNC-Greensboro and No. 21 Central Florida in the field. Last season, the Rainbow Warriors lost their season opener at Nevada.
Lethal Foot: Although she might be smaller in stature at 5-feet tall, there’s no question that junior forward Tiana Fujimoto is one of the top attackers in the Big West. She proved that last season with eight goals, tops on the UH squad and tied for third in the Big West. Fujimoto is accurate around the box as well. Of her 33 shots taken, 23 were on frame last year.
Pascua Sisters Unite: Junior midfielder Krystal Pascua played a key role on the 2012 team with a team second-best tying four goals. She added three assists for 11 points. Now she gets to play with her sister, Kama, who begins her freshman campaign. The two also played high school ball together at ‘Iolani School in Waipahu, O’ahu.