Women's Soccer Season Is Upon Us
Women's Soccer Release No. 1
This Week in the Big West - August 18-24, 2014
The 2014 Big West women's soccer season kicks off this weekend with five matches against ranked opponents including No. 22 Bgirham Young at Big West Tournament champion Cal State Fullerton, CSUN at No. 7 Michigan, UC Irvine at No. 10 Santa Clara, Long Beach State at No. 20 Georgetown and UC Irvine at No. 1 UCLA.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Happy At Home: As the outright Big West regular season champion last season, the Mustangs will have home field advantage for the upcoming Big West Tournament upon their qualification for the tourney.
Giannetti Saves The Day: Junior goalkeeper Alyssa Giannetti leads all active members of the conference in career saves with 207 heading into 2014. Giannetti also ranks fifth in the conference in minutes played (1781:41) and tenth in goals against average (1.66).
Game Changer: Big West Conference Player of the Year Elise Krieghoff, who led the nation as a sophomore in goals scored having found the net 21 times to pace the country, will anchor the Mustang offense at the top. The junior was named to the NSCAA All-West Region First Team and her 21 goals broke a 21-year old program record at Cal Poly. Krieghoff received five Big West player of the week honors to set a new conference record for the most recognitions in a single season and stands at third all-time in Big West history with her sophomore campaign goal-total.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Worthy Competitors: As the reigning Big West Tournament Champion, Cal State Fullerton prepares for one of the most challenging schedules the Titans have ever played as they take on programs such as BYU, Denver, Michigan State and Georgia. The collective record of the four opponents in 2013 was 49-26-13.
Follow The Leader: Forward Rebecca Wilson, who suffered a season-ending injury in 2013, will be back on the pitch this fall and has been named a captain alongside Morgan Batcheller and Chelsey Patterson. The three will play a large role in filling upperclassman vacancies left by Erica Mazeau, Nikki McCants and Janali West. The three who will anchor the Titans this season combined for four goals, one game-winner and eight points in 2013.
Upperclassman On The Attack: Christina Burkenroad. The sophomore netted two goals in 2013 and is expected to play a big role in the Titans’ attack this season. Coach Demian Brown says, “Her junior year is the right time to step up and really make a name for herself.”
Rebound Time?: In 2011, the Matadors finished 7-10-2 overall and 4-3-1 in conference. Just a season later, CSUN improved with an 11-win campaign and lost just one league match (6-1-2) under coach West. Although CSUN’s league winning percentage (.188) last year was its lowest since joining the Big West, perhaps Matador fans can expect a similar pattern and an upswing in victories this season.
Chart Topper: Redshirt senior Brittanie Sakajian ranks among the active Big West career leaders in five offensive categories heading into the 2014 season, including No. 6 in goals scored (8), tied for No. 4 in assists (8), No. 6 in points (24), No. 5 in shots (84) and No. 6 in game-winning goals (3). Said coach Keith West, “We’re expecting this year to be her best year.” The veteran is also on the verge of breaking into the top 10 in the CSUN record book in multiple categories that include goals (two shy), assists (one shy) and points (four shy).
Defensive State Of Mind: Goalkeeper Cynthia Tafoya ranked fifth in the conference last season with 59 saves.
LONG BEACH STATE
Veteran Vitality: Long Beach State returns seven starters including Mimi Rangel, Taylor Nelson, First Team All-Big West junior Elizabeth Lyons and All-Freshman honoree Mimi Akaogi. This looks to be a more veteran squad than Mauricio Ingrassia has had the past couple of years, and he’s looking to those veterans to bring a sense of maturity to lead the seven newcomers, six of whom are freshmen.
Wrangling Her Way To The Top: After being named the 2013-14 Freshman of the Year, expect sophomore Mimi Rangel to come out of the blocks just as fast in her sophomore campaign. The midfielder led the 49ers with five goals and four assists for a 14-point total last season. Rangel’s five goals ranked fifth in league while her 14 points tied for fourth-best in the conference. With just a single season under her belt, Rangel is already ranked sixth among active Big West players with three career game-winning goals.
Golden Gloves: Look out for junior goalkeeper Kaci McCain who posted a 0.90 goals against average last season which ranked seventh in LBSU single-season history and third-best in the Big West.
New Aggie Era: In her first season at the helm, head coach Twila Kaufman brings extensive experience, including four trips to the NCAA Tournament and a Sweet 16 appearance during her 10 years at Pepperdine. As the fifth head coach in UC Davis history, Kaufman comes in on the heels of Maryclaire Robinson, who amassed nearly 200 victories in her 22 years and is the winningest coach in Aggie history.
New Blood: With 11 players in the 2014 signing class, Kaufman expects some of the new faces to contribute right off the bat. Expect to see Rachel Smith from USC, Celina Minissian from Saint Mary’s and Lindsay Johansen from Arkansas State to play big roles for the Aggies.
Diverse and Dangerous: Look out for an athletically diverse squad on the field this season. Returners Ana Marija Sola, Mari Pastor, Ashley Kawasaki and Emma Tinloy bring a vital sense of rhythm and pace to the game along with high soccer IQs while others contribute speed and size.
Holy McGRAIL: UCI returns senior Laura McGrail, who paced the Anteaters with seven goals in 2013, a total which ranked third in the Big West. Coach Scott Juniper emphasized that McGrail will help lead a deep offensive blend of returners and newcomers alike. Irvine netted a total of 29 goals last season, the second-highest total just behind Cal Poly’s 33.
Two Is Better Than One: Last season junior Corey Tobin and senior Jennifer Randazzo battled every week for the starting goalkeeper position. Tobin recorded 1001 minutes while Randazzo recorded 635 between the posts. While both bring different skills to the table, Juniper stresses that the starting role will be determined on a week-to-week basis as practices will determine who starts that weekend.
Balancing Act: Irvine led the conference in shots on goal (49), shots per game (12.9) and overall shots (103) and look to continue to be a great offensive threat as they bolster their backline. The team posted five shutouts last season and will work to further strengthen its defense in 2014.
Goal-Getters: While the team netted 22 goals in 2013, which ranked third in the conference, the Highlanders stress the importance of tightening their defense having allowed 34 goals last season, the most of any in the Big West. But as far as offense goes, two players who will be key to the team’s offensive efforts are junior Tyler Cunningham, who led the Highlanders with five goals and 10 points in 2013, and UCLA transfer Tayler Dragoo.
Older and Wiser: While the Highlanders started all underclassmen in the conference tournament title game in 2013, Riverside looks forward to starting a more mature squad this season as they face two opponents that appeared in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Tournament Time: UCR made its first appearance in the Big West Tournament championship match last season, since 2005, getting within two kicks of the Tournament after the game went into penalty kicks in Titan Stadium. While the Highlanders’ ultimate goal was to earn a spot in the BWT, this season Riverside knows it has the potential to make it all of the way to the NCAA Tourney.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Ritter The Riddler: Junior goalkeeper Beth Ritter, who posted eight shutouts last season, helped the team to a .474 shutout percentage, the best in the Big West, which ranked 49th in the country at the end of 2013 (nine shutouts in 19 games). While just 5’4”, coach Paul Stumpf emphasizes that what Ritter lacks in size she makes up for in speed and in reading the field.
Dominating Defense: The Gauchos allowed just 17 goals to pace the league last season and recorded the second-best team goals against average at 0.87. Having allowed just 65 corner kicks, the Gauchos recorded the third-best mark in the category.
Role Play: Four field players return and are expected to make great contributions in seniors Miranda Cornejo, Kelly McGrath and Indiana Mead and sophomore Morgan Indso. Cornejo will anchor the middle back in a critical manner while McGrath is poised to hold her own after an injury in conference play prematurely ended her junior season. Indso and Mead will contribute to the offensive efforts.
Berger in the Back: As a freshman, goalkeeper Monk Berger posted a 1.00 goals against average, the fourth-best mark in the league en route to breaking Hawaii’s program record for shutouts in a single season with seven.
Fight For Fourth: The Rainbow Wahine finished fifth in league a season ago, having improved upon their sixth place record from UH’s inaugural season in the Big West in 2012. If Hawai‘i can contiue the trend, look to see UH in the Big West Tournament this fall in San Luis Obispo.
Open Offense: After Tiana Fujimoto sustained an injury that will keep her from seeing the pitch this fall, UH looks to its offense to step in and score goals. Fujimoto led the Rainbow Wahine with 10 goals in 2013, the second-best total in league. Four other players found the back of the net for a collective total at seven goals.
Pace is Power: As emphasized by coach Michele Nagamine, UH looks to work on composure heading into the season. While known to play quick and enthused, Nagamine stressed the importance of slowing the game’s rhythm.