#BigWestQuest Begins For Women's Soccer
2015 Big West Women's Soccer Weekly Release No. 1
Preseason Favorite: Cal Poly was selected as the preseason favorite to capture the 2015 Big West women’s soccer title as voted on by the nine head coaches. The Mustangs received three first-place votes in ballots for a total of 72 points.
Experienced: CP returns 25 letterwinners, including six Mustangs who received all-conference accolades last season: Elise Krieghoff, Robin Mertens, Alyssa Giannetti, Megan Abutin, Nicole Wheeler and Kendra Bonsall. Ten newcomers will join the veterans as CP looks for its ninth conference crown.
Krieghoff Comes In Hot: Senior forward, Elise Krieghoff, enters her final collegiate campaign tied for the third-highest goal total among all active Division I players (46). Her career netters is a Cal Poly-best while the senior is just 10 shy of setting a new conference mark. Krieghoff earned a 2015 preseason all-conference nod to add to her three first-team all-conference selections.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Defending Champions: Cal State Fullerton looks to repeat after claiming both the Big West Touranament title and the regular season title in 2014. CSF was picked to finish third in league after receiving three first-place nods for 68 points in the preseason poll.
Returners Ready To Rumble: Offensive Standout, Rebecca Wilson returns for the Titans after netting a conference second-best 10 goals in 2014 to help her team to victory. Coach Demian Brown and the squad will look to Wilson and reigning Tournament MVP, Christina Burkenroad, for offensive support. Burkenroad ended her junior campaign with four goals and six assists for 16 points.
The Road To Fullerton: After claiming the regilar season title a year ago, Fullerton will host the 2015 Big West Tournament in Titan Stadium Nov. 5-8. The Titans will host the league’s postseason action for the second time in three years. The Titans are 22-14-9 at home since 2011 and have not dropped a contest on home turf since Sept. 25, 2014 when Pepperdine edged CSF in a 1-0 finish.
CSUN Shines: CSUN was selected to finish fifth in the Big West Women’s Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll and received a first-place nod for 37 points. The Matadors look to build upon their 7-11-2 overall mark in 2014 and their 4-3-1 finish in league.
Veteran Group: CSUN returns four members of the 2014 All-Conference team in Taylor Hobson, Lyndsey Preston, Jovani McCaskill and Cynthia Sanchez. Five seniors will conclude their final seasons with CSUN as the Matadors look to build upon their 19 team goals a year ago. CSUN returns its top three goal-scorers in Preston, Sanchez and Tabatha Dickson who combined to net 8 of their team’s netters last year. While 12 Matadors were able to put a point on the board for their squad, their 11 goals scored in conference ranked fourth-best in league.
Postseason On The Pitch: CSUN comes off of its fifth appearance in the conference tournament over the last six seasons with coach Kieth West at the helm in his 10th season with the Matadors.
LONG BEACH STATE
In The Hunt: Long Beach State was picked to finish second in the preseason coaches poll with a total of 70 points and a first-place nod. The Beach fel to Cal State Fullerton in the championship game of the Big West Tournament just a season ago and is hungry to get back to the title match.
Back In Net: Reigning Goalkeeper of the Year, Ashton McKeown, will return in net for the 49ers and looks to anchor the Beach’s backline. McKeown logged 2016:43 minutes in goal, the most of all Big West goalkeepers, and posted 91 saves to set the league mark.
Makeup: Also returning for the Beach is reigning Midfielder of the Year in Mimi Rangel and Freshman of the Year in Ashley Gonzales. Gonzales led the 49ers with nine goals scored a year ago for third-best in conference.
Beach Vs Bruins: LBSU will be tested in the first week of play as the 49ers host No. 4 UCLA Friday evening at 7 pm at George Allen Field. The Beach has not been tested by a Pac-12 squad since LBSU beat Arizona 2-1 on August 17, 2012.
Aggies Primed For 2015: UC Davis will open its 2015 season with a test versus Santa Clara at home. The Aggies will host a total of 11 matches in the upcoming season where they were 2-4-3 on home turf in 2014. UCD is 11-9-4 at Aggie Soccer Field since 2011.
As Seen On The Pitch: Davis returns 15 letterwinners and will be joined by 10 newcomers. The Aggies welcome back nine starters after graduating two in 2014. Returning to action is Haley Hughes who knocked in four goals last season and recorded an assist for nine points. Joining Hughes is senior Sienna Dirizin who will look to be a force in the backfield.
Looking Ahead: The Aggies are looking to make their second conference tournament appearance in program history and their first since 2011. Davis is 18-40-7 all-time in the Big West and is in the hunt for its first-ever league title. The Aggies finished with a 5-11-3 overall mark in 2014 and went 2-4-2 in league for a seventh place. UCD received 25 points in the preseason coaches poll for a projected ninth place finish.
Anteaters On The Attack: UC Irvine looks to claim its first title since 2011 after being picked fourth in the preseason poll. The Anteaters received a first place nod and collected 50 points.
Guess Who’s Back, Back Again: UCI will look to returner Kiana Palacios, the team’s leading goal scorer with four last year, to spark things on offense while Irvine looks 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 in her career.
Roadies: After two games in Anteater Stadium to kick off the new season, the ’Eaters will embark upon a 24-day, four-state, eight-match roadtrip. Knocking out most of its non-conference slate, UCI will travel to Texas, Oregon, Florida and northern California. Irvine was 1-5-1 on the road last year compared to its 6-3-2 mark in Anteater Stadium.
Onward and Upward: UCI aims to return to tournament action after finish in fifth last season and just missing a trip to the Big West Tournament for just the second time in coach Juniper’s eight seasons at the helm.
Don’t Sleep On The Highlanders: UC Riverside returns 10 starters from 2014 and 18 letterwinners. After finishing 3-4-1 in league last season, UCR just missed a Big West Tournament nod after tying for fifth place in the league standings. Riverside remembers the 2013 postseason and wants back in tourney action. UCR will play a rematch of the 2013 Big West championship game on Oct. 18 at Cal State Fullerton, less than a month before the Titans host postseason action.
Riverside Returns: Among the returners for Riverside is senior Tyler Cunningham who recorded three goals and 10 assists in 2014 for 16 points which tied for the sixth-best mark in league. Right behind Cunningham in point-totals was Blanca Barrio who notched four goals and six assists for 14 points. Barrio will return for the Highlanders in the midfield along with Sammy Arellano and Tatum Lockett.
Preseason: UCR revceived 27 points in the preseason coaches poll and is projected to finish in eighth. The Highlanders placed Tyler Cunningham on the Preseason All-Conference Team.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Go Go Gaucho: UC Santa Barbara received 28 points to tie Hawai‘i for a projected sixth place finish in league as voted on by the Big West coaches in the preseason poll. UCSB ended the 2014 campaign with an 8-9-2 overall record, going 2-6-0 in league.
Tournament Tidbits: Santa Barbara looks to claim a spot in the Big West Tournament for the first time since 2009 when the Gauchos earned a three-seed and punched its ticket to the Big Dance after advancing on penalty kicks (5-4) over Cal Poly. The 2009 Tournament made it back-to-back titles for the Gauchos.
Goal Getters: The Gauchos found the back of the net 32 times in 2014, the most team goals scored in league. UCSB also posted the best shot percentage at .133. In the last five years, Santa Barbara has netted 98 goals and has increased its goal-total by at least 10 every year since 2011. The Gauchos upped their goal-total by 11 from 2013 to 2014, their greatest increase in that time span.
’Bows Won’t Back Down: After receiving 28 points in the preseason coaches poll, Hawai‘i was picked to finish sixth with UC Davis. The Rainbow Wahine also placed junior midfielder Storm Kenui on the Preseason All-Conference Team. Kenui also earned All-Big West Second-Team honors for her sophomore campaign. UH placed a total of five players on the list, three will return this season.
Fujimoto Back In Action: The Rainbow Wahine return 17 players for the 2015 campaign while Tiana Fujimoto will return to the pitch after a year hiatus due to injury. Fujimoto recorded a league second-best 10 goals in 2013, bested only by Cal Poly’s Elise Krieghoff. Fujimoto also recorded 32 shots and her seven game-winning goals were best in conference. The senior totaled 20 points and is out to help her team to victory.
Scheduling: UH will open its season with four games on the island for a total of 10 home games, the second-most in league just behind UC Davis who will play 12 at Aggie Soccer Field. The Rainbow Wahine will also host two tournaments to kick off 2015 action.