July 28, 2004
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The Santa Clara University men's soccer team was selected as the favorite to capture the 2004 West Coast Conference crown, as voted on by the conference coaches in the preseason poll. The Broncos garnered three first place votes to earn the preseason distinction.
Portland, who finished third in the conference a year ago, was selected to finish second by the conference coaches. Loyola Marymount, which received two first place votes, was chosen to finish third. Last year's second place team, San Diego was chosen to finish fourth in 2004, while San Francisco was selected to finish fifth. Saint Mary's and Gonzaga both received 11 points to tie for sixth in the preseason poll.
After posting a 5-1 record in conference action in 2003, the Broncos claimed the WCC title last season before making a run to the NCAA College Cup. Santa Clara advanced to the national semifinal match before falling to eventual National Champion Indiana in overtime. Santa Clara, which finished the season ranked fourth nationally, will return seven of it's eight top scorers from last year's 16-4-4 squad. First team All-WCC honoree and last season's leading scorer Will Weatherly will return to the Bronco arsenal. Second team selection Erik Ustruck and honorable mention honoree Kelechi Igwe will also lead a Santa Clara team that went unbeaten at home in 2003.
Portland was selected second in the poll after receiving two first place votes. The Pilots return nine starters including 2003 WCC Player of the Year Alejandro Salazar, along with their entire starting back line from last season.
Loyola Marymount, tabbed third, will look for its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004. Last season, the Broncos ended the Lions postseason run, handing them a 1-0 overtime defeat in the second round. LMU will return four All-WCC performers from last season's 12-7-1 squad, including first team selection Matt Kovar.
San Diego, voted fourth, returns 14 letterwinners from last season's 12-4-4 squad, which finished second in the conference standings and ranked 18th in the nation by Soccer Times. Headlining the list of returners are senior midfielder Kevin Wilson and sophomore goalkeeper Lance Friesz, both 2003 All-WCC selections..
Coming in at No. 5 in this year's poll is San Francisco, who returns 15 letterwinners from last year's squad that finished tied for third place in the conference. Gonzaga and Saint Mary's tied for sixth in the poll after finishing sixth and seventh in the WCC a year ago.
WCC Preseason Poll
|1.||Santa Clara (3)||33|
|3.||Loyola Marymount (2)||28|