Aug. 14, 2008
Coming off of an undefeated season in conference play and a trip to the third round of last year's NCAA Championship, Santa Clara University has been selected as the preseason favorite to take home the 2008 West Coast Conference regular season title, as voted on by the head coaches in the conference. The Broncos, who will be returning seven starters from last year's squad, received six first place votes for a total of 36 points. This marks the fourth time in the past five years that Santa Clara has been voted the preseason favorite.
"When you consider the fact that three teams out of seven made the NCAA tournament last year, double round robin play in the WCC is a definite proving ground," said Santa Clara head coach Cam Rast. "While we may be the favorite leading into conference play, as we all know any team will have to play well at home and on the road if they want a chance at the conference title."
Tabbed second was the University of San Diego, which totaled 30 points with one first place vote. Rounding out the top three was the University of Portland (25), which advanced to last year's NCAA Tournament. Behind Portland was the University of San Francisco (20), Loyola Marymount University (14), Gonzaga University (12), which also made the NCAA Tournament last year, and Saint Mary's College (10).
The Broncos return 15 letterwinners from last year's squad, including two of their top three scorers from last season. Leading the way for Santa Clara will be last year's WCC Freshman of the Year and All-WCC first team member, Jalil Anibaba (1g, 2a). Also expected to make contributions this year will be Stephen McCarthy (6g, 1a), a 2007 All- WCC second team selection, and Jide Ogunbiyi (6g, 2a), who earned honorable mention all-conference honors last season. The Broncos also welcome in the 9th best recruiting class in the country, according to Collegesoccernews.com.
The Toreros will be returning nine starters and 16 letterwinners from last year. San Diego returns two of the top defenders in the conference in senior Sam Reeder and junior Tim Grey, as both players earned All-WCC second team honors last season.
The Pilots, who return six starters and 16 letterwinners from last year, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. Headlining the list of returners for Portland is junior midfielder Collen Warner (3g, 4a) and sophomore goalkeeper Austin Guerrero, both of whom earned All-WCC first team honors last season.
The Dons, looking for their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last five years, return six starters and 18 letterwinners. Loyola Marymount returns six starters and 18 letterwinners, including sophomore forward/midfielder Rafael Baca, who was named to the All-WCC second team and the All-WCC freshman squad. Gonzaga looks to continue its success from last season after making the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history. However, the Zags must fill the gap left by the departure of 10 seniors from last year's squad. Saint Mary's will be led by junior midfielder Dylan Leslie, a 2007 All-WCC first team selection, and senior defender Corey Heldreth, an All-WCC second team member last season.
Men's Soccer 2008 Preseason Poll
1. Santa Clara - 36 (6)
2. San Diego - 30 (1)
3. Portland - 25
4. San Francisco - 20
5. Loyola Marymount - 14
6. Gonzaga - 12
7. Saint Mary's - 10
(First place votes)