July 30, 2002

Women's Soccer Picked to Win 2002 WCC Crown

July 30, 2002

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Coming off its first-ever national title in 2001, the Santa Clara women's soccer team was a unanimous choice by the other seven league coaches to repeat as WCC champs. The Broncos are fresh off a 23-2-0 season and their fifth trip to the national semifinals in six seasons. SCU will be without four-time all-American Danielle Slaton on defense, but return 2001 WCC Player of the Year and Honda Award winner Aly Wagner. Senior Devvyn Hawkins and junior Veronica Zepeda are expected to step into leadership roles for the Broncos this season, as both are coming off All-WCC performances in 2001.

Last year, Portland made its third appearance in the College Cup in the last four seasons. The Pilots, picked second in our preseason poll, return nine of their 11 starters from last year's team led by all-American forward Christine Sinclair. Saint Mary's enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2001, posting a 14-3-2 overall record and finishing with a No. 17 national ranking. All-WCC goalie Ruth Montgomery leads a Gaels squad picked to finish third by the coaches in league play.

Rounding out the top four in the 2002 WCC preseason poll are the Pepperdine Waves. The Waves earned their first-ever national ranking and NCAA tournament appearance in 2001, ending the year as the 21st-ranked team in the country. Another of the WCC's five 2001 NCAA participants were the San Diego Toreros, selected fifth in the WCC preseason poll. Coach Cossaboon needs to replace three All-WCC performers lost to graduation from last year's 14-6 squad.

Loyola Marymount, San Francisco, and Gonzaga round-out this year's poll. The Lions welcome the 28th-ranked recruiting class according to Soccer Buzz Magazine. In 2001, USF head coach Pam Kalinoski led the Lady Dons to their first winning record (9-8-1) since 1997. The Zags will try to turn things around in 2002 after suffering through a winless season last year.

The West Coast Conference experienced arguably its best season since beginning conference play in 1992. For the first time in league history--in any sport--the WCC landed five teams in the NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara and Portland advanced to the College Cup, while Pepperdine and Saint Mary's ventured into the second round and San Diego narrowly fell in the first round. The WCC finished the 2001 season as the second ranked women's soccer conference in the country behind the ACC.

The Broncos open the 2002 season against Bay Area rival Stanford on Friday, August 30. The match will take place at Buck Shaw Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

2002 West Coast Conference Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

1. Santa Clara (7) 49
2. Portland (1) 42
3. Saint Mary's 33
4. Pepperdine 31
5. San Diego 27
6. Loyola Marymount 20
7. San Francisco 11
8. Gonzaga 7

( ) first place votes