Women's Soccer Shares Top Spot in WCC Preseason Poll

Aug. 1, 2003

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Portland and Santa Clara, last year's NCAA College Cup finalists, were selected as the favorites to win the WCC women's soccer crown in the 2003 preseason poll, as selected by the league coaches. Portland and Santa Clara both received four first place votes to tie in this year's poll with 46 points each. Last season, the Pilots claimed the school's first-ever national title by beating Santa Clara 2-1 in double overtime in the College Cup finals. It marked the first time that two WCC schools squared off, in any sport, for a national championship, and just the third time ever that two teams from the same conference met in the women's College Cup finals.

Santa Clara, will be looking to advance to its third consecutive College Cup final, after winning the national title in 2001, and finishing as runner-ups last season. The Broncos return three All-Conference forwards in senior Veronica Zepeda, and juniors Leslie Osborne and Megan Kakadelas. Santa Clara will combine a core group of experienced veterans with the best recruiting class in the nation (Soccer America, Soccer Buzz) to make another run at a national title.

Portland returns the 2002 WCC Player of the Year, in junior forward Christine Sinclair, as well as 2002 WCC Freshman of the Year, Lindsey Huie. In just two seasons, Sinclair has amassed 49 career goals, which is good for seventh most in WCC history. With 26 goals last season, Sinclair tied for the most goals scored in the nation.

Pepperdine, the 2002 WCC co-champions with Santa Clara, was selected to finish third in the conference. After making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2001, the Waves advanced to the final 16 of last year's tournament and finished the season with a school record 18-2-2 mark and a top-10 national ranking. Pepperdine is the only school other than Portland and Santa Clara to win the WCC women's soccer title.

A pair of NCAA tournament participants were selected next as San Diego was picked to finish fourth, followed by Loyola Marymount at fifth. The Toreros have established themselves as regulars in the postseason, advancing to the last four NCAA tournaments. The Lions will be looking to get back to the NCAA tournament after breaking through with their first-ever postseason appearance in 2002.

Rounding out this year's poll is Saint Maryıs, San Francisco and Gonzaga. First-year Head Hoach Paul Sapsford will look to guide the Gaels back into the NCAA Tournament, while Gonzaga and USF have shown tremendous improvement under the guidance of head coaches Shannon Stiles and Pamela Kalinoski, respectively.

WCC Women's Soccer Preseason Poll

No. SchoolVotes
1. Portland (4)46
- Santa Clara (4)46
3. Pepperdine35
4. San Diego29
5. Loyola Marymount26
6. Saint Mary's22
7. San Francisco12
8. Gonzaga8

( ) = first place votes