Aug. 14, 2006
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Four West Coast Conference women's soccer teams are ranked in Soccer Buzz' 2006 preseason poll. Santa Clara tops all WCC schools at No. 2, while defending national champion Portland is ranked No. 5. Pepperdine checks in at No. 20, while Gonzaga is ranked No. 25.
The WCC tied the Southeastern Conference for the second most teams ranked in the preseason top 25. In addition, the WCC was the only conference represented twice in the top five and also boasted the highest percentage of schools from one conference in the country with four of the eight league members earning recognition.
The No. 2 ranking is the highest SCU has been in any of the four national women's soccer polls since Soccer Buzz had the Broncos ranked second in its 2004 preseason poll. Santa Clara climbed as high as No. 3 last season after defeating then-No. 1 Notre Dame in September. SCU is also the No. 2 ranked team in the West Region, behind only UCLA, which opens the season ranked No. 1 in the nation.
The No. 5 ranking marks the fifth time in the last six years that the Pilots have earned a top five spot by Soccer Buzz in the preseason. The Pilots were the preseason No. 4 a year ago. Portland is also ranked No. 3 in the West Region rankings, as three of the top five ranked squads in the country reside in the west. The Pilots return eight starters from last year's championship squad and add the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation.
The Pepperdine women's soccer team, coming off a "Sweet 16" appearance in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, garnered a No. 20 national ranking in Soccer Buzz' 2006 preseason poll. The Waves also earned a No. 6 ranking in the West Region. Pepperdine is coming off a 15-4-3 season in which it finished fourth in the West Coast Conference (WCC) and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament where it lost to perennial national power North Carolina.
Gonzaga enters the season with its first-ever preseason national ranking, coming in at No. 25. Last season the Zags advanced to their inaugural NCAA Tournament as well as setting single-season program records for wins with 12, most consecutive wins with seven, most shutouts with 11 and their highest finish ever in the WCC with a 3-1-3 record for a third place showing.
2006 Soccer Buzz Preseason Top 25
2. Santa Clara
3. Notre Dame
4. Florida State
6. North Carolina
8. Penn State
9. Boston College
14. Texas A&M
21. West Virginia