(Photo: Steve Rodriguez/ASU Athletics)
With the start of Pac-12 conference games just days away, we take a more in depth look at one of the strongest leagues in women’s collegiate soccer.
This season is shaping up to be one of the best yet, as the Pac-12 has an astounding six players named to the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list. With that being said, the NSCAA Division 1 rankings as of Sept. 16 show that the Pac-12 showcases five nationally ranked teams in the top 25, with two others also receiving votes. The conference also holds an impressive five players on the U-23 United States Women’s National team, which is mainly composed of current collegiate players. UCLA is heavily favorited to win the Pac-12 and even the National Title itself, yet Stanford is ready to be a legitimate contender for the pair of trophies as well.
This weekend’s action is highlighted by the matchup of No. 15 ranked USC hosting No.12 Pepperdine, which will be played on the Pac-12 Network on Sunday at 3:30 PT. Looking at individuals throughout the conference, Arizona State’s own Cali Farquharson was named Offensive Player of the Week, scoring an incredible five goals and recording one assist. Kendall Romine and Jane Campbell of No. 4 Stanford were given Defensive and Goalkeeper of the week honors.
Currently, the Oregon State Beavers are the only team to be struggling with a losing record, as they most recently lost to Florida International by a score of 1-0.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12, every other team has a winning record and is looking to carry forward its non confernce success into Pac-12 play. What might be most impressive, is that the conference has a combined goal tally of 166 goals in a total of 79 games, while only conceding 59 goals.
This season should be one to remember, with the potential of a National Title coming back to the Pac-12 once again.
Pac-12 POWER RANKINGS
1. UCLA (6-0-1)
-With UCLA 2nd in the Pac-12 with the least goals allowed, it’s simple. If you don’t get scored on, you won’t lose. They aren’t leading in goals, but their defensive work wins games, which is why I see them on top.
2. Stanford (6-0-1)
-With MAC Hermann trophy candidates, Stanford should not be taken lightly. LaBonta in the midfield is the creative genius for this Stanford team. Look for her to be crucial in big game situations.
3. USC (5-0-2)
– This year the Trojans are still undefeated, and are looking to potentially be a big threat to this conference. They are nationally ranked and have been scoring a decent amount of goals. This could be their year to impress.
4. California (7-1-0)
– Cal’s offense has been strong this season, netting 20 goals. Their forwards are tall, strong, have pace, and have the ability to hold the ball up top to allow the midfielders to peel off of them. Their attack is their biggest asset.
5. Arizona State (6-1-1)
-ASU’s own Farquharson was given weekly honors, and is looking to be a constant threat throughout the season. ASU is leading in goals scored, but will have to keep that up if it expects to finish in the top of the Pac-12.
6. Washington State (5-0-2)
-Washington State has showed its ready to compete with its rivals in the Pac-12. They’ve conceded a minimal amount of goals and are ranked nationally now. A race for the Pac-12 title is very realistic, but it’s still early.
7. Arizona (4-1-1)
– Usually a middle of the pack team, they’re looking like a team ready to break out of its shell. The team’s impressive statistics compares to those of the top teams in the conference.
8. Washington (5-2-0)
– Although the Huskies may be conceding more goals than they’d like, their commitment to the game has driven them to score goals and keep themselves in games. This is a team that could surprise, but I see them as a middle of the table type of team.
9. Colorado (5-2-0)
– The Buffaloes have made a point to instill defensive discipline in their side, as they have only allowed four goals all season. They have a competitive spirit and could pull off a few upsets. I see Arizona, Washington, and Colorado all on the same page.
10. Utah (5-0-2)
– Although Utah has yet to lose, I don’t see its style of play necessarily being able to match up with the likes of UCLA or Stanford. Utah hasn’t conceded many goals, but finding the net is a bigger issue.
11. Oregon (4-3-1)
– The stats of the Ducks don’t really represent how they’ve been doing. They have been said to not be playing their brand of soccer, and the results haven’t been going their way. Without a major change to their tactics, the Ducks will be seen losing often.
12. Oregon State (0-6-2)
-Unfortunately, it’s that type of season for the Beavers. They’ve been quoted as coming out flat and giving up early leads, and not being able to capitalize on their chances. The difference between a good team, and a great team is being able to put the game away early. Oregon State is on track to finish at the bottom unless someone is able to put chances away.
You can reach Michelle Minahen on Twitter @Meechmina or via email at email@example.com