NCAA West Women’s and Men’s Soccer Previews
Posted on August 19, 2022
As football season gets into full swing so do all the other NCAA fall sports, including women’s and men’s soccer.
Women’s teams across the nation have completed their exhibitions and will open regular-season play this weekend.
The men will hit the pitch with games that count for the first time next weekend.
Here we preview a few teams from the west and highlight some individuals to keep an eye on.
Last season the region saw a pair of teams come up just short in the College Cup finals as BYU fell to Florida State on penalty kicks in the Championship game.
The blue-and-white Cougars defeated Santa Clara in the final four.
On the Men’s side, it was Washington falling to Clemson in the final 2-0. Clemson also got the best of Oregon State on PK’s in the regional final.
The success of last season appears maintainable from the vantage point of the preseason.
The Women’s United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25 features seven teams from west of the Rockies.
No. 3 BYU lost its top two scorers from last season but does return Brecken Mozingo. The UCLA transfer netted seven goals and nine assists for the Cougars last season.
The defense is loaded for another strong season with Olivia Smith and Laveni Vaka returning in the back.
Santa Clara enters the season fifth in the nation. The Broncos have won the WCC and been in the College Cup each of the last two seasons, with a 2020 title to their credit.
Last year, the Broncos scored 40 goals, good for 1.74 per match, while allowing just 19, .83 per match. They outshot opponents nearly two-to-one at 377-196 and in shots on goal at 185-90.
Izzy D’Aquila and Sally Menti are the top returners.
USC returns an All-American in Croix Bethune, the reigning Pac-12 midfielder of the year. She netted 16 goals on the year last season, the third highest single-season total in Trojan history.
The Trojans are 12th nationally to open the 2022 campaign.
UCLA is ranked 13th in the nation to open the season. The back-to-back Pac-12 champions return three of their top five scorers from last year’s unit including second-leading goal scorer Reilyn Turner.
The Bruins have posted a 17-1-4 conference record over the last two seasons.
The third WCC team ranked in the preseason is Pepperdine at 17th. The Waves are coming off one of the best seasons in program history with a 17-4-1 record in 2021.
Trinity Watson (defender), Carlee Giammona (midfield), and Tori Waldeck (forward) were all recognized as players to watch nationally at their respective positions.
Washington State is 20th in the opening USC poll after the Cougars went 7-3-1 in Pac-12 play last season.
The seven conference wins equaled a program record while the .773-win percentage in conference play was the best in Cougar history.
Last season the crimson-and-gray Cougs were one of the best defensive teams in the country, finishing the year with 12 shutouts and just 13 total goals allowed for a 0.59 GAA, the second-best goals-against average in program history.
Wazzu returns eight starters from last season, including Pac-12 goalie and Freshman of the Year Nadia Cooper.
Stanford has a returning All-American Third-Teamer in Maya Doms as the Cardinal come into 2022 ranked 21st in the nation.
The Cardinal were tabbed as conference favorites by the league’s coaches this preseason.
Doms, a three-time all-conference pick, led Stanford in goals with 11 and 25-points last season and netted three game-winners for Stanford a year ago.
Arizona State returns the nation’s leading goal scorer from last season in Nicole Douglas.
Douglas led the nation with 19 goals last season combined with her seven assists on the year the Sun Devil tied for second nationally with 45 points on the season.
She is poised this season to become the leading all-time scorer in Sun Devil history. Douglas is four goals behind Stacey Tullock’s all-time mark of 50 and 16 points adrift of Tullock’s 125 career points from 1998-2001.
The Men’s United Soccer Coaches Top-25 includes four teams from the region with Washington and Oregon State again leading the way.
The Huskies are coming off an 18-2-2 season finishing just short of the title to Clemson open the season third in the preseason poll.
Washington had the stingiest defense in the Pac-12 last season but lose the Pac-12 defensive player of the year in Ryan Sailor.
They do return keeper Sam Fowler, whose .74 individual GAA was eighth nationally. The Huskies were selected as co-favorites to win the Pac-12 in the preseason voting coaches.
Oregon State saw their 2021 season end on penalty kicks at the hands of eventual champion Clemson in the regional finals.
The Beavers open 2022 ranked fifth in the nation and share the preseason favorite designation to win the Pac-12 by a vote of the league’s coaches.
Oregon State had the best year in program history last season, winning its first-ever Pac-12 title on its way to the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and an appearance.
The Beavs lost 2021 Pac-12 Player of the Year Sofiane Djeffal and Offensive Player of the Year Tyrone Mondi, but do return the 2021 Conference Freshman of the Year in Midfielder Joran Gerbet.
The Valence, France, native was a defensive stopper in the middle for a team that allowed just 17 goals in 20 games in 2021.
Santa Clara is slotted at 22nd in the nation to start the season. The reigning WCC Champs are led by Defender Damani Osei and Forward Oladayo Thomas.
Thomas led the WCC in points (26), goals (nine), and shots (52) while finishing second in assists (eight) last fall. Osei was the anchor of a Broncos defense that allowed just under a goal per game in 2021.
UCLA returns seven starters from last season, including the top six points-scorers, and enters the year 23rd in the opening poll.
The Bruins scored 33 goals last season and return the scorers of all but two of those goals. Tommy Silva and Kevin Diaz were the leading goal scorers for UCLA last season with six a piece.
The Bruins will see a new Number One goalie this season as Justin Garces, the main starter between the pipes, has graduated.
Grand Canyon opens the season just outside of the Top 25 as the top team receiving votes.
The Coyotes have the WAC preseason Offensive Player of the Year in Shaun Joash. Seattle, while not receiving votes, were selected by the WAC Coaches as the favorites.
The Redhawks have the best keeper in the WAC as selected by the coaches in Akili Kasim.
Another team to watch for is Portland. The Pilots are tabbed as WCC favorites ahead of Santa Clara, have a top-notch keeper in George Tasouris, and talent at the top of the formation in Jake Arteaga.