Friday, September 20, 2013

INW 2013 College Preview: WAC, PAC-12 and MWC at a Glance

With conference play kicking off in the Western Athletic Conference this week, INWsoccernews continues its series of conference glances with the WAC, the Mountain West Conference and the PAC-12, each featuring one school in the region (series concludes with Big Sky next week).


Heading into their final season in the conference before they return to the Big Sky, the University of Idaho Vandals were picked in a tie to finish second in the conference along with Utah Valley. Seattle University was chosen in the preseason poll as the overwhelming favorite to win the title with six of the seven votes. Idaho's departure after the season continues a trend for the conference which over the offseason saw Denver, San Jose State, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, Utah State and Louisiana Tech leave and Bakersfield, Kansas City, Utah Valley and Grand Canyon enter.

It has been all downhill since Idaho opened with a 0-0 exhibition draw against Oklahoma, who are currently 3-5-0. The Vandals have not been able to pull themselves out of the loss column and have only four goals in seven games, though the last two were one-goal decisions in their only home contests of their preseason slate.

Idaho will looking to build momentum going into the conference campaign, taking advantage of three home games in the first eight days of their 12-game slate - all coming against the three schools picked to finish in the bottom three of the conference.

INW Players
University of Idaho (10) - Edna Ibarra (Bend, OR), Chelsie Breen (Cheney, WA), Mary Condon (Spokane, WA), Annie Millard (Spokane, WA), Breanna Wilson (Bend, OR), Katie Baran (Spokane, WA), Alyssa Lloyd (Spokane, WA), Josie Greenwood (Spokane, WA), Alyssa Pease (Bend, OR), Amanda Pease (Bend, OR); Grand Canyon University (1) - Riley Richardson (Spokane, WA); Seattle University (1) - Julia Moravic (Spokane, WA); Utah Valley (1) - Haley Curtis (Yakima, WA)


UCLA and Stanford were the clear favorites as the two split the entire contingent of first-place votes to finish first and second in the preseason coaches poll, respectively. Washington finished fourth and Washington State tied with Oregon State at sixth. Oregon was near the bottom at 11.

The 2013 campaign marks the second year soccer will be featured on the PAC-12 Networks, which launched just over a year ago. Soccer on Pac-12 Network:  WOMEN  |  MEN

Washington State has gotten off to a hot start to the season, going unbeaten at 5-0-2 through the first seven of nine non-conference bouts and outscoring the opposition 14-3 with five shutouts. Both draws came on the road. Micaela Castain has eight goals and three assists, playing a role in 11 of the team's 14 goals while Gurveen Clair has four shutouts and shared one other.

INW Players
Washington State University (2) - Korynn Blanksma (Wenatchee, WA), Delaney Zalud (Spokane, WA); Arizona (1) - Hayley Estopare (Bend, OR); University of Oregon (2) - Maryn Beutler (Bend, OR), Kristen Parr (Bend, OR); University of Utah (1) - Allie Wisner (Bozeman, MT)

** There are no INW players on the men's side of the PAC-12. **


Last season's champion San Diego State were a nearly unanimous choice in the preseason poll to win the conference again this year with New Mexico and UNLV getting the only other first-place votes. UNLV finished with the same amount of points in the poll as newcomers Utah State, winners of the WAC a year ago, with Boise State, tied for second a year ago with New Mexico, coming in at number five. San Jose State and Colorado State, the other newcomers, finished 9th and 11th in the poll.

Though they tied for second at 4-2-1 last year, the Broncos were knocked out in first round of conference tournament by Nevada and later released head coach Steve Lucas, bringing in University of Washington assistant Jim Thomas.

Thomas has the team looking good on the defensive end nearing the conference slate, sporting a 4-2-2 mark through eight of 10 non-conference contests and riding a run of five games in which they have allowed one goal total, thanks in part to goalkeeper Maddy McDevitt. Offense seems to be the missing ingredient for BSU as they have surpassed one goal in a game on only two occasions.

The Broncos open with two on the road, kicking off at UNLV, at the end of September before hosting three consecutive, but the best news is the three other teams above them in the preseason poll are the final three games of the season with San Diego and New Mexico both coming north to Boise.

INW Players
Boise State University (6) - Brooke Heidemann (Meridian, ID), Baylee Blaser (Boise, ID), Allie Cummins (Bend, OR), Hannah Frakes (Boise, ID), Andie Hill (Boise, ID), Kylie Mascol (Boise, ID).