The Pac-12 has been the dominant conference in women’s Division I soccer over the past decade with five of the last 10 titles including the last two years with USC (2016) and Stanford (2017) being the most recent winners.
The Pac-12 will be at the top of the pile again in 2018. The Cardinal squad is deep and brought in a terrific recruiting class. UCLA restocked the roster with another wave of top recruits. USC brought in some top level transfers. Arizona, California, and much of the rest of the conference continued to build a program to compete with the best in the nation. This season is sure to be a memorable in the Pac-12.
2017 Pac-12 Standings
2017 Pac-12 Honors
Midfielder of the Year: Andi Sullivan, Stanfords(w)
Coach of the Year: Paul Ratcliffe, Stanford
What to know: Stanford opens the season as the unanimous No. 1 team in Division I. The Cardinal’s depth last season had some wondering if the Stanford reserves could’ve won every other conference in Division I. This year’s team features U.S. Women’s National Team defender Tierna Davidson and reigning Pac-12 Forward of the Year Catarina Macario. After losing only one game in 2017, there are some lofty expectations in place for this year’s group. Alison Jahansouz, Averie Collins, Alana Cook, Jordan DiBiasi, Tegan McGrady, and Michelle Xiao make up the senior class for the Cardinal.
Game to watch: vs. North Carolina, Sept. 9, 2:30 p.m. (PT)
Player to watch: Catarina Macario, Forward, Sophomore
What to know: Amanda Cromwell has been in charge in Westwood for five seasons. During that span, she has been in two National Championship games including last season. Cromwell wins games thanks to a sophisticated style of play and a commitment to recruiting some of the brightest soccer minds. Her squad this year lacks veteran leadership with only two seniors on the roster in Hailie ‘Goal Scoring Machine’ Mace and Julia Hernandez.
Game to watch: at Florida State, Sept. 2, 5 p.m. (ET)
Player to watch: Jessie Fleming, Midfielder, Junior
What to know: Natalie Jacobs and Alea Hyatt transferred to USC during the offseason. Adding two quality players with Youth National Team experience is a big get for the Trojans. Jacobs and Hyatt immediately improve the starting lineup and the depth on the team. USC also brought in some top recruits from the freshman class including U.S. U20 Women’s National Team forward Penelope Hocking who tends to score a lot of goals.
Game to watch: vs. Long Beach St., Sept. 14, 1 p.m. (PT)
Player to watch: Savannah DeMelo, Midfielder, Sophomore
What to know: Tony Amato, Paul Nagy, and the rest of the Arizona coaching staff have done a terrific job from recruiting, developing a culture, and implementing a playing style over their past five years in the desert. This year’s team is trying to build off a terrific campaign from 2017 (11-5-4, 7-2-2). Seniors Kennedy Kieneker and Lainey Burdett will need to get this freshman-heavy roster quickly ready for the campaign as the Wildcats need the newcomers to be standouts immediately.
Game to watch: vs. Baylor, Sept. 9, 2 p.m. (MST)
Player to watch: Lainey Burdett, Goalkeeper, Senior
What to know: There is no goalkeeper on the Cal roster with any experience at the Division I level. The big question for the Bears is who takes over that job in 2018. Brooke Lisowski (junior), Olivia Sekany (freshman), and Amanda Zodikoff (freshman) are the options on the roster this season although it seems like they are just place holders for Angelina Anderson’s arrival in 2019. If the Bears get the goalkeeper spot sorted, there is a bright spot at every other position on the field. The Bears could be a team to watch this fall in the Pac-12.
Game to watch: at Santa Clara, Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m. (PT)
Player to watch: Emily Smith, Defender, Sophomore
What to know: While California is searching for a goalkeeper, Colorado has one of the top keepers in Division I in Jalen Tompkins. She will make this team competitive in the conference for the next two seasons. The return of Jorian Baucom from injury and another season of dominance from Taylor Kornieck makes Colorado one of the teams to watch to sneak into the top three in the conference. Freshman Emily Groark could be a stud immediately too.
Game to watch: vs. Missouri, Aug. 25, 1 p.m. (MT)
Player to watch: Jalen Tompkins, Goalkeeper, Junior
What to know: Go Cougs! In a conference full of the Jones of college soccer, the Cougars have survived and thrived in the hustle. Outworking the competition kept Washington State in the hunt for spots in the NCAA Tournament. The success has translated into better recruiting classes in recent seasons (hello Gracie Armstrong and Molly Myers), which should continue to propel Washington State into the upper half of the conference as long as Todd Shuldenberger and Jon Harvey stick around.
Game to watch: at Minnesota, Aug. 26, 11 a.m. (PT)
Player to watch: Ella Dederick, Goalkeeper, Senior
What to know: Oregon State returns Allison Pantuso who led the team in minutes played last season with 1723. However, the Beavers lost a number of players who led them to an eighth place finish in the conference. The new season will offer a fresh opportunity for the program. After only scoring one goal in the first half in 2017, there is room to grow for the squad this season.
Game to watch: vs. Clemson, Aug. 17, 5 p.m. (PT)
Player to watch: Allison Pantuso, Midfielder, Senior
What to know: There is a lot of intelligence on the Washington sideline this season with the current staff adding former Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo to the staff as an assistant. The braintrust probably won’t need to think too hard to turn over the keys of this team to Summer Yates immediately. Yates is the present and future of the Huskies program.
Game to watch: vs. Wisconsin, Aug. 30, 8 p.m. (PT)
Player to watch: Summer Yates, Midfielder, Freshman
What to know: There’s high hopes for freshman Eva Van Deursen. Can she be the player to shepherd in a new era for the Sun Devils’ program? The ASU freshman class features players from Japan, Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, and England.
Game to watch: vs. Weber State, Sept. 16, 1 p.m. (MST)
Player to watch: Eva Van Deursen, Midfielder, Freshman
What to know: Oregon has some returning talent in Halla Hinriksdottir and Marissa Everett and also added some talent in new recruits Chai Cortez and Zoe Hasenauer. It might not be enough to get the Ducks near the top of the conference, but it could be enough to fight for a top six finish and a possible NCAA Tournament bid.
Game to watch: vs. Kansas, Aug. 26, 8 a.m. (PT)
Player to watch: Marissa Everett, Forward, Senior
What to know: Utah struggled mightily in conference play in 2017. The Utes only scored six goals and only picked up two points from 11 games. There’s a long way to go to get this team back into contention with the big dogs in the conference. Hailey Skolmoski had a big season last year with eight goals and an assist. The Utes will need her to step up the production against the in-conference foes this fall.
Game to watch: vs. BYU, Sept. 7, 7 p.m. (MT)
Player to watch: Hailey Stodden, Forward, Freshman