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Pac-12 Preview: Stanford rules again?

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: August 15, 2016

Pac-12

2015 Conference Honors
Player of the Year: Arielle Ship, California
Defensive Player of the Year: Kayla Mills, USC
Freshman of the Year: Alana Cook, Stanford
Goalkeeper of the Year: Jane Campbell, Stanford
Coach of the Year: Paul Ratcliffe, Stanford

Teams (overall, conference record)
Stanford (19-2-2, 10-0-1)

Stanford claimed the Pac-12 title in 2015 over USC thanks to some young talent as well as steady play from Jane Campbell in goal. The Pac-12 coaches selected the Cardinal as the preseason favorite for the 2016 season. Stanford has won the title in five of the last seven seasons. Paul Ratcliffe’s dynasty is rolling right along and this season offers even more excitement for the fans on the Farm. Seniors Stephanie Amack, Maddie Bauer, and Campbell will be the foundation of the team, which should compliment a stacked recruiting class that has a number of immediate contributors.

USC (15-5-2, 9-2)

After finishing second in the Pac-12 in 2015, USC returns nine starters for this fall’s campaign. The core duo is Morgan Andrews and Kayla Mills who are studs and among the best in college soccer. Mills anchored a defense that was statistically the best in the Pac-12 last season, while the addition of transfers Leah Pruitt (if she's cleared to play) and Alex Anthony should provide another layer of goal-scoring options.

Washington State (14-6, 7-4)

Washington State, a Cinderella in recent seasons, is looking to turning the page and become a consistent giant in the Pac-12 this season. The Cougars finished third in the conference in 2015, and return eight starters. Key players Kaitlyn Johnson and Ella Dederick are back and ready to lead the group.

California (13-6-3, 6-4-1)

Arielle Ship is the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year and she is back for her senior campaign with the Golden Bears. Cal is far from a one-player team though, and there is a lot of talent on this squad. Emma Fletcher is one of the nation's premier midfielders, and Emily Boyd a premier option in goal.

Arizona (14-6-2, 6-4-1)

Tony Amato has brought a new life to the Arizona program and improved the record of the team in each season. If he keeps that streak alive, the Wildcats will finish in the top three in the conference this fall. Amato will be counting on junior Gabi Stoian to lead the way for the Wildcats.

Washington (12-7-2, 5-5-1)

With six seniors on the roster, Washington is counting on veteran experience to help get the group into the top four of the conference this fall. While the seniors have the title, it might juniors Kimberly Keever and Shannon Simon leading the way in the attack after bein ghte top two scorers last season.

Arizona State (9-8-1, 5-5-1)

Arizona State finished 2015 in strong fashion with five wins from the final six games including road wins over Washington and Arizona. The long layoff between the seasons makes it difficult to read too much into those results, but the learning from those road games could help Kevin Boyd’s squad prepare mentally for how challenging this conference will be this fall. The question for the Sun Devils is how they go about replacing the production from Cali Farquharson, who was a stud for the past four seasons.

UCLA (8-10-1, 4-6-1)

UCLA had a pretty disappointing 2015, but there is still definitely light at the end of the tunnel. Top recruit Mallory Pugh deferred her enrollment in Westwood until 2017, but there is still plenty to be excited about for this fall. Canadian superstar Jessie Fleming could be one of the best in college soccer immediately. U.S. youth national team attacker Darian Jenkins could be the one to benefit from the star in the midfield as she looks to be the key figure in the attack for UCLA this fall.

Utah (7-10-3, 4-7)

Utah is looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. Dutch midfielder Paola Van Der Veen made the Pac-12 Freshman Team last season and could be the key cog for the group this season.

Oregon (6-13, 3-8)

After finishing 10th in the league last season, the Oregon Ducks were selected to finish last in the Pac-12 by the coaches in the preseason poll. The low expectations should be a driving force for this group. Oregon has the talent to compete for a spot in the top half of the conference. Forward Marissa Everett has the ability to be one of the leading scorers in the one of college soccer’s toughest conferences.

Oregon State (6-10-3, 2-9)

Greta Espinoza led the way for Oregon State in 2015 as she played 1780 minutes and earned a spot on the Pac-12 Honorable Mention squad. The senior defender from Tijuana needs some support in the attack, as the Beavers leading scorer in 2015 only found the back of the net three times.

Colorado (7-10-3, 1-8-2)

Colorado is looking at two transfers to drive the squad this fall. Forward Emily Bruder and Megan Massey are quality players who should make the team much more comparative in 2016.

Related Topics: Pacific 12
 
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