Women’s college soccer starts for real on Friday night. Of course, we’ve been talking about it in detail for the past month. Here is a collection of our conference previews and league title predictions from ESNN staff members. Just scroll down..America EastCaroline Yort: HartfordJ.R. Eskilson: HartfordRobert Ziegler: Boston UniversityTravis Clark: Boston UniversityBlurb: Because of Boston’s switch to the Patriot League, the team has been ruled out of competing in the conference tournament, but the Terriers should have the firepower to snag the regular season honors. Hartford won’t go down without a fight, of course.America East previewAtlantic 10
Caroline Yort: La SalleJ.R. Eskilson: DaytonRobert Ziegler: DaytonTravis Clark: RichmondBlurb: The addition of VCU to this group is surely to be an intriguing move, as the rising program fared well in the CAA last year and will now get used to new competition. However, the repeat of La Salle wouldn’t be a shock, and Richmond is likely to find a way to stay in the mix as well.ACCCaroline Yort: DukeJ.R. Eskilson: North CarolinaRobert Ziegler: Wake ForestTravis Clark: Wake ForestBlurb: Who emerges on top this fall in the ACC? It’s going to be another doozy of a season once again, and it looks difficult to separate the traditional powers -- both Duke and Wake Forest enter with nearly their entire starting lineup returning, while Florida State and North Carolina both looking dangerous and lurking in the background.ACC PreviewAtlantic SunCaroline Yort: JacksonvilleJ.R. Eskilson: East Tennessee StateRobert Ziegler: East Tennessee StateTravis Clark: Florida Gulf Coast(w)Blurb: Florida Gulf Coast, East Tennessee State and Jacksonville ended in a 3-way tie for last year’s regular season crown, with the Eagles prevailing. Each team figures to be strong again and North Florida will be knocking on the title door as well.Atlantic Sun PreviewBig 12Caroline Yort: West VirginiaJ.R. Eskilson: Oklahoma StateRobert Ziegler: Oklahoma StateTravis Clark: West VirginiaBlurb: Texas A&M and Missouri leave, but West Virginia and TCU enter. The Mountaineers will be strong contenders for the title, while Oklahoma State looks retain national title contender status despite some key departures. Kansas and Baylor will also be good and a number of new coaches arriving promise to help make the conference title race an interesting one indeed.Big 12 PreviewBig EastCaroline Yort: Louisville (National), Marquette (American)J.R. Eskilson: Notre Dame (National), Marquette (American)Robert Ziegler: Notre Dame (National), Marquette (American)Travis Clark: Rutgers (National), Marquette (American)Blurb: It should be another entertaining race to the top of the Big East, with quite the talent swell coming into the conference ranks. Notre Dame should be improved and will make things all the more interesting, although expectations are high for Marquette as well as LouisvilleBig East PreviewBig SkyCaroline Yort: MontanaJ.R. Eskilson: Portland StateRobert Ziegler: Sacramento StateTravis Clark: Northern ColoradoBlurb: One of the most difficult conferences to predict, travel demands of this particular conference make it a particularly tough nut to crack. As you can see, expect to see one of Montana, Northern Colorado, or even Portland State to capture the regular season title.Big Sky PreviewBig SouthCaroline Yort: WinthropJ.R. Eskilson: CampbellRobert Ziegler: CampbellTravis Clark: RadfordBlurb: Radford, Campbell, Winthrop and High Point staged an epic battle for the title in 2011. Expect more of the same in 2012, but watch for the Liberty Flames to get in on the action as well.Big South PreviewBig TenCaroline Yort: IllinoisJ.R. Eskilson: IllinoisRobert Ziegler: Penn StateTravis Clark: Penn StateBlurb: Penn State is pursuing its 15th consecutive regular season championship. They have another strong team this year, but will be challenged by the likes of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. One coach says the quality of the leage from top to bottom is as good as it has ever been.Big Ten PreviewBig WestCaroline Yort: UC IrvineJ.R. Eskilson: Long Beach StateRobert Ziegler: UC IrvineTravis Clark: Long Beach StateBlurb: The Big West looks like a two-team race with Long Beach State and UC Irvine as the clear cut favorites from the group. Big West PreviewCAACaroline Yort: William & MaryJ.R. Eskilson: William & MaryRobert Ziegler: William & MaryTravis Clark: James MadisonBlurb: The consensus pick here is William & Mary, which enters the season as favorites across many levels.CAA PreviewConference USACaroline Yort: MemphisJ.R. Eskilson: MemphisRobert Ziegler: Colorado CollegeTravis Clark: MemphisBlurb: How Memphis recovers from significant talent losses is going to dictate how the conference race goes, while Colorado College is going to be as strong as ever in trying to grab the top spot.C-USA PreviewGreat WestCaroline Yort: Houston BaptistJ.R. Eskilson: Utah ValleyRobert Ziegler: Houston BaptistTravis Clark: Utah ValleyBlurb: Utah Valley won every award in the conference last season, but both Houston Baptist and South Carolina State are confident they have the pieces to win the league this season.Horizon LeagueCaroline Yort: Detroit(w)J.R. Eskilson: Detroit(w)Robert Ziegler: Detroit(w)Travis Clark: Wisconsin-MilwaukeeBlurb: Can UWM repeat as champions with a new coach and a roster that no longer includes goal-scoring sensation Sarah Hagen, now at Bayern Munich? The Panthers think so, but 2012 could be a highly competitive race,with high-scoring Detroit, along with Valparaiso, Cleveland State and Wright State all looking to mount title challenges.Horizon PreviewIvy LeagueCaroline Yort: HarvardJ.R. Eskilson: HarvardRobert Ziegler: YaleTravis Clark: PennBlurb: It’s hard to separate teams in the Ivy League, and while Harvard has enjoyed a strong run of late, it’s likely that Penn, Yale and perhaps even Princeton can all make a run at first place in the Ivy League.Ivy League PreviewMetro AtlanticCaroline Yort: Loyola (MD)J.R. Eskilson: MaristRobert Ziegler: NiagaraTravis Clark: Loyola (MD)Blurb: Nicole Schiro and Loyola (MD) desperately want to get back to the NCAA Tournament, but there are a number of challengers in the MAAC that want to stop the Greyhounds. MAAC PreviewMACCaroline Yort: Central MichiganJ.R. Eskilson: Miami (OH)Robert Ziegler: ToledoTravis Clark: ToledoBlurb: Toledo hopes to repeat as champions, but can expect strong challenges from Central Michigan and Miami, as well as Buffalo.MAC PreviewMissouri ValleyCaroline Yort: Illinois StateJ.R. Eskilson: Missouri StateRobert Ziegler: Missouri StateTravis Clark: Illinois StateBlurb: It was a dream year for Illinois State, as the Redbird offense fired the team to the top spot. That looks just as likely again, although Creighton and Missouri State look most likely to compete.MVC PreviewMountain WestCaroline Yort: New MexicoJ.R. Eskilson: New MexicoRobert Ziegler: San Diego StateTravis Clark: New MexicoBlurb: Eventually, New Mexico’s dominance in the Mountain West Conference will come to an end, but not many are predicting it to be this year. Mountain West PreviewNortheastCaroline Yort: St. Francis (PA)(w)J.R. Eskilson: LIU Brooklyn(w)Robert Ziegler: St. Francis (PA)(w)Travis Clark: LIU Brooklyn(w)Blurb: There’s a lot of talent back at St. Francis (PA)(w), and it’s going to take quite the effort to hold off rising programs like LIU Brooklyn(w) and Monmouth.NEC PreviewOhio ValleyCaroline Yort: SIU-Edwardsville(w)J.R. Eskilson: UT MartinRobert Ziegler: Southeast Missouri StateTravis Clark: SIU-Edwardsville(w)Blurb: Last year, UT Martin won the conference tournament and Southeast Missouri State won the league. The two figure to be battling it out for top honors again this season.
OVC PreviewPacific 12Caroline Yort: StanfordJ.R. Eskilson: StanfordRobert Ziegler: StanfordTravis Clark: StanfordBlurb: Stanford, UCLA, and Oregon State are all dealing with players spending the start of the season in Japan at the U20 Women’s World Cup, but the defending champions get the preseason nod due to depth. Pac-12 PreviewPatriot LeagueCaroline Yort: NavyJ.R. Eskilson: ColgateRobert Ziegler: NavyTravis Clark: LafayetteBlurb: Another conference where little separates the teams at the top, the Colgate, Lafayette and Navy are amongst those likely to challenge for the top spot in what is a rapidly improving league.Patriot League PreviewSECCaroline Yort: FloridaJ.R. Eskilson: Texas A&MRobert Ziegler: Texas A&MTravis Clark: Texas A&MBlurb: Texas A&M and Missouri enter to expand the conference to 14. A single round robin format promises many twists and turns in a grueling title race. Florida and the Aggies figure to be strong contenders, but South Carolina, Georgia and LSU are among other teams who will be looking for conference glory.SEC PreviewSouthernCaroline Yort: FurmanJ.R. Eskilson: College of CharlestonRobert Ziegler: SamfordTravis Clark: SamfordBlurb: Samford, UNC-Greensboro and Furman all look to mount strong title challenges in the 2012 Conference race. Replacing all-everything goalkeeper Alyssa Whitehead will be a big factor in the title hopes of Samford.SoCon PreviewSouthlandCaroline Yort: Sam Houston StateJ.R. Eskilson: Stephen F. AustinRobert Ziegler: Stephen F. AustinTravis Clark: Stephen F. AustinBlurb: Tony Amato’s Stephen F Austin team should be strong favorites,with South Africa Olympian Kylie Louw returning to the fold. With UT San Antonio and Texas State departing for the WAC, it’s hard to imagine the Ladyjacks not winning it all, but that, as the saying goes, is why they play the games.Southland PreviewSWACCaroline Yort: Arkansas Pine BluffJ.R. Eskilson: Arkansas Pine BluffRobert Ziegler: Arkansas Pine BluffTravis Clark: Arkansas Pine BluffBlurb: Rohan Naraine is the new coach of the Golden Lions, but Arkansas-Pine Bluff figures to be the prohibitive favorite for the conference title again this season.SWAC PreviewSummit LeagueCaroline Yort: North Dakota StateJ.R. Eskilson: North Dakota StateRobert Ziegler: OaklandTravis Clark: South Dakota StateBlurb: South Dakota State, Oakland and North Dakota State were the top teams last season and it looks like 2012 could be a repeat of that. Nebraska-Omaha is a new arrival, replacing Oral Roberts, who left for the SWAC.Summit PreviewSun BeltCaroline Yort: North TexasJ.R. Eskilson: Western KentuckyRobert Ziegler: Middle TennesseeTravis Clark: Florida InternationalBlurb: With Denver’s exit, there is an opportunity for a program to step up and take control of the Sun Belt in 2012. The divided opinions of the ESNN staff show just how open the race will be this fall. Sun Belt PreviewWest Coast ConferenceCaroline Yort: St. Mary's (CA)J.R. Eskilson: Santa ClaraRobert Ziegler: PepperdineTravis Clark: Santa ClaraBlurb: Santa Clara was picked as the preseason favorite by the conference’s coaches, but there was very little room between the top five teams in the conference last season. WACCaroline Yort: DenverJ.R. Eskilson: DenverRobert Ziegler: UT San Antonio(w)Travis Clark: UT San Antonio(w)Blurb: The Western Athletic Conference is welcoming in some new members this season with Denver, Texas State, and UT San Antonio(w) joining the mix, but don’t forget about former champ Utah State.WAC Preview