The offseason is a time for regeneration, and that’s especially true of defenses. Title runs are built on back lines, as the UCLA women’s program proved last season, and the offseason is a crucial time to reinforce chemistry and dig furrowed lanes in the trenches for the fall.
These were the nation’s five best women’s defenses in college soccer last season, and here’s what their 2014 returning classes look like.
1. UCLA - 0.29 goals against average
Key losses: None
Key returners: GK Katelyn Rowland, D Abby Dahlkemper, D Megan Oyster, D Caprice Dydasco
If the old addage that defense wins champions has ever rung true, its core tenet was found in the UCLA 2013 women’s season. The Bruins managed to give up a minuscule eight goals - tied for the lowest total with Penn - in a massive 2,433 minutes, the most minutes played of any team in women’s Division I soccer last year. As a result, UCLA streaked to a national title that was built largely on the strength of the Bruins’ back line. The incredible thing about this team is that almost none of its primary contributors were seniors, and that includes a robust back line that returns some of the nation’s best. Can UCLA improve upon its sub-3.0 goals against average? Entirely possible.