The Long Beach State women’s soccer team was a near unanimous pick of the 10 Big West Conference coaches as the favorite to capture the 2012 regular season championship in the annual preseason poll released today.
The 49ers captured nine of the 10 first-place votes while 2011 conference champion UC Irvine collected the other top vote. LBSU totaled 99 points, followed by UCI with 86 and Cal State Fullerton in third with 71.
UCSB, which finished last in the conference standings last year at 2-6, is predicted to finish fifth out of 10 schools.
Right behind Fullerton was Cal State Northridge in fourth place with 69 points, while the Gauchos were predicted fifth with 53 points and Cal Poly sixth with 48. UC Davis and Pacific were paired at 44 points each, while UC Riverside and new conference member Hawaii tied at 18 apiece to close out the poll, respectively.
Long Beach State looks to continue its hot streak from last season, recording the winningest season in program history at 18-6-1. Finishing second in the regular season standings, the 49ers fought hard in the Big West Tournament to claim their second straight title with a 1-0 win over conference rival UCI. The 49ers then reeled off three consecutive wins in the NCAA Tournament to reach the Elite Eight, where they fell 2-0 to Duke. It was the furthest a Big West squad had advanced in the NCAA Tournament and the 49ers had compiled a school record eight-game winning streak prior to the encounter with the Blue Devils.
UCSB opens its season on August 11 against Westmont. The Gauchos play 11 non-conference games before beginning their Big West schedule on September 28. Find a complete UCSB season schedule HERE
PRE-SEASON BIG WEST COACHES POLL
1. Long Beach State (9)
2. UC Irvine (1)
3. Cal State Fullerton
4. Cal State Northridge
5. UC Santa Barbara
6. Cal Poly
T7. UC Davis
T9. UC Riverside
First place votes in parentheses