[BIG WEST PREVIEW] All-American Nadia Link will lead Long Beach State in its defense of the Big West title. The 49ers are coming off their winningest season in program history with a 18-6-1 record. After finishing second in the regular-season standings, they won the Big West Tournament for the second year in a row and three games in a row in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Duke in the quarterfinals.
It was the farthest a Big West squad had advanced in the NCAA Tournament.
Link was also named Big West Offensive Player of the Year with 16 goals and 10 assists and 42 points. She tied the 27-year old school record for goals in a season and became just the third 49er, and first since the program was reinstated in 1998, to reach double figures in both goals and assists.
Long Beach State was the near-unanimous pick to win the 2012 Big West title ahead of UC Irvine, the 2011 regular-season champion.
UC Irvine will be bolstered by the addition of North Carolina transfer Rachel Wood. She scored in back-to-back NCAA Tournament matches on their way to winning the 2008 national championship
BIG WEST IN BRIEF:
2011 REGULAR SEASON. 1. UC Irvine (6-1-1), 2. Long Beach State (6-2-0).
2011 TOURNAMENT. Long Beach State beat UC Irvine, 1-0, in final.
2011 NCAA TOURNAMENT. Long Beach State lost in quarterfinals, UC Irvine lost in first round.
2012 FAVORITE.Long Beach State.
2012 CONTENDERS.UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge.
2012 NEW MEMBERS.Hawaii (from WAC).
2012 CREAM OF THE CROP.F Nadia Link, Long Beach State, sr.; D Alex Balcer, Long Beach State, sr.; G Cynthia Jacobo, Cal State Northridge, sr.; M Cami Privett, UC Irvine, soph.
2012 TOP NEWCOMERS.D Rachel Wood, UC Irvine (transfer), F Mirella Mattos, Pacific (transfer).
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