[BIG 12 PREVIEW] It will be hard for Oklahoma State to match its 2011 season when it went 22-2-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for
the second consecutive year before losing to eventual national champion Stanford in overtime, but the Cowgirls are favored in the new-look Big 12, which is down to nine teams for women's soccer.
Defending champion Texas A&M and Missouri are gone, but OSU will get a challenge from West Virginia.
OSU, the pick of conference coaches, lost six starters but returns All-American goalie Adrianna Franch, as well as its top goal scorer, Taylor Matthews (9) and assist leader Megan Marchesano (10).
West Virginia won the 2011 Big East title and appeared in its 12th consecutive NCAA tournament. The Mountaineers matched OSU with four players on the preseason all-Big 12 team: Bry McCarthy, Bri Rodriguez, Kate Schwindel and Frances Silva.
The big news in the offseason came at Texas, where Angela Kelly took over for Chris Petrucelli. Kelly arrives in Austin after serving as head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols for 12 seasons.
The pressure will be on Kelly at Texas, one of the most high-profile programs in the country, but she is asking for some patience at the beginning.
"I don't know what the starting lineup will look like at this point," Kelly said. "I'm coming in with a very open mind, but we have a lot of talent and that's exciting. The only way you gain wisdom is through experience. I can't expedite their experience within two weeks of preseason training. The learning curve is going to have to be tremendous. We're going to have to be very well-organized, clear and concise."
The Longhorns will be without goalie Abby Smith for the start of the season as she is in Japan to represent the USA at the Under-20 Women's World Cup.
Also new in Big 12 will be Matt Porter at Oklahoma. He arrived from Washington State, which he built into one of the most competitive programs in the Pac-12.
TELEVISION. Two Big 12 matches will be featured on Fox Soccer's NSCAA College Game of the Week, and one contest will be broadcast on ESPNU. In addition, the Big 12 championship on Nov. 4 will continue to be televised on FSN.
BIG 12 IN BRIEF:
2011 REGULAR SEASON. 1. Oklahoma State (6-0-2), 2. Texas A&M (6-1-1), 3. Baylor (5-2-1).
2011 TOURNAMENT. Texas A&M beat Oklahoma State, 1-0.
2011 NCAA TOURNAMENT. Oklahoma State lost in quarterfinals, Baylor and Texas A&M lost in second round, Kansas and Texas lost in first round.
2012 FAVORITE. Oklahoma State.
2012 CONTENDERS. West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech.
2012 NEW MEMBERS. TCU (from Mountain West), West Virginia (from Big East).
2012 CREAM OF THE CROP. G Adrianna Franch, Oklahoma State, sr.; D Carson Michalowski, Oklahoma State, sr.; F Megan Marchesano, Oklahoma State, sr.; F Kate Schwindel, West Virginia, soph.
2012 TOP NEWCOMERS. G Abby Smith, Texas; F Kelsey Shimmick, Texas; D Lauren Reyes, Oklahoma State; D Carly Black, West Virginia.
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