COLLEGE WOMEN: North Carolina tops Soccer America's Preseason Top 25

Perennial favorite North Carolina, winners of 17 national collegiate women's soccer championships in 22 years, tops Soccer America magazine's College Women's Preseason Top 25.

Pacific 10 Conference champion Stanford, ranked No. 1 most of last season, is ranked second, followed by its conference rival UCLA, NCAA runner-up Santa Clara, Texas, Notre Dame and defending NCAA champion Portland.

Penn State, Virginia and Pepperdine complete the Top 10.

North Carolina, which has won one AIAW title (in 1981) and 16 NCAA crowns (1982-84, 86-94, 96-97, 99-2000), boasts one of the most talented and unquestionably the deepest team in college women's soccer.

The Tar Heels feature four players with full U.S. national team experience -- defender Catherine Reddick, midfielders Lindsay Tarpley and Lori Chalupny, and incoming forward Heather O'Reilly -- and more than a half-dozen others who have played for U.S. youth national teams.

Reddick won't play for the Tar Heels until October; she was selected Tuesday by U.S. coach April Heinrichs, a former UNC star, to the U.S. roster for the Sept. 20-Oct. 12 Women's World Cup. Tarpley and O'Reilly, who is coming off injury, also were considered for the U.S. team.

Reddick and Tarpley also were selected Tuesday to Soccer America's College Women's Preseason All-America team.

Twenty-one schools in Soccer America's Top 25 are from the five most powerful conferences in the women's game.

North Carolina is one of six teams from the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference. The others are No. 9 Virginia, No. 13 Florida State, No. 18 Maryland, No. 19 Clemson and No. 24 Duke.

Stanford and UCLA are among five Pac-10 teams on the list, joined by No. 14 Arizona State, No. 16 California and No. 21 USC.

The Big East Conference features four Top 25 teams (No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 11 West Virginia, No. 15 Connecticut and No. 22 Villanova), and there are three from both the West Coast Conference (No. 4 Santa Clara, No. 7 Portland and No. 10 Pepperdine) and the Big 12 Conference (No. 5 Texas, No. 17 Texas A&M, No. 20 Nebraska).

Two Southeastern Conference powers (No. 12 Tennessee, No. 23 Auburn) and top teams from, the Big Ten (No. 8 Penn State) and Conference USA (No. 25 Charlotte) complete the Top 25.

Soccer America will release its Top 25 on Mondays of each week of the college season, through the completion of conference tournaments.

Soccer America College Women's
Preseason Top 25

Team (2002 record) Final 2002 ranking
1. North Carolina (21-2-4) 2
2. Stanford (21-2-0) 1
3. UCLA (18-4-0) 3
4. Santa Clara (20-5-1) 4
5. Texas (15-5-1) 11
6. Notre Dame (13-8-0) NR
7. Portland (20-4-2) 7
8. Penn State (19-4-1) 13
9. Virginia (13-7-2) 24
10. Pepperdine (18-2-2) 5
11. West Virginia (18-3-1) 8
12. Tennessee (18-6-1) 12
13. Florida State (13-7-3) NR
14. Arizona State (12-7-3) 25
15. Connecticut (21-3-1) 6
16. California (12-8-1) 18
17. Texas A&M (20-5-1) 9
18. Maryland (13-8-2) 19
19. Clemson (14-8-0) 14
20. Nebraska (16-6-3) 10
21. USC (11-8-3) NR
22. Villanova (14-3-4) 20
23. Auburn (15-5-2) NR
24. Duke (9-9-2) 21
25. Charlotte (16-2-2) 23

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