Women's College Soccer: Penn State gets preseason nod

More preseason conference polls are out. Penn State, winner of 16 of the last 17 conference titles is tipped, in the Big Ten, while BYU gets the nod in the WCC. In the Big 12, West Virginia is the favorite to win its third straight conference title.

Wednesday, Aug. 12
BIG TEN. Penn State, which has won 16 of the last 17 Big Ten titles, is the conference's preseason favorite. The Nittany Lions return eight starters for the 2015 season, including the 2014 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year Raquel Rodriguez, who played for Costa Rica at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

Big Ten Preseason:
1. Penn State
2. Michigan
3. Rutgers
3. Wisconsin
5. Illinois
6. Minnesota
7. Maryland
8. Northwestern
9. Ohio State
10. Nebraska
11. Iowa
12. Michigan State
13. Indiana
14. Purdue

BIG 12. West Virginia, the Big 12 regular-season and postseason champion each of the last two seasons, is the pick to win the conference again in a vote of the league’s head coaches. The Mountaineers return eight starters from last year’s squad, including Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence, who started for Canada at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

Big 12 Preseason:
1. West Virginia (7) 63
2. Texas Tech (2) 55
3. Oklahoma State  46
4. Kansas 45
5. Oklahoma 38
6. Texas 28
7. TCU 22
8. Baylor 18
9. Iowa State 9

SOUTHLAND. Stephen F. Austin has been picked to win the 2015 Southland regular-season championship in both the polls conducted by the league’s coaches and sports information directors. The Ladyjacks are coming off a perfect 11-0-0 mark in conference play and and return six starters. Preseason all-conference picks Brooke Dunnigan and Chantal Curry will anchor the SFA defense. Sam Houston State is second in the coaches' poll, while SIDs gave 2014 conference tournament champion Houston Baptist the nod.

WAC. Seattle U is the favorite to win the WAC, receiving six first-place votes in the preseason coaches poll. The Redhawks return six of their 11 starters from a team that went 15-4-3 in 2014 and claimed its second consecutive WAC Tournament title. Grand Canyon ranks second in the poll. Missouri-Kansas City and Utah Valley at 3-4 both received first-place votes.

WCC. Defending champion BYU was picked to win the 2015 West Coast Conference title in the annual preseason poll of head coaches. The Cougars had two players -- Ashley Hatch and Michele Murphy Vasconcelos -- on the conference all-preseason team.

WCC Preseason:
1. BYU (8) 79
2. Santa Clara (2) 69
3. Pepperdine 63
4. San Diego 61
5. Portland 46
6. San Francisco 40
7. Loyola Marymount 33
8. Gonzaga 31
9. Saint Mary’s 18
10. Pacific 10

What They're Saying:
“We’re going to turn a negative into a positive. Anytime anyone is looking at you, as long as what you’re doing is positive, it’s great attention. For these guys, they took [what happened last year] and it made them such a tight-knit group and made them so invested in moving in the right direction. Every one of them took responsibility for what happened and learned from it.”

-- New Mexico's new women's coach, Heather Dyche, after a hazing incident that resulted in two Lobo freshmen being taken to the hospital because of excessive alcohol consumption received national attention. UNM's opener was canceled, head coach Kit Vela was suspended for one week without pay and all but the seven remaining true freshmen were suspended for one game. (Albuquerque Journal)

Tuesday, Aug. 11

ATLANTIC-10. For the seventh consecutive year, Dayton has been chosen as the Atlantic-10 preseason favorite, ahead of LaSalle and VCU. The Flyers return a bulk of its starting lineup, including 2013 Offensive Player of the Year Ashley Campbell, 2014 Midfielder of the Year Nicole Waters, 2014 Most Outstanding Tournament Player Erin O'Malley.

CAA. Northeastern, the first school in 13 years to claim back-to-back CAA championships, has been picked to win the title again in 2015, while Hofstra senior forward Leah Galton was voted as the CAA Preseason Player of the Year. Hofstra, James Madison, William & Mary and UNCW round out the top five.

Nebraska to honor Underwood (
Omaha World-Herald)

Nebraska will hold a memorial for
Peter Underwood before Friday's preseason match against South Dakota at its new Hibner Stadium. Underwood, 31, was killed in a car accident May 16 while on a recruiting trip for Nebraska, where he served as an assistant coach. Paul Marshall was charged with vehicular homicide while operating under the influence for his involvement in the crash that took place in Iowa.

Monday, Aug. 10
ATLANTIC SUN. FGCU is the favorite to claim its sixth-straight A-Sun regular-season title as the Eagles, who collected six first-place votes, finished ahead of Jacksonville. Kennesaw State and Lipscomb tied for third with 46 points. FGCU's Tabby Tindell and Emma Blackwell were unanimous selections as the Preseason Player and Defensive Player of the Year after receiving the honors at the end of the 2014 season, while teammate Brittany Brown earned the nod as the Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year.

PAC-12. Stanford was voted the favorite to win the Pac-12. Led by senior goalkeeper Jane Campbell and sophomore midfielder Andi Sullivan, the Cardinal is coming off a seventh trip to the Women's College Cup and a second-place finish in the Pac-12 standings behind UCLA. The Bruins, who were hit hard by graduation, are second in the coaches' poll.

Pac-12 Preseason:

1. Stanford (8) 114
2. UCLA (3) 111
3. USC (1) 91
3. California 91
5. Arizona State 78
6. Colorado 73
7. Washington 71
8. Arizona 48
9. Washington State 34
10. Utah 33
11. Oregon 31
12. Oregon State 17

SEC. Florida is the SEC coaches’ preseason pick with 11 of 14 first-place votes. The Gators return three 2014 All-SEC picks -- junior forward Savannah Jordan and senior defenders Claire Falknor and Christen Westphal, all members of the U.S. U-23 national team.

SEC Preseason:

1. Florida (11) 167
2. Texas A&M (2) 149
3. Kentucky (1) 140
4. South Carolina 134
5. Tennessee 117
6. Missouri 110
7. Auburn 103
8. Arkansas 80
9. Georgia 71
10. Mississippi 64
11. LSU 49
12. Alabama 38
13. Vanderbilt 34
14. Mississippi State 18

Friday, Aug. 7
CONFERENCE USA. Defending champion Rice has been selected the preseason favorite to win the 2015 Conference USA title ahead of North Texas, Charlotte, UTEP and Marshall. Reigning C-USA Offensive Player of the Year Lauren Hughes of Rice and Owl teammate Jenny Fichera have been voted the Preseason Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively.
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