Preseason Pac-12 women’s soccer power rankings

WSU sits behind three ranked Pac-12 teams, other teams could hold surprises during 2019 season

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Preseason Pac-12 women’s soccer power rankings

OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

SHAWN P. O'CONNOR, Evergreen columnist

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  1. (3) Stanford

The 2018 Pac-12 Champions and Final Four participant Stanford Cardinal look poised to win the Conference of Champions once again. Stanford received seven of the 12 first-place votes in the Pac-12 Coaches’ Poll. The Cardinal will be tested early, playing No. 6 Penn State and No. 11 West Virginia to start the season.

  1. (4) UCLA

The Bruins will be a primary challenger to the Cardinal this season. Fresh off an NCAA Quarterfinal loss to North Carolina last season, UCLA received the remaining five first-place votes in the Pac-12 Coaches’ Poll. UCLA will face several tough tests in their six-game non-conference slate, including a contest against defending National Champions and No. 1 Florida State in their third game.

  1. (5) Southern California

The Trojans had a tremendous season last year, falling to the National Champs in the third round. Southern California starts its non-conference schedule at Hawai’i. The Trojans will also face No. 1 Florida State at home and will round out their slate with No. 14 Baylor in Waco, Texas. A hot start is required for the Trojans to keep pace with UCLA and Stanford.

  1. Washington State

The Cougars had a fantastic season in 2018, falling in the second round to then No. 2 Georgetown. WSU returns several key starters, including senior forward Morgan Weaver and sixth-year goalkeeper Ella Dederick. The Cougars now have midfielder Averie Collins, a graduate transfer from Stanford. A soft non-conference schedule should bode well for WSU to have a strong start.

  1. Arizona

The Wildcats were the fifth and final team from the Pac-12 in the NCAA tourney last season and fell in the second round. Arizona faces No. 13 Santa Clara and Texas Christian University before starting Pac-12 play. If the Wildcats can survive their challenging start, they have a chance to surprise in the Pac-12.

  1. California

Cal enters the season as a dark horse, situated right in the middle of most power rankings and polls. The Golden Bears will be able to shake the cobwebs off with nine non-conference games, with the sole game featuring a ranked opponent, No. 13 Santa Clara.

  1. Colorado

Colorado faces a brutal non-conference slate, playing No. 19 Texas, No. 14 Baylor and No. 1 Florida State in nine non-conference contests. If the Buffs can survive entering conference play, watch out.

  1. Utah

Despite a fourth-place finish in the Pac-12 last season, the Utes failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Utah travels to Clemson, Alabama and Bringham Young and hosts Butler to open its season. The Utes will play five of their nine non-conference games on the road before opening Pac-12 play at Arizona State.

  1. Arizona State

A .500 team in Pac-12 play last season, ASU fell to the bottom third of these rankings. A weak non-conference schedule, only facing No. 24 LSU mid-September, with gives the Sun Devils a chance to gain confidence, but this roster doesn’t have the firepower to keep up in the Conference of Champions.

  1. Washington

Expect the Huskies to fall early and often to start the season. UW plays No. 2 North Carolina, No. 19 Texas and TCU in their first seven games, a recipe for disaster for this Washington team.

  1. Oregon

Aside from a date with No. 13 Santa Clara, the Ducks have a soft enough non-conference schedule to enter conference play at or above .500. The fun will likely end there, however. This Oregon squad just isn’t at the same level as the top programs in the conference.

  1. Oregon State

After a disastrous 2018 campaign, the Beavers have a chance to bounce back in a big way. OSU plays eight non-conference opponents this season. However, Oregon State rarely showed signs of life last season finishing 2-17. Expect another long season for the Black and Orange.