WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The UC San Diego women’s soccer team has been picked to finish fifth in the 2014 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) race, as voted on in the preseason poll conducted by the league’s 12 head coaches and released on Tuesday.
The CCAA has trotted out a significant overhaul in men’s and women’s soccer for the 2014 campaign in terms of both the regular season and championship tournament. Each institution will face one another once for 11 league contests, down from 16 a year ago, and the CCAA has also thus done away with its two six-team divisions. UCSD had topped the South Division in 11 of its 14 seasons of CCAA membership.
The new format for the CCAA Championship calls for the top six teams in the final regular-season standings to qualify, up from four in prior installments. The top two teams receive direct entry into the semifinals, with the next four finishers squaring off in first-round tilts at campus sites of higher seeds on Sunday, Nov. 2.
The site of the semifinals and final of the 2014 CCAA Championship has yet to be determined. The final will be played on Sunday, Nov. 9, with a spot in the NCAA Championship at stake.
UCSD accumulated 96 points to sit just behind Cal State L.A. at 97 points, each with a pair of first-place votes. Eleventh-ranked Cal State Stanislaus is the favorite to repeat as CCAA champion, collecting 103 points from four first-place nods, with Sonoma State a close second at 100 points and three first-place votes, and 17th-ranked Cal State San Bernardino third (98, one first-place vote). Only seven points separate the top five teams in the poll. Chico State is sixth (64 points).
The Tritons went 7-6-5 overall and 6-5-5 in CCAA play a year ago, missing the CCAA Championship for the first time since joining the league for the 2000 season, and the NCAA Championship for only the second time in 28th-year head coach Brian McManus’ tenure. They own a record eight conference banners.
McManus lost just two seniors and returns the top five Triton point-scorers from 2013 in All-American midfielder Cassie Callahan, fellow seniors Izzy Pozurama and Kylie Hill, and sophomores Jamie Benedetto and Kiera Bocchino. Also back are juniors Michelle Yasutake and Kelcie Brodsky on defense and in goal, respectively.
All but one CCAA squad opens the 2014 season on Thursday, Sept. 4. League activity gets underway for all 12 sides on Friday, Sept. 26.
UCSD flies north to Seattle, Wash., next Tuesday, Sept. 2, to take on 25th-ranked West Region foe Seattle Pacific on the new turf at Interbay Stadium on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. The Tritons then also take on Saint Martin’s in Lacey, Wash., on Saturday, Sept. 6, before returning to La Jolla to await their home opener on Thursday, Sept. 11, against Azusa Pacific. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium is set for 4:30 p.m.
2014 CCAA Women’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Institution (First-Place Votes), Points
1. #11 Cal State Stanislaus (4), 103
2. Sonoma State (3), 100
3. #17 Cal State San Bernardino (1), 98
4. Cal State L.A. (2), 97
5. UC San Diego (2), 96
6. Chico State, 64
7. Cal Poly Pomona, 58
8. Cal State Monterey Bay, 49
9. Cal State Dominguez Hills, 38
10. SF State, 37
11. Cal State East Bay, 32
12. Humboldt State, 20