There are two kinds of soccer programs in the Pac-12 — the California schools and the non-California schools.
Stanford, UCLA, USC and, to a lesser extent, Cal generally dominate the conference — and the sport as a whole.
Stanford and USC won the national championship the last two years, for instance (and Stanford beat UCLA to win it).
The non-California schools are still really, really good however, and the Arizona Wildcats are currently the best team in that group.
Arizona, which won seven conference games for the first time in program history this past season, finished fourth in the Pac-12 in 2017, even ahead of Cal who they beat in Berkeley.
Arizona also went 6-0-1 against non-California schools.
There’s this too: Arizona is the only non-California program to have multiple players in TopDrawerSoccer’s final Pac-12 Top 20.
UA sophomore defender Morgan McGarry and junior goalkeeper Lainey Burdett made the cut. Not a single player from Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, or ASU did.
Utah and Colorado only had one nominee.
Arizona used to be a perennial bottom dweller in the Pac-12, lucky to win two or three conference games, but those days are clearly over.
The Wildcats have made the NCAA Tournament three times in the last four seasons and will return several starters in 2018, including McGarry and Burdett, putting them in a favorable spot to make another run next fall.
They might not be a California school, but they are the next best thing.