After placing in the top half of the Pac-12 the past two seasons, the Arizona soccer team is projected to take a step back in 2019, as the conference’s coaches selected them to finish seventh in the preseason poll that was released Tuesday.
The Wildcats finished fifth in the Pac-12 last season, going 13-6-2 overall and 5-4-2 in conference play. That was after they had been picked to finish sixth. In 2017, the Wildcats were projected to finish ninth, but they finished fourth, so it is common for them to outperform outside expectations.
Here’s the full 2019 Pac-12 preseason poll:
Stanford was picked as the favorite for the fourth straight year. The Cardinal are ranked No. 3 in the country to start the season. UCLA and USC are No. 4 and 5, respectively. Like every year, it would be a huge surprise if those three schools do not finish one, two and three in the conference.
They are also the only Pac-12 teams in the Top 25 to begin the season, though the Wildcats received 37 votes, making them the No. 31 team in the country, the fourth-best ranking in the Pac-12.
Utah is No. 36, Washington State is No. 37, Colorado is No. 40, Cal is No. 42, and ASU is No. 45. Washington, Oregon and Oregon State did not receive any votes.
Pac-12 coaches are apparently expecting a resurgent season from Cal, which went 1-9-1 in conference play last season with one of the youngest rosters in the Pac-12. Typically, the Bears are one of the more talented teams in the West.
The Wildcats return eight starters, including their entire backline and three of their top four point-getters. They have to replace all-time shutouts leader Lainey Burdett in net, leading assister Amanda Porter, and steady midfielder Kennedy Kieneker.
The Wildcats host Long Beach State on Aug. 22 to open the regular season. Friday, they have an exhibition on the road against San Diego.
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