The first official RPI for NCAA women’s soccer was released on Monday. Arizona has some work to do if it wants to reach the NCAA Tournament according to the initial numbers. The RPI is one of several criteria that will be used to determine who gets to play for the national title after the end of the regular season.
The Wildcats debut at No. 63 after going 3-2-2 in the nonconference portion of their schedule. In a normal season, there would be plenty of conference opponents whose high RPI could help improve that. This year, however, the Pac-12 as a whole does not have strong numbers.
UCLA is the standout in the early going. The Bruins are No. 1 in RPI, but they are the only Pac-12 team within the top 30. The team with the next-highest ranking is Arizona State at No. 32. Washington State (38), Washington (45), and Stanford (47) are the only other conference teams in the top 50.
Arizona sits in the bottom third of the Pac-12, but most of the teams in the bottom half are closely bunched together. Utah—the Wildcats’ next opponent—stands at No. 55. Just behind the Utes are the California Golden Bears at No. 56, and Oregon comes in just above Arizona at No. 61.
Trailing the Wildcats are USC (67), Oregon State (78), and Colorado (86).
Arizona did not play an overly easy schedule. Five of its seven opponents were within the top 90 of the RPI. The Wildcats’ lowest-ranked opponent was UC Davis at 156 out of 348 teams. Iowa State was the other opponent outside the top 90 with the Cyclones sitting at No. 132. Arizona defeated both teams.
The Wildcats played three opponents within the top 60. Pepperdine, which came into the Arizona game ranked No. 10 by the United Soccer Coaches, ended the week ranked No. 36 in the RPI. Grand Canyon (59) and Nebraska (60) were the other two opponents within the top 60. The Wildcats lost to the Waves and the Lopes and salvaged a draw against the Huskers.
Arizona has two top-100 wins, defeating Texas Tech (88) and UAB (80). The Wildcats hosted both teams.
The NCAA Tournament will feature 64 teams but 31 of those will automatically qualify by winning their conference. Of the 348 teams who play Division I soccer, only 337 are eligible for the tournament because 11 are in the process of reclassifying to the upper division.