Matadors Tabbed Third in Big West Preseason Poll

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – The Cal State Northridge women's soccer team was picked to finish third in the Big West in a poll of conference coaches, the league office announced Wednesday. The Matadors finished the 2010 season with a 12-9 record with a 5-3 Big West Conference mark and a third-place finish.

Last year's regular season conference champion UC Irvine was favored in the poll, receiving seven of the possible nine first-place votes for 78 points. Long Beach State, which edged the Anteaters in the conference tournament final in 2010, took second in the poll with 70 points. Both programs participated in the NCAA tournament a year ago.

Northridge edged out Pacific by a single point in the annual vote, earning 52 overall. The Matadors return All-Big West First Team defender Brielle Slepicoff, Second Team goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo and Honorable Mention forward Melissa Fernandez from a season ago. All three are poised to lead the squad to the postseason with a repeat berth in the Big West Tournament and a spot in the NCAA's.

"I think this is the highest ranking we've had, but it is just a preseason ranking," said head coach Keith West. "Our goal is to win the Big West Conference."

The Pacific Tigers received one first-place vote but came in fourth in the poll with 51 points. The Matadors open up conference play against the Tigers in Stockton on Sept. 30. UC Santa Barbara finished with 48 points, which is good for fifth, while Cal Poly came in sixth with 44.

Cal State Fullerton earned 34 points and seventh place in the preseason poll while UC Davis and UC Riverside rounded out the voting with 18 and 10 points respectively.

"There are a lot of excellent teams in the Big West and it is good to get respect in this conference," West said. "I think there are six or seven teams that can win it."

With the exception of Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, who swapped places, the poll mirrors the final standings from last season. Cal State Northridge will open up the regular season on Aug. 19 by hosting cross-town rival UCLA at Matador Soccer Field at 7 p.m.