Women's Soccer Kicks Off 2018 Campaign
Big West Women's Soccer Weekly Release No. 1
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
UC IRVINE PICKED TO FINISH FIRST
UC Irvine, the reigning Big West Conference regular season champion, received three first-place votes in preseason balloting among the league’s nine head coaches, grabbing the top spot with 70 points. Irvine comes off of a 2017 campaign in which it claimed its third all-time regular season title, joining the 2010 and 2011 teams in program lore. The Anteaters finished with a 10-6-4 overall record for their seventh 10-win season with coach Scott Juniper at the helm. The ‘Eaters also recorded a 5-2-1 mark in league play and are 10-4-2 in Big West action over the last two seasons. Two players return for the Anteaters who received All-Conference accolades last season in junior goalkeeper Maddie Newsome, who received an honorable mention nod, and sophomore forward Claire Grouwinkel, an All-Freshman selection.
BEACH PRIMED FOR SUCESS
Long Beach State finished in fifth place in league play a year ago, going 3-3-2 as part of a 9-6-3 overall campaign. Ashley Gonzales, the 2016 Big West Offensive Player of the Year, returns for the Beach after missing last season with an injury and joins four All-Conference selections from 2017 in junior defender Kaitlin Fregulia, junior forward Katie Pingel, senior midfielder Dana Fujikuni, and sophomore forward Rola Badawiya. Gonzales led the Big West in goals (11) and points (25) during her junior campaign in 2016 and has already written her name in the conference record book with 13 game-winning goals, the seventh-most all-time. The forward also led the conference with 29 shots on goal and three penalty kicks in as many chances.
TITANS RETURNING CAST SET FOR SUCCESS
Cal State Fullerton comes off of its fourth Big West Tournament title in five years and its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance all-time. Senior defender Nano Oronoz, junior forwards Atlanta Primus and Maddie Bennett and sophomore midfielder Haley Brown highlight Fullerton’s returning cast that went 12-6-4 overall and 4-3-1 in league. The Titans made Big West history as the first team to qualify for the Big West Tournament in six consecutive seasons. Expect a fast start and good defense from the Titans as they went 5-0-0 to open their campaign a year ago and recorded the second-most shutouts in the league with nine.
BIG WEST TOURNAMENT LOCATION
UC Irvine will host the 2018 Big West women’s soccer tournament should the Anteaters qualify for the league’s postseason tourney. In the instance that UC Irvine does not finish in the top four in conference, the highest-seed will host the action from November 1-4. Consistent with previous years, the four teams with the best marks in league at the close of the regular season will earn berths to the conference tournament.