Denver, Colo. - San Jose State University was picked to finish sixth in the now-nine-team women's soccer Western Athletic Conference race in a 2009 preseason vote of the league's head coaches released on Tuesday, August 4.
The Spartans picked up a total of 28 points to take the sixth spot for a second year in a row. Utah State, a first-time WAC regular-season champion in 2008, registered its highest placement in a WAC preseason poll, as the favorite to defend its title. The Aggies received five of the nine first-place votes, for 61 points in all.
Hawai'i used two first-place votes toward 53 points to place behind Utah State, while 2008 WAC Tournament champion and NCAA Championship automatic qualifier Fresno State gathered the remaining two first-place nods for 49 points and the third spot.
The other two teams ahead of San Jose State were Boise State (45 points) and Nevada (39). Louisiana Tech (21), Idaho (15) and New Mexico State (13), in its first season as a women's soccer program, made up the seventh, eighth and ninth positions in the poll.
The league also announced its 11-player preseason All-WAC team. Utah State led the way with four selections to the squad. A trio of Rainbow Wahine players, two Fresno State Bulldogs, and one standout each from Boise State and Nevada, rounded out the honoree list. Boise State forward Shannon Saxton, and Fresno State goalkeeper Kaitlyn Revel, both juniors, were tabbed the WAC Preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively.
San Jose State finished 5-11-4 overall, and in a tie for fifth with a 2-4-1 conference mark in head coach Jeff Leightman's first season in charge of the program in 2008. The Spartans had seven true freshmen and one redshirt freshman who each started at least 11 matches a season ago. They return 16 letterwinners and all but one starter. Among those back are WAC Offensive Player of the Year candidate Emmy Belding, the team's leading scorer last year with eight goals, and fellow seniors Roxy Kamal and Hallsie Pacheco. Kamal and Katie Bonadies, a redshirt junior, have been chosen as co-captains.
San Jose State reported back to campus on Tuesday, August 4, with Leightman holding his annual first-day barbeque for his staff and squad at Spartan Stadium. A current total of 28 players began training ahead of the 2009 fall season on Wednesday morning, August 5, with the first of two fitness-heavy practice sessions.
The team will have three-a-day practices on Thursday, August 6, and Friday, August 7, before scaling back to a double-session schedule for the following week. The Spartans will open the new campaign at home against South Bay foe Santa Clara for the second season in a row on Friday night, August 21. Kick-off is set for 7:00 p.m. for the first of nine matches the women's team is scheduled to play on the brand-new FieldTurf inside Spartan Stadium.
2009 Coaches' Poll
Team (First-place votes) Points
1. Utah State (5) 61
2. Hawai'i (2) 53
3. Fresno State (2) 49
4. Boise State 45
5. Nevada 39
6. San Jose State 28
7. Louisiana Tech 21
8. Idaho 15
9. New Mexico State 13
2009 Preseason All-WAC Team
Ambree Ako, F, Hawai'i, Sr.
Shantel Flanary, F, Utah State, So.
Lauren Hansen, F, Utah State, Jr.
Shannon Saxton, F, Boise State, Jr.
Christen Drummond, MF, Nevada, Jr.
Mari Punzal, MF, Hawai'i, Jr.
Chandra Salmon, MF, Utah State, So.
Chelsea Deptula, D, Hawai'i, Jr.
Lindsay Smart, D, Utah State, Sr.
Danielle Solich, D, Fresno State, So.
Kaitlyn Revel, GK, Fresno State, Jr.
Preseason Players of the Year
Offensive: Shannon Saxton, F, Boise State, Jr.
Defensive: Kaitlyn Revel, GK, Fresno State, Jr.