Jefferson BYU wsoc

BYU's Alyssa Jefferson greats fans after the Cougars defeated Colorado College on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at South Field in Provo.

No. 13 Santa Clara and (RV) Brigham Young each earned five first-place votes in the 2019 West Coast Conference women’s soccer preseason poll to enter as co-favorites to claim the conference title in the annual poll of the WCC’s head coaches.

The Cougars and Broncos both earned 77 points to go with five first-place votes after a season in which both teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament. At least one of BYU or Santa Clara have won the WCC regular season crown in all but one season since 2012, the lone exception being the 2017 campaign that saw Pepperdine claim the sole crown with an unbeaten season.

The preseason poll marks the third consecutive year that two teams evenly split first-place votes. In the 2017 preseason poll, Santa Clara and BYU both garnered five votes each, and in the 2018 poll Santa Clara and Pepperdine both earned five votes each.

The Waves come in third in this year’s preseason poll with 65 points, followed by a resurgent Portland Pilots program under second-year head coach Michelle French that was picked fourth 47 points.

Only four points separate teams in the fifth, sixth and seventh spot, beginning with Gonzaga claiming fifth with 44 points. San Francisco takes sixth with 43 points and San Diego comes in seventh with 40 points. LMU garnered 30 points for eighth while Saint Mary’s (18 points) and Pacific (9 points) round out the preseason poll.

Seven programs placed at least one student-athlete on the 11-member preseason All-West Coast Conference Team. Santa Clara led all with three representatives each, including the returning Player of the Year (Kelcie Hedge, Santa Clara), with BYU and Pepperdine each earning two selections, including the returning Freshman of the Year (Isabel Nelson, Pepperdine). In total, four members of the preseason team were included on the recent MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List – Hedge, BYU’s Mikayla Colohan, BYU’s Elise Flake and Santa Clara’s Alex Loera.

Gonzaga, Portland, San Diego and San Francisco were also represented on the preseason squad. The preseason poll and All-WCC team were selected solely by a vote of the conference’s 10 head coaches.

The 2019 campaign begins on Thursday, Aug. 22 and the regular season ends on Saturday, Nov. 9.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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