NCAA Soccer – Pre-Conference Play Grades/NCAA Tournament Prospects/Predicted Order of Finish – WCC

BYU

Grade: (A+) – Come on, did anybody see BYU being this good? The Cougars were probably set for a bounce back year after last season’s disappointment, but BYU supporters must surely be on cloud nine after the start to the season they’ve enjoyed. Wins over Long Beach State, Colorado College, Penn State, and Washington have sean BYU soar in the rankings, but until they do it on the road against a strong opponent, College Cup dreams may have to wait.
Current RPI – 5
Top Scorer – Carlee Payne Holmoe (4 G, 6 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – They’re in for sure, but they still have a little work to do to ensure a favorable path towards San Diego. The quality of all those wins should be good enough to net them a national seed should they avoid a collapse in league play. The goal now has to be getting a top two seed to ensure the first three rounds of the tournament go through Provo. For that, they might need to win most or all of their games in WCC play.

Gonzaga

Grade: (C+) – The Zags don’t seem to be progressing too much at the moment. Yes, the Spokane club is at .500 right now, but have you seen the quality, or lack thereof, of their wins? They did upset Vanderbilt in Nashville, but their other four wins are over clubs below #200 in the uRPI. Though Gonzaga hasn’t taken any truly awful losses, those weak wins have contributed to a lethargic RPI. The club’s shown the ability to spring the odd upset as against Vandy, but a big season in the WCC doesn’t seem too likely.
Current RPI – 137
Top Scorer – Sila Tuiofea (3 G, 2 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Barring something utterly miraculous, it’s not going to happen. With no conference tournament either, the Zags don’t even have a chance to use that as a fallback option.

Loyola Marymount

Grade: (B-) – The Lions have been an inconsistent bunch with promise thus far in 2012. LMU’s managed a nice win against UC Irvine to go with draws against UCLA and Arizona that have shown their ability to compete against a good many talented team. The opening day loss to Cal Poly showed some of their frailty at times though, and the overall lack of quality wins has hurt their profile thus far. Still, don’t be surprised if this club springs an upset or two in WCC play this season.
Current RPI – 97
Top Scorer – Darien Pyka (3 G, 1 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Well, the draw at UCLA would conceivably put them right in the thick of things if they were on the bubble. Which they aren’t. They aren’t really close either. The Lions could creep towards there if they win almost all of their games in WCC play, but that looks like a tough ask in this league this year.

Pepperdine

Grade: (C+) – What’s old seems to be new again in Malibu, as the Waves looks like their old inconsistent selves near the close of September. Wins over San Diego, Auburn, and UC Irvine don’t mean as much as Pepperdine probably hoped they would, leaving the team squarely on the bubble at the moment. The defending league co-champs may be thrashing less talented sides, but they’ve looked less than convincing in losses against bigger fish like San Diego State and UCLA. It’s the loss to Arizona State that may eventually be the deal breaker though, with that defeat meaning the club has real work to do before Selection Monday.
Current RPI – 45
Top Scorer – Amanda LeCave (9 G, 0 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Though the club has a few bubble wins, there’s very little to really make the selection committee stand up and take notice right now. The Waves need a few big wins in a bad way and has a chance at nabbing one against Boston College on Saturday.

Portland

Grade: (B) – The Pilots might be moving back to towards the mean a bit after their hot start. While the win over North Carolina rekindled memories of glories past, the club has now won just two of their last five, with that win over North Carolina being the club’s only win against an uRPI Top 70 club. While the UNC win and a draw with Notre Dame means their NCAA Tournament status should be safe, the Pilots still have some work to do if they want to secure themselves a coveted national seed in the Big Dance.
Current RPI – 22
Top Scorer – Amanda Frisbie (6 G, 3 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – The Pilots are all but in barring a late implosion, but they probably need at least one more big win to get in the hunt for a national seed. With games at home against San Diego State and BYU though, the club looks well poised to collect that needed victory.

San Diego

Grade: (B) – The Toreros are a very hard team to grade. Yes, they’re 4-7-0, but they also lost a boatload of players from last year’s squad while playing a very trying schedule so far that has seen them not play an opponent below #81 in the uRPI. The win against Texas A&M continues to look massive and could even get the club in the NCAA Tournament should USD come on late. The defense has been atrocious though, giving up multiple goals in seven games and keeping just two clean sheets and must do better if the Toreros are to avoid a tough WCC campaign.
Current RPI – 64
Top Scorer – Emily Dillon (2 G, 3 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Well, their RPI isn’t horrible considering the club is three games under .500, with the win over Texas A&M likely to see them get the benefit of the doubt if they’re on the bubble. They should get there if they get back to .500 after league play. That’s easier said than done though in the very challenging WCC.

San Francisco

Grade: (B) – It’s probably going to be a while until the Dons can contend with the big guns in the WCC, but the rebuilding process seems to be going OK for USF thus far. Getting over .500 has been a fine achievement, and the club is guaranteed of finishing with their least number of losses since 2009 no matter how WCC play goes. The schedule hasn’t exactly been taxing, with just one uRPI Top 100 team having been played, but this is a program that needs to take some baby steps before it can run with the league’s best.
Current RPI – 177
Top Scorer – Mackenzie Krieser (6 G, 2 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Not going to happen. Even if the Dons were able to just about run the table, they’re just too far back to get close to the bubble.

Santa Clara

Grade: (B+) – The Broncos did very well to just survive their early season schedule without Julie Johnston and Sofia Huerta. Now? They’ve been rolling, with an eight match unbeaten streak and five wins in six. It’s been a little spotty at times, but SCU has still looked impressive since they became whole and should be prime contenders for WCC silverware. They still lack a big win though, something they’ll really need for their national seed hopes but have a great chance to pick one up at BYU in the league opener.
Current RPI – 15
Top Scorer – Lauren Matheson (4 G, 0 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Broncos are in but probably in need of some results to grab a national seed for sure. BYU, Pepperdine, and Portland offer opportunities to strengthen their case, but two of those games are on the road, meaning SCU isn’t going to have it easy.

St. Mary’s (CA)

Grade: (C+) – Losing Jordan Marada likely ripped the heart out of the Gaels, who might need a while to recover. The club is at .500 at the moment, but their wins haven’t exactly been inspiring, with no victories over clubs in the uRPI Top 150. The losses hadn’t been too bad up until recently, where the club lost disappointingly to Pacific and Valparaiso at home. The best result has been a draw against Oregon, showing the Gaels can put it together against bigger teams at time, but it’s been an inconsistent proposition thus far.
Current RPI – 139
Top Scorer – Katy Roby (2 G, 4 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – It looks quite unlikely. The Gaels would almost assuredly have to run the table (which would get them the auto bid) or come close to it. That probably isn’t going to happen.

Preseason Predicted Order of Finish

1. Santa Clara
2. Pepperdine
3. BYU
4. Portland
5. San Diego
6. St. Mary’s (CA)
7. Loyola Marymount
8. San Francisco
9. Gonzaga

Current Predicted Order of Finish

1. Santa Clara
2. BYU
3. Portland
4. Pepperdine
5. San Diego
6. Loyola Marymount
7. St. Mary’s (CA)
8. Gonzaga
9. San Francisco

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