FULLERTON, Calif. -- The defending Big West Conference champion Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team was picked to defend its league crown in 2013 according to a vote of the conference's head coaches released by the Big West office on Thursday afternoon.
"We are very honored to receive the votes from the other coaches in our conference," Head Coach Demian Brown said. "This year's conference race will be extremely competitive and we look forward to the challenges that the Big West provides. We are also excited to have the chance to host the Big West Tournament and our goal, obviously, is to play well enough to have the opportunity to play in our conference tournament on our hoome field. Ultimately, we hope to represent the Big West in the NCAA tournament in 2013."
It is the first time since 2002 that the Titans have been the preseason pick to win the league, finishing second in the voting twice, and third on three other occasions. Fullerton received five first-place votes and 72 points overall to edge out both Long Beach State and UC Irvine, which tied for second place with a first-place vote and 62 points overall.
Cal Poly (2 first-place votes and 59 points) and defending Big West Tournament champion Cal State Northridge (54 points) round out the top five, followed by UC Santa Barbara (30), Hawaii (27), UC Davis (22), and UC Riverside (17).
In addition to the top spot, junior midfielder Chelsey Patterson was named as one of 12 players to the preseason All-Conference Team as voted on by the coaches. Patterson, an All-Big West Honorable Mention honoree in 2012, made 18 starts, scoring her lone goal of the season in the semifinal match of the conference tournament semifinal against UC Irvine.
Cal State Fullerton opens its season with an exhibition match on Friday night (Aug. 16) at 6 p.m. as they host preseason No. 11 San Diego State at Titan Stadium. The Titans return five starters and 17 letter winners overall for the 2013 campaign, but lose their top two scorers from a season ago when they finished 10-9-1 overall and 7-2 in Big West play to claim their sixth league regular season title. Fullerton narrowly missed out on a fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament thanks to a 1-0 overtime loss in the championship match of the conference tournament.
All-Big West Honorable Mention forward Christina Burkenroad and senior midfielder Erica Mazeau lead the statistical returnees after both completed stellar 2012 campaigns. Burkenroad finished third on the team in goals (5) and points (12) while Mazeau was among the league leaders in assists (7).
In addition, all-conference honorable mention honorees forward Rebecca Wilson (1 goal, 2 assists, 51 shots) and goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic (0.98 GAA, 54 saves, 5 shutouts) also return to help augment a roster that features 10 true freshman for the upcoming campaign.
2013 BIG WEST CONFERENCE WOMEN'S SOCCER PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Cal State Fullerton (5) - 72 points
t2. Long Beach State (1) - 62
t2. UC Irvine (1) - 62
4. Cal Poly (2) - 59
5. Cal State Northridge - 54
6. UC Santa Barbara - 30
7. Hawaii - 27
8. UC Davis - 22
9. UC Riverside - 17
() denotes first-place votes
2013 BIG WEST WOMEN'S SOCCER PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Ashley Edwards (Sr., MF) - UC Davis
Sara Epps (So., F) - Cal Poly
Tiana Fujimoto (Jr., F) - Hawaii
Taylor Hobson (So., M) - Cal State Northridge
Elise Kreighoff (So., F) - Cal Poly
Natalia Ledezma (Sr., F) - UC Irvine
Elizabeth Lyons (So., F) - Long Beach State
Eileen Maes (Sr., MF) - Long Beach State
Chloe McDaniel (Sr., D) - Cal State Northridge
Taylor Nelson (Jr., MF) - Long Beach State
Chelsey Patterson (Jr., MF) - Cal State Fullerton
Cami Privett (Jr., MF) - UC Irvine