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Portland State Women's Soccer Picked to Win Big Sky TitleSalem-News.com Sports
Portland State opens its non-conference schedule Friday, Aug. 22, when they host Utah Valley.
(PORTLAND, Ore. ) - Big Sky coaches tabbed the Portland State women's soccer team as narrow favorites over Weber State to win the conference in the Big Sky's annual preseason coaches' poll. The Vikings picked up 93 points in the poll, one point more than Weber State (92). Both teams received five first-place votes in the poll, after the teams split the Big Sky titles last season.
The Vikings won the regular-season Big Sky title with an unbeaten 8-0-1 record, while the Wildcats claimed the Big Sky Tournament title with a shootout win over the Vikings in the tournament final last season. The race for the title should be as tight as the poll indicates, too, as both teams return the bulk of their cores from last season's championship-winning teams.
The Vikings return 10 starters, including Big Sky Defensive MVP Kayla Henningsen, Big Sky Co-Goalkeeper of the Year Caitlin Plese and Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Abbey Bergquist. The Wildcats, meanwhile, return nine starters from last season, including Big Sky Offensive MVP Mackenzie Harrison. The Vikings host the Wildcats Sunday, Oct. 12, at 1:00 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium in what will undoubtedly be a pivotal match within the conference title chase. Outside of the two title defenders, Northern Arizona picked up one first-place vote to finish third in the poll with 86 total points. The Lumberjacks finished second to the Vikings in the regular season last season at 7-2-0. Behind the Lumberjacks, Northern Colorado finished fourth in the poll with 69 points, while Montana finished fifth with 62 points.
Idaho State, meanwhile, beat out Sacramento State by a point for sixth place (52 to 51, respectively), a race that could play an important role in the regular season as the conference tournament field expands to six teams for the first time this season. Southern Utah (32), Idaho (29), Eastern Washington (27) and North Dakota (12) rounded out the poll as they finished eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th, respectively.
Idaho is competing in the Big Sky for the first time this season, after finishing fifth in the Western Athletic Conference with a 4-8-0 record last season. Big Sky play opens Friday, Sept. 26, with a slate of five matches across the conference, including a road match against Northern Arizona for the Vikings. Portland State opens its non-conference schedule Friday, Aug. 22, when they host Utah Valley as part of a season opening home tournament at Hillsboro Stadium.
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