Aug. 5, 2010
LOGAN, Utah - For the second-straight season, the Utah State soccer team was picked first in the Western Athletic Conference preseason poll, selected by the conference's nine coaches and announced by the league office Thursday.
"If you look at the poll closely, Boise State actually received more first-place votes. The tightness in the poll is predicting a competitive battle for the conference title with the margin separating teams being small, and I would agree," USU head coach Heather Cairns said. "It's an honor to be thought of as a contender by the fellow WAC coaches, but we all know that it is what happens in October that matters, so were working hard in our preseason training to get our rookies gelling with our core of returners in order to give us a shot for that title."
Utah State was picked sixth in the 2005 preseason poll, the Aggies' first year in the WAC, fourth in 2006 and third in both the 2007 and 2008 preseason prognostications. In last season's poll, USU was picked first.
The Aggies edged out Boise State for first place with 59 points, compared to the Broncos' 58 points. Utah State had three of the nine first-place votes, compared to Boise State earning six of the first-place votes.
Last season's regular season champion, San Jose State, received 40 points to place third. Nevada was picked fourth with 36 points, followed by Fresno State with 35 points. Hawai`i was chosen sixth with 30 points with Idaho garnering 28 points. New Mexico State in only its second season of play was picked eighth with 26 points with Louisiana Tech rounding out the poll with 12 points.
Utah State junior forward Shantel Flanary garnered Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors, while San Jose State junior defender Jessica Ingram was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Flanary was the only Aggie to earn Preseason all-WAC honors. WAC Tournament Champion Boise State led the way with three players on the team.
Flanary is a two-time all-WAC honoree, earning the distinction in both 2008 and 2009. She was also named the WAC's Freshman of the Year in 2008. In 2009, the Highland, Utah was named the 2009 WAC Offensive Player of the Year. Flanary ranked tied for first last season during WAC play in both points (11) and goals (5).
"I am excited for Shantel to be recognized. She is a dangerous attacker and backs it up with a spectacular work rate," Cairns said.
The Aggies return 13 letterwinners and eight starters from last year's team that finished 10-9-2 and advanced to the WAC Tournament semifinals. USU brings back four seniors in forward Lauren Hansen, midfielders Heather Pond and Stefani Shiozaki and goalkeeper Aleena Shelton. USU also welcomes 14 newcomers to the 2010 team, including 12 freshmen.
USU opens the 2010 campaign hosting in-state rival Weber State at Rio Tinto on Friday, Aug. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The match is a doubleheader with Utah Valley taking on Southern Utah at 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 and children under 17 with soccer jerseys on get in free.
Fans can follow USU soccer at http://twitter.com/USUsoccer and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics.
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