DENVER— San Jose State and Utah State tied for the top spot as the favorite for the 2011 Western Athletic Conference season as determined by a vote by the league’s eight head coaches. The 2011 WAC preseason all-conference soccer team and Players of the Year were also announced as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
San Jose State and Utah State tied for first place in the poll as each received three first place votes and 42 total points. The two teams shared the 2010 regular season title with identical 5-2-1 WAC records. San Jose State returns 10 of its 11 starters from last year, while Utah State welcomes back eight starters from last year’s squad.
Last year’s WAC Tournament champion Fresno State was voted to finish third, receiving two first place votes with a tally of 38 total points. Idaho was selected fourth with 33 points. The Vandals tied for third last season with a 5-3-0 record. Louisiana Tech was picked fifth with 20 points after tying for third last season with a 5-3-0 mark. Nevada (18 points) was picked to finish in sixth place, while Hawai‘i (17 points) and New Mexico State (11 points) were voted in the seventh and eighth spots, respectively.
Idaho junior forward Chelsea Small garnered Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors, while San Jose State senior defender Jessica Ingram was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for a second-straight year.
Small is a two-time all-WAC honoree, earning the distinction in both 2009 and 2010. She was also named the WAC’s offensive player of the year in 2010 and the league’s freshman of the year in 2009. Small led the WAC last season in shots (58) and shots per game (7.25) during league play.
Ingram earned first team all-WAC honors in both 2009 and 2010. She was named the 2009 WAC defensive player of the year. Ingram anchored the SJSU defense to a pair of shutouts during WAC play last season.
San Jose State led WAC teams with four preseason all-conference selections. Idaho and Utah State each had three honorees, while Fresno State had one representative.
The 2011 WAC season is set to kickoff Aug. 19 with all eight teams in action. The WAC Soccer Tournament heads to Fresno State Soccer/Lacrosse Field in Fresno, Calif. The six-team tournament will be held November 3-4, 6.