The official start to season starts this coming Thursday August 18th and the PAC 12 will be looking to find the form from recent years where the PAC 12 has been winning the College Cup. In the last 10 years the PAC 12 has won four NCAA National Championships equal with the ACC who also has won four in the past ten years. In 2021 only 4 teams from the conference reached the NCAA Tournament which was low considering in 2019 they recieved 8 NCAA Berths. The 2020 Covid year was tough for a lot of programs and was a condensed season and was tough to read. This season will be the second year of normalcy so you should see the competitive standard of past years. PAC 12 has two new Head Coaches in Los Angeles both coming from PAC 12 rivals to start their new coaching journey. PS no more OT games in the regular season!
USC new Head Coach Alukonis drives down freeway from Westwood where she helped the Bruins win the PAC 12 Title last season. She will start her new campaign at Purdue Boilermakers on the road who had a strong season in 2021 finishing second in the Big Ten and reached the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament . This will be a good opening test for the Trojans. The Trojans will kick off their home stand against the 2021 BIg 12 Champs in TCU who lost on PK’s in the Sweet 16 to Rutgers which gives another opportunity to measure where they are before Pac 12 officially starts. Their final Non-Conference game is against UC Irvine who knocked off Coach Alukonis Bruins in the 1st Round NCAA Tournament. This Non-Conference schedule should get them ready for the start of the PAC 12 Conference opening up at home against who else the Stanford Cardinals. Looks like these strong early challenges for the Trojans will give them an opportunity to be fighting for the PAC 12 title with their last game of the season at home against, yes guess who UCLA very interesting.
USC RPI 12
UCLA new Head Coach Aozasa comes down from Palo Alto farm to lead the Bruins, during her tenure at Stanford they won two national championships beating the Bruins in the final back in 2017. They start their campaign at home against a competitive Iowa team that finished 4th in the very strong Big Ten Conference which they will be joining down the road. Talking of the road the Bruins road schedule is likely the toughest three game road trip in the country this year. Starting with Aozasa Alma Mater, Santa Clara who reached the College Cup in the Fall and won the National Title in the Spring in the same year. Sounds confusing but it’s true. They then fly to North Carolina to play Duke and UNC which I think will get them battle tested for the PAC 12, Rounding out their Non-Conference schedule with a drive up to Malibu to play the very competitive Pepperdine Waves who lost in the Sweet 16 on the road at Florida St 1-0. I think UCLA may have played in the NCAA Tournament before it started.
UCLA RPI 18
Todd and Cougars should be ready to go again this year. Last year they finished 3rd in PAC 12 and reached the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament and back in 2019 they reached the College Cup losing a close tough battle to UNC 2-1. Pullman being one of toughest venues in the country to play added with the competitiveness of the program in the last few years they should be looking for new higher standards this season. They will start Non-Conference off with the Wolverines at Ann Arbor to play the defending Big Ten Tournament Champs and NCAA Elite 8 run that ended in OT against Seminoles. The PAC 12 is always tough but this year the Cougars have all four California schools on the road so if they get the necessary results they could be looking at another deep NCAA Tournament run.
Washington St RPI 27
In the 2021 NCAA Tournament the Cardinals played arguably the toughest opponent you could meet in the 1st Round. The game as expected was very competitive and they lost to Santa Clara Broncos 1-0. In the last five years the Cardinals have dominated College Soccer reaching the College Cup three times and winning two NCAA National Championships. Coach Ratcliffe’s focus and mindset will be to get back to College Cup and their Non-Conference schedule will be competitive like always and they recently added an International game against Chinese National Team during the season. They also invited the Nittany Lions to play and end Non-Conference play with another match up at the Broncos just down the road and then open PAC 12 with the Trojans on the road the following week.
Stanford RPI 37
The Ducks last season were a game away from making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and considering they went to OT seven times and tied six of them this is rather extraordinary to say the least. Second year Head Coach Abel has changed the culture and this year will be a great opportunity to get the Monkey off Ducks back for once and for all. In Non-Conference they play three NCAA Tournament teams from 2021 with Santa Clara heading up to Eugene. The PAC 12 is somewhat friendly for them with six of eleven games at home and all the California schools at home too. They should be very interesting to watch this season.
Oregon RPI 53
The Buffaloes will look for their 13th NCAA Tournament Berth and just missed out last year. Another team that played seven times in OT with a record of 2-1-4 but no longer a concern with OT gone now in the regular season. Head Coach Sanchez will be looking for the consistency to get them back to the NCAA Tournament. They play a solid home Non-Conference schedule but the away schedule is very tough with a trip to Provo most likely in front of 4,000 + Cougar fans to play last year’s National Runners up and then play Michigan and Michigan St on the road to get them tuned up for the PAC 12. Colorado is always tough to play and will be looking to improve on their strongest PAC 12 season when in 2016 they came in 2nd.
Colorado RPI 54
The Beavers came close last season to receiving their 5th NCAA Berth in program history. Second year Head Sinacola will look to improve her team culture this season and get more consistent in the PAC 12 though they did knock after the Cardinals at the farm which very few teams have done over the years. Their Non-Conference schedule is solid with their main test being a tough road game at ACC power Virginia. In Pac 12 play they have all four teams that reached the 2021 NCAA Tournament at home which may give them an extra edge to get a couple of big RPI wins.
Oregon St RPI 60
A very talented roster full of quality and depth added with strong tradition of reaching the NCAA Tournament which the Bears have done 26 times and 12 under current Head Coach McGuire. They kicked off their Non-Conference on the road to the defending Big West Champs who knocked the Bears off last season so it should be a good early test. Then they have two other NCAA Tournament opponents before the PAC 12 both from the WCC with Pepperdine who reached the Sweet 16 who come up to play at Edwards Stadium. Then a week later they will drive across the Bay to play the Broncos. All this should get them ready to open the PAC 12 play with the Bruins on the road who they lost last year to in a very competitive double OT game. The Bears will look to improve their standings in the PAC 12 and it will most likely come down to their goal scoring punch last season they only scored 8 in conference. If they are consistent in the final third it is most likely they will be dancing in November.
CAL RPI 65
The Huskies will look to improve on last season where they had a -3 goal difference with 6-8-4 record. In Non-Conference last season they went 2-4-1 so it will be essential to get off to a better start but they did open with Duke and UNC on the road. This year they kick off their Non-Conference with two games at home which should hopefully get them into a better rhythm. In PAC 12 they went 4-4-3 and had some good results but again were inconsistent. Head Coach Van Dyke is very experienced and entering her third season at Washington will focus on being more balanced defensively and stronger on the attacking side to get the Huskies their 17 NCAA Tournament Berth.
Washington RPI 88
The Sun Devils return the Nation’s leading goal scorer in Nicole Douglas, not a bad starting point and with 12 games at home and 6 on the road this could be a good combination. They have a couple of tricky games on the road in Non-Conference but their main challenge most likely will be when Pepperdine comes to Tempe which should have strong RPI points on the line. They won 10 games last season but only 2 in the PAC 12 so the main focus will be to improve defensively if so they should pick up some more Ws which will get them back in the minds of the NCAA Championship Committee.
Arizona St RPI 90
Utah were very up and down last season to say the least but they had some very strong competitive results like 0-0 tie against last year’s national runners up BYU or another tie at UCLA who won the PAC 12. So the quality is there, finding consistency is the challenge and 2nd year Head Coach Nakada will focus on 2022 Utes to learn from these experiences. The Non-Conference schedule has two games that stand out a home game against Alabama who reached the 2nd Round of NCAAs and then a drive down the freeway on Saturday night with BYU which is their last game before the PAC 12 kick offs. This should get them ready to battle the rest of PAC 12 and the other main key is the goal production to give them an edge to get more results in conference to get back and receive their 9th NCAA Tournament Berth.
Utah RPI 105
The Wildcats are definitely on the young side and are in the transition stage of building with second year Head Coach Moros and will look to improve on their away form from last season where they went 0-6. Many questions will be asked this year for Arizona can they create the winning culture that was making the NCAA Tournament on a consistent basis again. They play a solid Non-Conference schedule with two NCAA Tournament opponents from last year in Grand Canyon and Pepperdine. These games will be opportunities to grow and measure what they can achieve leading into the PAC 12.
Arizona RPI 182
The Pac 12 may be tough to read this season with 7 new Head Coaches in the past three seasons it should make for a lot of unpredictable results and with the second season of somewhat normalcy after covid all this together leads to a very interesting mix.
Games to Watch
Thursday September 1st 7:00 PM Penn ST at Stanford TV PAC 12 BAY AREA
Sunday September 4th 9:00 AM PST UCLA at UNC TV ACC NETWORK
Thursday September 8th 7:00 PM MST Pepperdine at Arizona ST TV PAC 12 Arizona
Friday September 23rd 7:00 PM PST Washington at Oregon TV PAC 12 Insider
Thursday October 6th 3:00 PM MST Oregon St at Colorado TV PAC 12 NETWORK
Sunday October 9th Noon PST Washington St at Stanford TV PAC 12 BAY AREA
Friday October 14th 4:00 PM PST USC at CAL TV PAC 12 NETWORK
Thursday October 20th 6:00 PM MST USC at UTAH TV PAC 12 NETWORK
Thursday October 27th 7:00 PM PST Washington St at UCLA TV PAC 12 NETWORK
Sunday October 30th Noon PST Colorado at Stanford TV PAC 12 BAY AREA
Friday November 4th 7:00 PM MST Arizona at Arizona St PAC 12 TV Arizona NETWORK