#36 Washington State Women's Soccer 2012 Preview

Washington State Cougars

Overall Rank: #36
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-12
Washington State Women's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
Washington State Team Page


Washington State fielded a very young squad last season and managed to reach the NCAA Tournament and make an impact once they got there. The Cougars knocked off Kentucky in a shootout before being outmatched by a more experienced Virginia squad. With few departures, WSU is poised for another run at the College Cup. However, former coach Matt Potter left for Oklahoma and the Cougars will now have to grow up with former Auburn assistant Keidane McAlpine. Coach McAlpine is known for his tactical ingenuity and that could help what is pretty much a group of experienced sophomores take the next step.

2011 Record: 12-7-4, 6-3-2
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Keidane McAlpine

There is youth abound on Washington State, but this is not an inexperienced squad anymore. They have had their growing pains in the Pac-12 and have a couple tournament games under their belt. But it was defense that got them there and it will be defense that gets them back. It is the defense that loses the most talent, but they are also the most experienced. Juniors Rachael Doyle and Delaney Zalud and senior Mariah Cameron are ready to lead one of the best defenses in the Pac-12. Add Santa Clara transfer Zoe Jeffers to the mix and the Cougars have an experienced and quick defense. Even when the defense breaks down, WSU has a great keeper ready to take on anything. As a redshirt freshman last year, Gurveen Clair allowed just 17 goals in 23 games and three of those were against UVA in the tournament. She recorded seven shutouts and made 97 saves. With a year of experience under her belt, Clair could emerge as one of the best keepers out West as a sophomore.

By the numbers, the Washington State offense was below average. That is partly the way they play, but their 1.30 goals per game average ranked just 177th in the nation. But this is not a team that lacks goal scoring threats. Brandi Vega is the senior leader and tallied six goals and five assists in 2011. The Cougars had to rely pretty heavily on Vega in 2011 with mostly freshmen surrounding her, but that will not be the case anymore. Midfielder Jocelyn Jeffers led the team with seven goals and added five assists. She is poised for a breakout season. Other sophomores like Beau Bremer, Mesa Owsley, Bethanie Skelton and Nicole Setterlund all gained valuable experience as freshmen. The question is whether the team as a whole can avoid a sophomore slump.

Final Projection:
But more likely the opposite will happen. The experience gained last season is huge and the Cougars have the confidence to go back and do it again. And they should do it even better. The new coaching staff may need a little time to work out the kinks, but the spring games went quite well and there is little reason to doubt that this Cougars squad will not stay competitive in the always competitive Pac-12 and make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Now if they can find a consistent goal scorer or two, the Cougars could be the surprise team of the conferenceā€¦or even the nation.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Jocelyn Jeffers, Sophomore, M, 7
Assists: Jocelyn Jeffers, Sophomore, M, 5; Brandi Vega, Senior, F, 5
Shots: Brandi Vega, Senior, F, 48
Saves: Gurveen Clair, Sophomore, GK, 97