|Vandal soccer picked second|
DENVER – The Idaho women’s soccer team was picked to finish second in the Western Athletic Conference in 2013 and three Vandal players; Katie Baran, Nitalia Zuniga and Chelsie Breen; were selected to the preseason all-WAC team, the league announced Monday.
Earning 23 points in the preseason poll, Idaho tied for second with Utah Valley, behind overwhelming favorite Seattle U with 36 points. Idaho went 6-14-1 last season and 3-4-1 in the WAC, reaching the WAC tournament for the third consecutive season. The Vandals return 11 letter-winners and 13 players overall from last season, while bringing in 13 newcomers for 2013.
Baran, a junior midfielder from Nine Mile Falls, Wash., played in all 21 games for Idaho in 2012 and is Idaho’s leading returning goal-scorer, netting four goals to go along with eight assists last season.
Zuniga, a senior from Ventura, Calif., returns to the back line for Idaho after playing in 19 games in 2012. She scored one goal on eight shots and was a WAC all-academic selection.
Breen, also a senior defender, scored one goal and five shots in 2012. The Cheney, Wash., native started all 20 games she played last season and has started 60 games in her first three years at Idaho.
Seattle’s Stephanie Verdoia earned the league’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year honor, while her teammate Julia Besagno was selected as the preseason Defensive Player of the year.
WAC-newcomer Bakersfield was picked to finish fourth in the poll, just one point behind the Vandals and Wolverines with 22 points. New Mexico State followed in fifth with 21 points, and Kansas City, with 13 points, and Grand Canyon, with nine, rounded out the poll.
Idaho will see its first action of the 2013 season on Aug. 16 when it hosts Oklahoma in an exhibition at Guy Wicks field. The Vandals open the regular season with five straight road matches beginning Aug. 23 at Weber State. Idaho’s first regular season home match is Sept. 13 against Eastern Washington.