Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Coaches pick soccer fifth
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 07/31/2012
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DENVER – The Western Athletic Conference’s women’s soccer coaches picked the University of Idaho to finish fifth as a team and voted three Vandals to the Preseason All-WAC team in an announcement on Tuesday.

With 32 points, Idaho was projected fifth by the league’s coaches. WAC newcomer Denver earned six first-place votes and 62 points to earn frontrunner status, while 2011 champion Utah State earned three votes and was close behind with 59 points for second in the poll.

Seattle U, another WAC addition, earned 47 points for third, while San Jose State was fourth at 38, followed by Idaho. UTSA and Texas State, also new to the conference, tied at sixth with 27 points, while New Mexico State (19) and Louisiana Tech (13) rounded out the poll.

“The quality of the conference has gotten so much better,” Idaho head coach Pete Showler said. “Denver being picked first is probably where they deserve to be, and the teams that follow are all justifiable and that’s what our peer group sees.

“At the end of the day, the important thing is where you are at the end of the season.”

Among the individual honors, Idaho senior forward Chelsea Small was picked as WAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year for a second season in a row, while she and seniors Jill Flockhart (MF) and Liz Boyden (GK) were named to the Preseason All-WAC team. Utah State senior defender Natalie Norris was selected as WAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Small, of Solana Beach, Calif. (Torrey Pines HS), is Idaho’s career record holder in goals (31), game-winners (12), points (74) and shots (313). She also holds Idaho single-season records in the same four offensive categories. She was the 2009 WAC Freshman of the Year and the 2010 WAC Offensive Player of the Year. She is also the first three-time First-Team All-WAC honoree in program history.

Flockhart, a midfielder from Salmon Arm, British Columbia (Salmon Arm Secondary), is a Preseason All-WAC pick for the second year in a row. She is a two-time First-Team All-WAC selection from 2010 and 2011. Flockhart has started every game since 2009 at the outside mid spot and is second on the team with eight career goals and 27 career points.

Boyden is a senior goalkeeper from Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS). She was a Second-Team All-WAC pick in 2010 and was the Preseason All-WAC keeper in 2011, but missed most of last season after suffering a broken leg in the team’s third match. Boyden already holds Idaho school records for career wins (23), goals-against average (1.26) and shutouts (11) and is on pace to break every career GK record at Idaho by the midpoint of the season.

“The individual honors often come out because of the team effort and it will be no different this year,” Showler said. “This is great for Jill, Chelsea and Liz – I think it’s recognition of all their hard work and where they’re at, but it also comes down to how the team has helped them achieve those goals.”

Vandal soccer hits the pitch for the first time on Wednesday, Aug. 1, for the team’s first double-day practice. Idaho’s first match is Aug. 17 at Texas Tech, while the team’s first home contest is Aug. 19 against South Dakota at 1 p.m. (PT).

WAC Preseason Poll
1. Denver (6) – 62
2. Utah State (3) – 59
3. Seattle U – 47
4. San Jose State – 38
5. Idaho – 32
T6. UTSA – 27
T6. Texas State – 27
8. New Mexico State – 19
9. Louisiana Tech – 13

Preseason All-WAC Team
Kaitlin Bast (Sr., F) Denver
Kristen Hamilton (Jr., F) Denver
Chelsea Small (Sr., F) Idaho
Kelsey Lord (Sr., F) San Jose State
Nicholette DiGiamcomo (Jr., MF) Denver
Jill Flockhart (Sr., MF) Idaho
Kendra Pemberton (Jr., MF) Utah State
Monique Escalera (Jr., D) Seattle U
Anka Grotle (Jr., D) UTSA
Natalie Norris (Sr., D) Utah State
Liz Boyden (Sr., GK) Idaho

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Chelsea Small (Sr., F) Idaho

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Natalie Norris (Sr., D) Utah State
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