OGDEN, Utah - The Big Sky Conference coaches have selected Northern Arizona as the favorite to win the 2010 soccer championship, the conference announced Thursday. The two-time defending conference champions return 10 starters and 17 letterwinners in 2010, with eight seniors poised to lead the Lumberjacks to a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. NAU also returns seven All-Big Sky selections and welcomes 10 newcomers for the 2010 campaign.
Of the eight head coaches in the league, six gave their first-place vote to the Lumberjacks, for a total of 48 points. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Sacramento State finished second in the poll, collecting one first-place vote and 38 total points.
Portland State, last season's regular season champion, finished third in the voting with 36 points and one first-place vote. Weber State, Idaho State, Eastern Washington, Montana, and Northern Colorado round out the poll. Both Idaho State and Eastern Washington were conference tournament participants in 2009.
The Lumberjacks open their season with an exhibition match on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Embry-Riddle. NAU will host Arizona State next Friday, August 20, at 4 p.m. to begin the regular season.
The first conference matches are slated for Oct. 7. The top four teams from the regular season will advance to the Big Sky Championship Nov. 4 & 7 at the site of the regular-season champion.
2010 Big Sky Soccer
Preseason Coaches’ Poll Results
School (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Northern Arizona (6) 48
2. Sacramento State (1) 38
3. Portland State (1) 36
4. Weber State 30
5. Idaho State 27
6. Eastern Washington 16
7. Montana 15
8. Northern Colorado 14