LOGAN, Utah – For the third-straight season, the Utah State soccer team was picked first in the Western Athletic Conference preseason poll, selected by the conference’s eight coaches and announced by the league office Monday. The Aggies tied for first with San Jose State, and the two teams shared the 2010 WAC regular season title. This season, the WAC has eight teams with the departure of Boise State. USU and San Jose State tied for first with 42 points with both teams earning three first-place votes. Last season’s WAC Tournament champion, Fresno State, received 38 points to place third, earning two first place votes. Idaho was picked fourth with 33 points, followed by Louisiana Tech with 20 points. Nevada was chosen sixth with 18 points with Hawai‘i garnering 17 points. New Mexico State, in only its third season of play, was picked eighth with 11 points. “The results of the 2011 WAC Preseason Poll indicate how tight of a race its going to be this season. Four points separate the top three teams, and the first place votes are spread out over three teams. It shows how strong the growth of our conference has been and the parody,” USU head coach Heather Cairns said. Utah State was picked sixth in the 2005 preseason poll, the Aggies’ first year in the WAC, fourth in 2006 and third in both the 2007 and 2008 preseason prognostications. In both the 2009 and 2010 polls, USU was picked first. Idaho junior forward Chelsea Small garnered Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors, while San Jose State senior defender Jessica Ingram was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for a second-straight year. San Jose State led WAC teams with four preseason all-conference selections. Idaho and Utah State each had three honorees, while Fresno State had one representative. Utah State placed three players on the preseason all-WAC team with senior forward Shantel Flanary, senior midfielder Chandra Salmon-Christensen and junior defender Natalie Norris all earning honors. The three Aggies on the preseason squad were the most since four were honored in 2009. This is the third-straight season that Flanary has earned preseason honors. Last season, Norris was the WAC’s Defensive Player of the Year, while Flanary was named WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2009. “What an honor for Shantel Flanary, Chandra Salmon-Christensen and Natalie Norris. We are certainly looking for big things from these three. They have a lot of experience and have been keys to our past success. We are looking forward to them leading us to a great season,” Cairns said. The Aggies return 13 letterwinners and eight starters from last year’s team that finished 9-7-5 and advanced to the WAC Tournament semifinals. USU brings back four seniors in Flanary, Salmon-Christensen, defender Summer Tillotson and forward/defender Marissa Sanchez. USU opens the 2011 campaign hosting in-state rival at Weber State on Friday, Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. Fans can follow USU soccer at http://twitter.com/USUsoccer and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics. 2011 Coaches’ Poll Team (1st place votes) Points T-1. San Jose State (3) 42 T-1. Utah State (3) 42 3. Fresno State (2) 38 4. Idaho 33 5. Louisiana Tech 20 6. Nevada 18 7. Hawai‘i 17 8. New Mexico State 11 2011 Preseason All-WAC Team Chelsea Small, Jr., F, Idaho Kelsey Lord, Jr., F, San Jose State Kayla Santacruz, So., F, San Jose State Shantel Flanary, Sr., F, Utah State Jill Flockhart, Jr., MF, Idaho Lauren Sanchez, Sr., MF, San Jose State Chandra Salmon-Christensen, Sr., MF, Utah State Kendall VanDine, Sr., D, Fresno State Jessica Ingram, Sr., D, San Jose State Natalie Norris, Jr., D, Utah State Liz Boyden, Sr., GK, Idaho Preseason Players of the Year Offensive: Chelsea Small, Jr., F, Idaho Defensive: Jessica Ingram, Sr., D, San Jose State
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