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COLLEGE: UCLA, USC start Pac-12 play

9/23/2011

UCLA and USC are streaking, albeit in different directions, as they head into their first Pacific 12 Conference clashes this weekend.

Colorado's and Utah's addition to the old Pac 10 -- part of the megaconference movement running riot in the NCAA's Division I -- has changed the landscape in America's No. 2 college soccer conference (the Atlantic Coast remains No. 1).

UCLA (7-0-1), ranked third nationally, opens Friday night at Drake Stadium against Washington. USC (3-6-0), looking to end its second three-game losing streak of the young campaign, starts conference play Sunday at McAllister Field against Washington State. Five of the Women of Troy's losses have been by one goal.

Four Pac 12 teams are in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's top 25: No. 1 Stanford, the Bruins, No. 17 Cal and No. 24 Oregon State. Washington State is receiving votes.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chandler Hoffman's hat trick lifted UCLA (4-2-1) to a 3-2 comeback win over UC Santa Barbara -- and back into the NSCAA's top 25. The junior from Alabama has seven goals in his past six games.

Local conference Players of the Week:

Big West Conference

Men: Offensive -- Cal State Northridge's Thomas Ramos; Defensive -- UC Riverside's Cody Suppe (Chino/Ayala HS)

Women: Offensive -- Cal State Fullerton's Ann Marie Tangorra (Arcadia/Arcadia HS and Cal State L.A.); Defensive -- Cal Poly's Brooke Gauvin (Valencia/Valencia HS)

West Coast Conference

Women: Pepperdine's Michelle Manning (Calabasas/Agoura HS)

Golden State Athletic Conference (NAIA)

Men: Offensive -- Concordia's Christian Ramirez (Garden Grove/La Quinta HS and UC Santa Barbara); Defensive -- Azusa Pacific's Joe Geletko (Twentynine Palms/Twentynine Palms HS)

Women: Offensive -- Vanguard's Lauren Skachenko (Chino Hills/Ayala HS and Cal Poly Pomona); Defensive -- Vanguard's Lauren Terry (Corona/Santiago HS)

ETC.: UC Riverside (3-2-1) heads to Florida for games Friday against North Florida and Sunday against Jacksonville, and if the Highlanders win both, they'll set a school record with five nonconference wins. ... SCIAC bottom-feeder Caltech won its first conference road game since 2007, upsetting Cal Lutheran's men, 2-1, Wednesday in Thousand Oaks. Theodore Wilkening and Mitchel Arene scored for the Beavers (1-4-0).

RANKINGS: UCLA's men started the season sixth in the NSCAA's preseason poll -- a little underrated, to be honest -- then started slowly, with losses at Louisville and UC Davis and a draw at Santa Clara. The Bruins got on track with the beginning of their home slate and have won four in a row, and this week they jumped back into the top 25 -- at No. 18, five slots below UC Santa Barbara, which they beat last Friday.

Here's a list of local teams in the NSCAA rankings:

DIVISION I

Men

8. UC Irvine

13. UC Santa Barbara

18. UCLA

Receiving votes: Cal State Fullerton

Nos. 1-3: Maryland, Connecticut and Creighton

Women

3. UCLA

8. Pepperdine

23. UC Irvine

Receiving votes: Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount

Nos. 1-2: Stanford and Oklahoma State

DIVISION II

Men

7. Cal State L.A.

Nos. 1-3: Northern Kentucky, Rollins (Fla.) and Fort Lewis (Colo.)

Women

Receiving votes: Cal Poly Pomona

Nos. 1-3: Florida Tech, California (Pa.) and Quincy (Ill.)

DIVISION III

Men

13. Chapman

Nos. 1-3: St. Lawrence (N.Y.), Messiah (Pa.) and Christopher Newport (Va.)

Women

22. Cal Lutheran

Receiving votes: Pomona-Pitzer

Nos. 1-3: Messiah (Pa.), William Smith (N.Y.) and Wheaton (Ill.)

NAIA

Men

6. Azusa Pacific

12. The Master's

18. Concordia

21. Biola

24. La Sierra

Receiving votes: Vanguard

Nos. 1-3: Hastings (Neb.), Mobile (Ala.) and Rio Grande (Ohio)

Women

1. Azusa Pacific

6. Concordia

12. The Master's

Receiving votes: Vanguard

Nos. 2-3: Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Lee (Tenn.)