MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the first time in program history, the West Virginia University women’s soccer team will open a season ranked No. 1 nationally, as the Mountaineers own the top spot in the 2017 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Women National Preseason Ranking.
The Mountaineers earned their first national No. 1 ranking in 2016 and held the position for eight weeks. After qualifying for its first NCAA College Cup, WVU finished the year ranked No. 2 nationally.
Stanford follows WVU at No. 2, while reigning NCAA champion USC ranks No. 3, South Carolina sits at No. 4 and Georgetown ranks No. 5. The Mountaineers open their 2017 campaign against the Hoyas on Friday, Aug. 18, with first kick from Shaw Field in Washington, D.C., set for 4 p.m.
North Carolina ranks No. 6, Florida ranks No. 7 and BYU follows at No. 8. UCLA and Auburn round out the top 10.
In total, four of WVU’s 2017 opponents are preseason ranked, with Virginia sitting at No. 11, Duke following at No. 12 and Oklahoma trailing No. 16.
The Mountaineers return to action following their most successful season in 21 years. In addition to the national runner-up finish, WVU posted a nation- and program-best 23 wins and 18 shutouts and swept the Big 12 Conference titles for the third time in four years.
Fifteen letterwinners, including nine starters, return for the Mountaineers, led by 2016 NSCAA All-America Second Team honoree Michaela Abam
. The senior forward paced WVU with a career single-season high 33 points (12 G, 9 A), which ranked No. 24 nationally.
The Mountaineers meet Michigan in the first of two exhibitions on Monday, Aug. 7, at 1 p.m., at U-M Soccer Stadium. WVU will then play host to Bowling Green at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 1 p.m.