The hottest team in So Cal college soccer?
Lots of options, in D1 (UCLA's men, Pepperdine's women), D2 (Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State L.A., both genders), D3 (Redlands' men, Cal Lutheran's women), NAIA (Concordia's men) -- even schools not affiliated with anyone (Anaheim's Bethesda Christian, at 12-1-0).
Let's also consider Cal State Northridge. Both of the Matadors' sides found their best soccer as conference play began.
CSUN's men have been outstanding since a one-win-in-six-games stretch had them 2-4-1 following a 1-0 loss Sept. 23 against powerful SMU. They've won five of six since, all by shutout, and sit second in the Big West Conference with a 3-1-0 mark heading into Saturday night's home game against UC Davis.
CSUN's women won just once in their first seven games, but they've been solid since, going 3-2-1 since Sept. 23 -- and one of those losses was in overtime against Portland. The Matadors are second in the Big West at 2-1-1 and are home Friday night against conference leader Long Beach State.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Spaniard Victor Muñoz sure makes the most of his time. The sophomore midfielder scored a goal with two assists in just 39 minutes last weekend, leading UCLA to wins at Washington at Oregon State. He did his greatest damage in just 18 minutes against the Beavers, setting up Kelyn Rowe's first-half equalizer, then scoring the winner with 30 seconds to go in regulation.
Local conference Players of the Week:
Pacific 12 Conference (NCAA Division I
Men: UCLA's Victor Muñoz
Big West Conference (NCAA Division I)
Men: Offensive -- UC Santa Barbara's Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS); Defensive -- UC Irvine's Andrew Fontein
Women: Offensive -- UC Irvine's Cami Privett; Defensive -- Long Beach State's Kaitlyn Gustaves (Long Beach/Wilson HS)
West Coast Conference (NCAA Division I)
Women: Pepperdine's Laura Cole (Whittier/La Habra HS)
California Collegiate Athletic Assoiation (NCAA Division II)
Men: Cal Poly Pomona's Jonathan Enns
Women: Cal State San Bernardino's Casey Hirsch (Yorba Linda/Esperanza HS)
Golden State Athletic Conference (NAIA)
Women: Offensive -- Biola's Jessica Austin (Altadena/Maranatha HS)
ETC.: UC Irvine goalkeeper Andrew Fontein is among 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's soccer. Fan balloting will count for one-third of the vote. ... Pepperdine's Anisa Guajardo was the WCC's women's Player of the Month for September. ... Concordia forward Christian Ramirez (Garden Grove/La Quinta HS), a UC Santa Barbara transfer, scored his 14th and 15th goals in the Eagles' 4-1 romp Tuesday over San Diego Christian. ... Cerritos is ranked No. 1 nationally for Division III (non-scholarship) junior college women's programs. Defending state champ Mt. San Antonio is No. 2 in the men's D3 rankings.
RANKINGS: Pepperdine (10-0-4) is in the top five for the first time since 2003, ranked fifth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's Division I poll -- trailing only Stanford, Oklahoma State, Duke and Wake Forest. -- after opening West Coast Conference play with victories over San Diego and BYU. UCLA, which had been No. 3, dropped to sixth after an 0-1-1 weekend in the Bay Area.
Here's a list of local teams in the NSCAA rankings:
7. UC Irvine
13. UC Santa Barbara
Receiving votes: Cal State Fullerton
Nos. 1-3: Connecticut, North Carolina and Maryland
22. Long Beach State
Receiving votes: UC Irvine
Nos. 1-3: Stanford, Oklahoma State and Duke
13. Cal State L.A.
Nos. 1-3: Fort Lewis (Colo.), Simon Fraser (B.C.) and C.W. Post (N.Y.)
20. Cal State L.A.
Nos. 1-3: Bridgeport (Conn.), Abilene (Texas) Christian and Grand Valley State (Mich.)
Nos. 1-3: St. Lawrence (N.Y.), Messiah (Pa.) and Christopher Newport (Va.)
15. Cal Lutheran
Nos. 1-3: Messiah (Pa.), William Smith (N.Y.) and Trinity (Texas)
12. Azusa Pacific
Receiving votes: The Master's
Nos. 1-3: Hastings (Neb.), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Rio Grande (Ohio)
3. Azusa Pacific
21. The Master's
Receiving votes: Vanguard
Nos. 1-2: Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Lee (Tenn.)
OUR RANKINGS: The best in So Cal? Here are our rankings of local teams:
Division I: 1. UC Irvine; 2. UCLA; 3. UC Santa Barbara; 4. Cal State Northridge; 5. Cal State Fullerton
Lower: 1. Concordia (NAIA); 2. Cal Poly Pomona (D2); 3. Cal State L.A. (D2); 4. Azusa Pacific (NAIA); 5. Cal State Dominguez Hills (D2)
Division I: 1. UCLA; 2. Pepperdine; 3. Long Beach State; 4. UC Irvine; 5. Cal State Northridge
Lower: 1. Azusa Pacific (NAIA); 2. Cal State L.A. (D2); 3. Concordia (NAIA); 4. Cal Poly Pomina (D2); 5. Cal Lutheran (D3)