By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma State is projected for a return to the NCAA Division II women’s soccer tournament, but faces several challengers in conference play.
The Seawolves were picked second in the California Collegiate Athletic Association North Division – Sonoma State won it last season – in a poll of conference coaches.
Cal State Stanislaus is tabbed to take the north and is the overall conference favorite. UC San Diego and Cal State Los Angeles gained the top spots in the CCAA South Division, based on the conference coaches’ votes.
In preseason national rankings last season’s NCAA runner-up UC San Diego is third and Sonoma State 18th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top 25.
Several top players return from last season’s Sonoma State squad that reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in 12 years.
Top scorer Cara Curtin is back at forward. The senior from Maria Carrillo high and Santa Rosa Junior College scored 15 goals and added seven assists to finish second in the conference in scoring.
The CCAA Newcomer of the Year as a junior, Curtin made the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer All-America Team after selection to the All-West Region Team.
A pair of Seawolves standouts also back for another season are senior JJ McFarlin, a defender, from Santa Rosa high, and sophomore Margi Osmundson, a midfielder, out of Casa Grande.
Sonoma State begins regular season action at home Sept. 6 hosting the University of Antelope Valley. Cal Baptist visits Rohnert Park on Sept. 10.
Sonoma State opens CCAA play at San Francisco State on Sept. 13.
A year ago Sonoma State went 16-3-2 overall, the fifth-best record in school history. The Seawolves took the school’s first North Division title since 2008 and were second in the conference tournament. The Seawolves earned the top seed and first round bye in the NCAA West Region Tournament, but then fell to Western Washington in double overtime.