The Bruins received seven first-place votes and 117 points overall in the Pac-12 preseason poll to edge out defending conference champion Stanford, which received five first-place votes and 115 points.
UCLA returns nine starters from last year's squad that went 18-3-2 and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals, including All-American defender Abby Dahlkemper and fellow U.S. Under-23 Women's National Team members Sarah Killion, Sam Mewis and Jenna Richmond. Also back are 2012 Olympians Rosie White and Chelsea Stewart and UCLA's record-holder for consecutive shutout minutes (564), Katelyn Rowland. The Bruins' top returning scorer is sophomore Taylor Smith, who totaled eight goals and 20 points.
First-year head coach Amanda Cromwell brings in the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the nation, led by U.S. Youth National Team members Gabbi Miranda, Lauren Kaskie, Zoey Goralski and Darian Jenkins.
UCLA has the most challenging schedule in the nation, facing each of the Top 3 teams in Top Drawer Soccer's poll on the road (No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 Notre Dame), along with No. 8 Duke, No. 21 San Diego State and No. 24 California. The Bruins' season begins Aug. 23 at 6 pm with a home match against Northeastern.