“Our coaches are doing a great job of recruiting, and Azusa Pacific continues to be a wonderful academic attraction for outstanding student-athletes,” said Azusa Pacific Director of Athletics Bill Odell. “It doesn’t hurt that our overall reputation within the NAIA is at an all-time high, and I think that is reflected in how opposing coaches are rating our teams in their respective polls.”
Long known for its prowess in football, track & field and men’s basketball, Azusa Pacific’s prominence across the NAIA continues to grow with its emergence over the past 10 years as a national power in soccer. In fact, it is soccer that heads the class of the Cougars’ fall sports in this year’s national polls. The men’s team opens the new season ranked No. 2 in NAIA preseason poll, the highest ranking ever in program history, matching the 2000 Cougars who ended the regular season also at No. 2. The women’s squad checks in at No. 5. The men are coming off their first-ever NAIA title game appearance, and the women are looking to make it 9 straight trips to the NAIA championship tournament.
Men’s cross country, which put together a fine season a year ago and has snagged one of the top recruits in the nation, is ranked No. 4, also the highest placing ever in program history. The women are ranked No. 20 in their preseason poll.
Meanwhile, women’s volleyball with an eye on its first-ever back-to-back NAIA Tournament berths, is ranked No. 14, and football, which is hoping to return to the NAIA Football Championship Series for the seventh time in the past 9 years, is ranked No. 11.
The Cougars officially open the new season this weekend when the women’s volleyball team plays 4 matches at the Fresno Pacific Invitational. Both soccer and cross country teams along with football make their debuts the following weekend.