Missouri State – The Bears are out of the gate with a 4-0-2 record and have posted clean sheets on their last five opponents. Last year this group started slowly with a 0-4-1 mark but not this year. They continually improved in 2011 as the season progressed to finish with a 9-8-2 overall record. This is the same group that upset Creighton 1-0 in regular season play last year and that finished MVC play with a 5-0-1 mark and a tie for first place with the Bluejays.
The Missouri State backline has been rock solid so far led by sophomores Andrew Turner and James Fawke, senior Ben Griffiths and junior Jared Clark. Sophomore Andrew Riggs has been taking care of business in his first year as a starter between the pipes. The going is about to get a little tougher for Jon Leamy’s team as they travel to Albuquerque to tangle with UC Irvine from the Big West Conference on Friday September 14 and Dartmouth out of the Ivy League on Sunday September 16.
This is a team that can clearly be problematic for opponents but it remains to be seen whether they can keep pace on both sides of the ball as the degree of difficulty of the opposition rises a click or two over the next few weeks. If they can the Bears are going to be a very tough team to face.
Florida International University – New head coach Kenny Arena has hit the ground running at FIU. Under his direction the Panthers are 5-0-0 and off to their best start in twenty-five years. You have to go back to 1987 to find a season in which FIU was out of the gate with five wins. It is also noteworthy that the Panthers five wins equals their entire win total from the 2011 season and that four of FIU’s five wins to date have been on the road.
The Panthers have a 2-0 win over Bryant, a 2-1 win over North Florida, a 1-0 victory over Jacksonville, a 3-1 win over Wisconsin and a 2-1 win over UIC. After the win over UIC Arena stated, “Winning tough road matches like this can only make us better, but we still have a ways to go.”
Sophomore forwards Quentin Albrecht (5g, 1a) and Colby Burdette (2g, 1a) have provided the offensive firepower so far for the Panthers while freshman netminder Robin Spiegel has anchored a defense that has allowed only three goals to date.
FIU will face their toughest challenge to date when they travel to Fort Myers on Friday September 14 to battle with a very good Furman team. The Panthers then return to Miami to host UMKC on Sunday, September 16.
SIUE – Few teams in the country are off to a better start that the Cougars who are 5-1-0 with solid wins over Virginia Tech 3-1, James Madison 1-0, Rutgers 1-0, DePaul 3-0 and UMKC 1-0. Their lone loss was a 2-1 defeat against a very talented Akron team.
Cougar head coach Kevin Kalish stated, “Overall we’re close to clicking on all cylinders.” He added, “We need to make sure we bring the right approach to each game and keep progressing on both sides of the ball. It’s still fairly early in the season, and there are a lot of games left on the schedule.”
SIUE has a big test coming up on Friday, September 14 when they travel to Bloomington to square off with the Indiana Hoosiers. A win in that contest would be a real statement for the Cougars who are currently ranked as the number twenty-two team in the nation by College Soccer News and the NSCAA.
Sophomore center back Matt Polster and junior goalkeeper John Berner are part of a SIUE defense that has allowed a total of only three goals. A balanced offense is led by senior forward Kevin Stoll (2g, 1a), sophomore forward Christian Volesky (3g, 0a), senior forward Jared Tejada (2g, 2a) and senior midfielder Brian Groark (1g, 0a).
Cornell – The Big Red is off an running with a perfect 4-0-0 start that includes wins over CS Fullerton 2-1, LMU 2-0, Lafayette College 1-0 and Buffalo 4-0. The big story at Cornell is junior forward Daniel Haber (6g, 2a) who has been named the Ivy League Player of the Week for the past two weeks. Haber has recorded two hat tricks to date. The Cornell defense led by junior defender Patrick Slogic, junior midfielder Benjamin Williams and veteran senior goalkeeper Rick Pflasterer has allowed only one goal to date.
The Big Red will place their undefeated record on the line this weekend when they square off with Vermont on Friday September 14 and Wofford on Sunday September 16. Opinions differ on whether or not Cornell will be able to continue their winning ways when they get into Ivy League play but for now they are clearly taking care of business on both sides of the ball.
High Point – The Panthers have put seventeen in the back of the net in five games while allowing opponents to score a total of three goals. Coach Dustin Fonder’s team is 5-0-0 and off to their best start since High Point began Division I play. This is not a team to be taken lightly. The Panthers have a 4-2 win over Elon, a 3-1 win over Adelphi, a 6-0 victory over Northern Kentucky, a 2-0 win over Navy, and a 2-0 win over UNC Greensboro.
High Point begins Big South Conference play on Saturday, September 15 when they welcome Longwood to Vert Stadium. Sophomore forward Mamadee Nyepon (5g, 0a), senior midfielders Shawn Sloan (2g, 5a), and Shane Malcom (2g, 3a) and freshman forward Ben Burdon (3g, 0a) are among the playmakers on this team. RS Freshman goalkeeper Kody Palmer and midfielder Shane Malcom anchor the defense.
Syracuse – It just seemed like a matter of time before the Orange would begin to increase their wins under the direction of Ian McIntyre who enters his third season at the helm of the Syracuse program. The Orange are 5-1-0 and off to their best start in sixteen years. Syracuse has wins over Albany 2-0, Binghamton 1-0, Colgate 6-0, NJIT 4-0, and Saint Bonaventure 5-0. Their lone loss was to Niagara 2-1.
Syracuse currently leads the NCAA in goals with nineteen, assists with seventeen and points with 55. Their nineteen goals in six matches is just one less than they scored in total last year. The Orange also has been sharp on the defensive side of the ball with five shutouts in six contests.
Junior forward Tony Asante leads Syracuse in scoring with five goals. Senior forward Lars Muller and freshman midfielder Jordan Vale have each contributed three goals. Senior midfielder Ted Cribley has added four assists while senior forward Louis Clark has provided three.
Sophomore back Skylar Thomas and freshman goalkeeper Alex Bono are part of a solid Syracuse defense that has allowed a total of only two goals to date. The Orange face a challenge this weekend when they travel to Las Vegas to participate in the UNLV Nike Invitational. They will face host UNLV on Friday, September 14 and Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, September 16.
Canisius College – The Grifs are 4-0-2 and off to the best start in the program’s history. The four wins so far this season equals the team’s win total in 2011. Canisius began the season with a 1-1 tie with Buffalo and a 0-0 tie with Robert Morris. They have since won four in a row topping Eastern Illinois 4-3, IUPUI 2-1, Western Michigan 1-0 and Detroit 4-2.
The Grifs are also making the trek to Las Vegas where they will square off with Cal State Fullerton on Friday, September 14 and UNLV on Sunday, September 16.
Senior forward Gavin Falconer (4g, 3a) has been the big dog in the Canisius offense so far this year. He has twice been named the MAAC Offensive Player of the Week and was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week. Senior forward Regan Steele (2g, 0a) and sophomore forward Asani Samuels (2g, 0a) add an additional dimension to the attack. Sophomore Denver Spearman has contributed two helpers.
Senior Andrew Incho, sophomores A.C. LaFlore and Ryan Schroen and freshman Alex De Carolis and senior goalkeeper Kareem Gray round a backline that has allowed a total of seven goals.