UC Riverside – The Highlanders are off to a great 4-0-0 start with wins over Marist 3-0, Iona 1-0, Detroit-Mercy 2-1 and Long Island 4-0. This is the first time in the Division I history of the program that UC Riverside has been undefeated through four matches. Coach Junior Gonzalez has indicated that “depth of the bench” and “the desire to outwork our opponent” are among the factors that have contributed to the Highlanders success so far.
To date UC Riverside has had a balanced attack that has produced a total of ten goals while allowing opponents to find the back of the net only once. They continue to play on the road with a match against UNLV coming up on Sunday September 9.
This is a team that was a solid 9-6-4 overall last year and that held their own in Big West Conference play earning one of the spots in the four team Big West Conference Tournament. Clearly no one is going to take them lightly. However, whether the Highlanders can continue to win once they enter Big West Conference play remains to be seen.
Marquette – The Golden Eagles are 4-0-0 for the first time since the 2000 season. They have wins over Milwaukee 3-2, Green Bay 1-0, UIC 1-0, and Drake 2-0. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Charlie Lyon has been taking care of business between the pipes with three consecutive shutouts and a goals against average of 0.50 to date. Axel Sjoberg, a six foot seven center back, anchors a tenacious back line. Junior midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka (2g, 1a) and junior defender Eric Pothast (2g, 1a) have been very productive on the offensive side of the ball.
The Golden Eagles will host Western Illinois at Valley Fields on Saturday, September 8. A win in that contest would match Marquette’s best start in the forty-eight year history of the program.
Last year Marquette lost four out of their first five matches and then surprised everyone with a 9-8-2 overall record that included a 7-2-0 mark in Big East play. Could this be the year that the Golden Eagles return to the NCAA Tourney for the first time since the 1997 season?
Western Michigan – The Broncos are off to a 4-0-0 start with wins over Marygrove College 4-0, Bradley 2-1, IPFW 3-0 and DePaul 1-0. The wins over Bradley and DePaul on the road signaled that this is a team that could make a little noise this year.
UWM is off to their best start since the 2003 squad won its first six straight. Coach Stu Riddle stated, “There is a very special unity and energy about this group of players.” He added, “Obviously we are happy with the start of the season, but it is just the start of the season.”
Ryan LeMasters (2g, 3a), Oliver Mayer (2g, 1a) and Marco Lobo (2g, 1a) have been at the fore of a Bronco team that has put a total of ten goals in the back of the net. Senior back Darren Jones and junior goalkeeper Sean Lewis anchor a defense that has posted clean sheets in three out of their four matches while allowing opponents to score only one goal.
The Broncos will put their undefeated streak on the line Thursday when they travel to Buffalo, New York to tangle with Canisius. The plot thickens in the near future as UWM’s dance card includes some very challenging opponents. Can they keep the momentum going?
N.C. State – The Wolfpack has jumped out to a 4-0-0 start for the first time since the 1987 season. Kelly Findley, who is entering his second season as the N.C. State head coach, has a track record for putting together unified teams that are better than the sum of the individual talents of his players. When N.C. State came from behind to top Santa Clara Findley stated, “The mentality from our full roster showed the most character. Everyone knew their role, performed it well, and did whatever they could to help us win.”
N.C. State has a 2-0 win over Liberty, a 2-1 win over Mercer, a 6-0 win over Delaware, and a 2-1 win over Santa Clara. This is a team that when in gear has the offensive firepower to wreck havoc on opposing teams. Junior goalkeeper Fabian Otte anchors the defense.
The Pack will be tested when they travel to face UNC Greensboro on Friday, September 9. They then return home to host Marist on Sunday. The menu after that includes an ACC season opening match at home on Friday, September 14 against highly regarded Maryland. Is the Pack really back?
Oregon State – The Beavers are 2-0-1 with a 4-0 win over Sacramento State, a 2-2 tie with UC Santa Barbara, and a 6-0 thumping of Manhattan. This is a team with a ton of offensive firepower. Sophomore Khiry Shelton (3g, 1a), freshman Mikhail Doholis (2g, 1a) senior Emery Welshman (1g, 1a) and senior Roberto Farfan (0g, 3a) are just a few of the playmakers on this team that can rattle the back of the net. If the defense led by backs Chris Harms and Colin Mitchell can hold their own against top notch competition the Beavers are very capable of putting a lot of wins on the board. Head coach Steve Simmons stated, “We have a good amount of depth that can come in and put in a good shift.”
Oregon State will be on center stage this weekend when they travel to South Bend to tangle with Notre Dame on Friday and Indiana on Sunday. They just might shake things up a bit.