College Soccer News’ 2020 preseason poll took into consideration all Division I teams whether or not they are playing in the fall. The circumstances surrounding the poll and the season are obvioulsy different this year than in the past with most conferences not playing in the fall due to COVID-19 concerns. A spring season is still a possibility depending upon the conditions existing at the time.
College Soccer News’ preseason poll is based on a combination of factors including performance the past season, returning talent and experience, depth, existing gaps, the projected impact of recruiting classes, and intangibles like leadership and team chemistry. Preseason polls are simply a starting point. When seeking input in regard to whether or not to issue a preseason poll this year the best response and advice received was “why not.”
|#1||Georgetown||One of the few certainties at this point is that the Hoyas will be formidable once again. Georgetown is a very talented, unified, deep and balanced team with skilled and team oriented players at every position. A lot of familiar faces supplemented by one of the top recruiting classes in the country will be wearing a Georgetown uniform this year. Senior All-American forward Derek Dodson (11g, 8a) is a prime timer who has the ability to create nightmare matchup problems for opponents. Senior All-American midfielder Jacob Montes (11g, 5a) is a playmaker and workhorse in the middle of the park who will not be outworked by anyone.|
Junior Zach Riviere (4g, 2a) adds yet another dimension to the attack up top. Seniors Paul Rothrock (4g, 7a) and Jack Beer (3g, 4a) and sophomores Dante Polvara (4g, 2a), Will Sands (1g, 1a) and Aidan Rocha (0g, 1a) round out a very deep midfield.
Senior backs Rio Hope-Gund (0g, 2a), Sean O’Hearn (0g, 4a) and Chris Le and sophomore Daniel Wu (1g, 0a) who have an impressive freshman season round out the backline. Goalkeepers junior Giannis Nilopolidis and sophomore Tomas Romero, who very effectively rotated games last year, will anchor the defense.
|#2||Stanford||The Cardinal will be talented, deep, and much more experienced than last year in large part due to the fact that the current sophomores now have a year of playing time under their belts. Redshirt junior playmaker Zach Ryan (6g, 2a) and sophomores Ousseni Bouda (5g, 5a) and Gabe Segal (6g, 0a) who had remarkable freshman seasons are all dangerous finishers. Senior Charlie Wehan (3g, 2a) is among returning midfielders.|
Stanford knows how to win better than most with great defense and no team in the country has been as consistently effective on the defensive side as the Cardinal. Replacing what two-time All-American center back Tanner Beason (5g, 1a) brought to the table will be difficult but senior Logan Panchot (0g, 8a) and sophomores Keegan Tingey and Keegan Hughes provide a very tenacious backline upon which to build. Redshirt junior All-American Andrew Thomas returns in goal to anchor what will likely be another very solid Stanford defense.
|#3||Clemson||The Tigers will have to adjust to the departure of MAC Hermann Trophy winner forward Robbie Robinson (18g, 9a) and All-American defender Malick Mbaye (3g, 1a) who was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Both leave big shoes to fill and will no doubt be missed but the bottom line is that the overall talent level at Clemson looks to be just as good, if not better, in 2020 than it was in 2019 when the Tigers were 18-2-2 overall and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. |
The departure of a player like Robinson who scored eighteen goals would normally create huge concerns regarding offensive productivity but that is not the case at Clemson due to the fact that the Tigers who averaged 3.18 goals per game were not a one dimensional team offensively last year. Clemson’s attack oriented mindset will be on full display again in 2020. All-American Kimarmi Smith (13g, 5a) and sophomores Mohamed Seye (5g, 8a) and James Brighton (6g, 2a) return to power the offense up top. Sophomore Philip Mayaka (2g, 8a) and junior Grayson Barber (10g, 9a) who were 2019 All-ACC selections are part of a very deep 2020 Tiger midfield that was strengthened with the addition of graduate student transfer Callum Johnson.
Senior Justin Malow (0g, 5a), junior Charlie Arsenio (0g, 1a) and sophomore Oskar Agren (1g, 4a) return in the back along with junior goalkeeper George Marks who was a 2019 All-ACC Second Team selection.
|#4||Wake Forest||Adversity in one season often strengthens a team the following season. Talent, depth and grit. Bobby Muuss had ample reason to tell his team last year that “It’s next man up.” Wake Forest had a slew of injuries in 2019 that necessitated lineup changes but they still managed to go 16-5-2 overall and to play their way into the College Cup for the sixth time. |
The Demon Deasons will again be a multidimensional and experienced squad in 2020. Junior Kyle Holcomb (9g, 0a) looks to be the go-to guy up top in 2020. Senior Machop Chol (4g, 8a) and sophomore Calvin Harris (6g, 3a) are among others who will add balance and quickness to the offense. The graduation of two-time All-American Bruno Lapa leaves a void to fill in the midfield but the return of junior Isaiah Parente (1g, 7a) senior Justin MaMaster (4g, 1a) junior Aristotle Zarris (3g, 4a), and sophomore Omar Hernandez (1g, 4a) means that Wake Forest will again have a very formidable midfield.
Redshirt senior defender Michael DeShields, a three-year starter, will anchor the defense along with redshirt junior goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg who had had a 0.72 goals against average and nine shutouts last year.
|#5||SMU||The Mustangs have the ingredients to run and gun again in 2020. Seven starters return from the 2018 team that was 18-2-1 overall. They will be without the playmaking ability of forward Garrett McLaughlin (16g, 5a) and defender Eddie Munjoma (12g, 8a) but have done a great job of addressing the gaps with the addition of a recruiting class that includes transfers sophomore forwad Papa Ndoye who was an All-NEC First Team selection last year at Long Island University, junior midfielder Skage Simonsen who was an All-Big East Second Team selection at St. John’s, and junior defender Timo Hummrich who was a First Team All-CAA member at Delaware. SMU will be a difficult team to top if the newcomers contribute to filling the voids and make a smooth transition. If they don’t, the Mustangs may be vulnerable against top tier opponents. |
SMU’s midfield looks to be among the best in the country. They are built to run and stretch opposing defenders. Returning midfielders include juniors Gabriel Costa (8g, 11a), the 2019 AAC Co-Midfielder of the Year, Knut Ahlander (7g, 13a), a 2019 All-AAC Second Team selection, and Lane Warrington (0g, 3a) and seniors Nicky Hernandez (5g, 2a) and Noah Hilt (2g, 2a).
Seniors Brandon Terwege and Talen Maples provide a solid foundation in the back and senior Grant Makela, the starter in goal for the past two seasons, gives the Mustangs a strong presence in goal.
|#6||Indiana||Never underestimate the Hoosiers. Indiana’s roster changed dramatically last year due to the departure of ten starters from the 2018 team that advanced to the College Cup. Indiana had a roster in 2019 that included eighteen true or redshirt freshmen. Despite the obvious challenges, ambitions at Indiana didn’t change. The freshmen proved to be difference makers, the returning players assumed greater roles, and the result was a very productive 15-3-4 overall record with an impressive 7-1-0 mark in Big Ten play.|
Indiana will enter the 2020 season with significantly fewer gaps to address and will not be reliant on freshman like they were last year. The biggest voids resulted from the decision of defender Jack Meyer (4g, 2a), the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and midfielder Aidan Morris (2g, 8a), the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, to leave early to enter the professional ranks. Sophomores Victor Bezerra (8g, 3a), Joshua Penn (6g, 2a), Herbert Endeley (2g, 3a) and Maouloune Goumballe (2g, 3a) and seniors Thomas Warr (2g, 2a) and Ian Black (3g, 1a) are among returning players who will power the attack. Redshirt junior Joe Schmidt (1g, 2a) returns to add stability to the midfield.
Redshirt seniors Spencer Glass and A.J. Palazzolo (3g, 4a) are among key returning defenders. Sophomore Roman Celentano who had a 0.55 goals against average with eight shutouts returns in goal.
|#7||Virginia||Virginia is coming off an outstanding 2019 season in which they were 21-2-1, won the ACC Conference Tournament, were awarded the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the national final. The Cavaliers would have been a comfortable choice for either the number one or two spots in the preseason rankings had forward Daryl Dike, midfielder Joe Bell, and defender Henry Kessler who were All-America Team selections not elected to forgo their collegiate eligibility to enter the professional ranks. Regardless, Virginia still warrants a top ten level ranking, but will not enter the 2020 campaign as strong as they would have without the additional departures.|
The cupboard is never bare at Virginia. Senior Nathaniel Crofts (6g, 3a, a three year starter, returns to add power to the attack up top. Seniors Irakoze Donasiyano (4g, 6a) and Spencer Patton (4g, 1a), junior Cabrel Happi Kamseu (2g, 1a) and sophomores Axel Gunnarsson (2g, 4a) and Philip Horton (1g, 0a) are among returning players who should figure prominently in the offense.
Sophomore Andreas Ueland (3g, 1a) and junior Bret Halsey (1g, 2a) are among the starters from the 2019 season who return in the back in 2020. All-American redshirt senior Colin Shuter , a starter for the past two seasons, returns in goal with a backline in front of him that may experience a learning curve due to the departure of defenders Robin Afamefuna and Henry Kessler.
|#8||UCF||Eight starters including four All-ACC selections are back from the 2019 team that was 15-3-2, won the regular season American Athletic Conference title, was awarded the number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the history of the program, and was ranked as the number ten team in the nation in both the United soccer Coaches and College Soccer News season ending polls. |
Five of UCF’s top six goal scorers who combined for a total of twenty goals are slated to return. Unfortunately, the one who does not return is All-American forward Cal Jennings who was responsible for eighteen goals last year including seven game-winners. The good news is that Scott Calabrese will have a lot of familiar faces to work with which should create stability and help ease the loss of Jennings . Senior Hattabiou Barry (2g, 3a), a three-year starter, is among returning forwards. Junior Yoni Sorokin (5g, 5a) who was the 2019 AAC Midfielder of the Year, senior playmaker Louis Perez (4g, 11a), sophomore Gino Vivi (5g, 8a) who was the 2019 AAC Rookie of the Year, and junior Mauricio Villalobos Vega (1g, 3a) are among a very talented, deep, and explosive group of returning midfielders.
Junior backs Yanis Leerman (0g, 2a), a 2019 All-ACC First Team selection, and Andres Hernandez Betancur (1g, 1a) return on the defensive side of the ball along with senior Yannik Oettl, the AAC Goalkeeper of the Year for the past two seasons.
|#9||Washington||It has been a while since the Huskies weren’t powered by standout midfielder Blake Bodily, who signed a homegrown contract with the Portland Timbers at the conclusion of his junior season. Bodily was a three-time All-Pac-12 First Team selection who became Washington’s first Pac-12 Player of the Year last year in twelve seasons. The remainder of the roster is pretty much intact, which means that the Huskies who are coming off a 17-4-0 season during which they won the Pac-12 title for the first time since 2013 and advanced to the Elite Eight will again be very competitive in 2020.|
Juniors Gio Miglietti (5g, 2a), Lucas Meek (6g, 7a) and Dylan Teves (1g, 8a) and sophomores Christian Soto (1g, 4a) and Imanol Rosales (1g, 5a) are the likely candidates to fill the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball due to early departure of Bodily and the graduation of Jaret Townsend (7g, 1a). Last year Washington averaged 2.14 goals per game while holding their opponents to 0.67 goals per contest. Whether they can maintain that level of balance without what Bodily brought to the pitch remains to be seen.
Junior Ethan Barlow (5g, 1a), the 2019 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, junior Charlie Ostrem (0g, 2a) and redshirt junior Freddy Kleeman (1g, 1a) are among returning defenders. Sophomore Sam Fowler who posted a 0.62 goals against average in thirteen contests last year returns in goal with the benefit of a year of experience under his belt.
|#10||Missouri State||The Bears had a breakthrough eighteen win season last year during which they established a new program record for wins in a single season, won the regular season MVC title with a perfect 10-0-0 mark, returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009, and won the program’s first NCAA Tournament game. |
Jon Leamy will enter his twenty-ninth season as the head coach at Missouri State with eighteen returning players including eight starters supplemented by a large fifteen member recruiting class that includes twelve international players. Last year Missouri State ramped up their productivity on the offensive side of the ball scoring forty-three times while holding opponents to a total of thirteen goals. The question in 2020 is whether Missouri State can come close to that level of offensive productivity without the services of All-American forward Matthew Bentley who contributed fifteen goals and six game-winners in 2019 during his one year tenure with the Bears.
The formula for continued success at Missouri State is simple: Build on last year’s opportunistic offense while maintaining a stout defense. The key to making that happen will depend in large part on the productivity of senior forward Josh Dolling (7g, 5a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons and was a 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-American. Juniors Jack Denton (0g, 9a) and Aadne Gikling Bruseth (2g, 2a) and sophomore Kian Yari (0g, 1a) are among returning linkmen.
Redshirt senior All-American Kyle Hiebert (1g, 2a), the 2019 MVC Defensive Player of the Year, returns to anchor the backline along with seniors Connor Langan (0g, 2a) and Greg Stratton (1g, 3a). Redshirt senior Michael Creek, the 2019 MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, returns between the pipes to add stability and toughness to what should once again be a very tenacious Bear defense.
|#11||Santa Barbara||The Gauchos gained momentum, confidence and credibility with a vintage UCSB run in the NCAA Tournament last year. It looked like business as usual when the Gauchos, who are now 1-5-0 in the Big West Tournament final, were outworked 2-0 by UC Davis in the conference championship contest. But Tim Vom Steeg ‘s squad was awarded an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament and rebounded to defeat California at home and St. Mary’s and Indiana on the road to advance to the Elite Eight where they were edged by Wake Forest 1-0.|
UCSB will have several gaps to fill due to the loss of the likes of All-American Noah Billingsley who was the Big West Defensive Player of the Year and attacking midfielder Thibault Candia who was the Big West Co-Midfielder of the Year that may create a learning curve and make this an overly ambitious ranking. On the other hand UC Santa Barbara has momentum and they are simply too talented to dismiss from preseason rankings. Senior right winger Rodney Michael (8g, 8a), a three-time Big West First Team selection, and sophomore midfielder Finn Ballard McBride (9g, 2a), the 2019 Big West Freshman of the Year, return to fuel the offense.
Junior goalkeeper Ben Roach, a 2019 All-Big West Second Team selection with two years of starting experience under his belt, returns to anchor the defense. UCSB’s productivity on the defensive side of the ball will have a huge impact on their fate.
|#12||Maryland||Some might consider this a generous ranking but you can expect significant improvement from the Terps in 2020. Maryland is coming off a 2019 season of growing pains and injuries to key players during which they still had a solid 11-8-2 overall record, a 3-3-2 mark in Big Ten play, and secured the programs nineteenth consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament. |
However, questions do exist regarding Maryland’s ability to consistently put together a full ninety minute shift. Sasho Cirovski’s Terps are at are at their best when they apply pressure, create turnovers, and quickly attack. Their inability to do that on a consistent basis last year, in large part due to injuries, limited their effectiveness on the offensive side of the ball and put their defense under greater pressure.
Redshirt senior forward Paul Bin, junior midfielder Wiliam James Herve and forward Brayan Padilla (2g, 9a) are among those who missed all or a large portion of the season due to injury but are slated to return. All should provide a boost to the Terp offense. Senior forward Eric Matzelevich (6g, 2a) who was a 2019 All-Big Ten Second Team selection and junior forward Justin Gielen (4g, 1a) are among others who should add to the attack. Sophomores Malcolm Johnson (4g, 4a), David Kovacic (3g, 1a) and redshirt sophomore defensive midfielder Nick Richardson are among returning midfielders.
Junior center back Brett St. Martin (1g, 1a) returns in the back along with senior right back Ben Di Rosa (1g, 2a) and senior left back Matt Di Rosa (0g, 2a). The decision of goalkeeper Niklas Neumann, a 2019 All-Big Ten selection, to enter the professional ranks in Germany creates a void and unanswered question that must be addressed in goal.
|#13||Michigan||The Wolverines are coming off three consecutive double-digit win seasons and three straight at-large berths in the NCAA Tournament including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen last year. This could be the year in which Michigan takes the next step and wins the Big Ten title and has a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Last year the Wolverines were 11-5-6 overall with a 4-1-3 mark in Big Ten play that was good for a third place finish behind Indiana and Penn State.|
Challenge number one is filling the void on the offensive side of the ball that exists due to the departure of forwards Jack Hallahan (5g, 6a) who was a three-time All-Big Ten Team First Team selection and Nebojsa Popovic (10g, 4a) who was the 2019 All-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Their departure creates the opportunity as well as the need for others to make a greater impact. Seniors Umar Farouk Osman (1g, 3a) and Mohammed Zakyi (3g, 0a), junior Derick Broche (7g, 3a) and sophomore Christian Pulselli (1g, 3a) are among those who could fill the void. Senior holding midfielder Marc Ybarra, a 2019 All-Big Ten Second Team selection, is a three-year starter and team captain who will set the pace in the middle of the park. Senior Carlos Tellez (1g, 2a), junior Kevin Buca (0g, 1a) and sophomore Harry Pithers (0g, 2a) are among other key returning midfielders.
The potential exists for Michigan to be very good on the defensive side of the ball. The backline looks to be strong with the return of veteran senior center back Jackson Ragen (2g, 4a), an All-Big Ten First Team member, seniors Joel Harrison (1g, 0a) and Austin Swiech (0g, 1a) and sophomore Carter Payne. Sophomore Owen Finnerty returns in goal after appearing in eight contests last year with seven starts.
|#14||Virginia Tech||The Hokies will be without several key contributors but this is a program that now has a roster with the across-the-board depth needed to annually reload rather than rebuild. The stability of the program is reflected in the fact that Viginia Tech has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the last four years.|
Senior midfielder Kristo Strickler (11g, 3a), a 2019 All-ACC Second Team selection who has been Virginia Tech’s leading goal scorer for the past two seasons, returns to power the attack along with sophomore midfielder Daniel Pereira (5g, 5a) who was a key contributor to the success the Hokies had last year out of set pieces. Senior Jacob Labovitz (5g, 2a) and sophomore Nick Blacklock (0g, 5a) are among returning forwards who will add balance to the offense.
The Hokies allowed opponents to score a total of twenty-eight times last year. Upward movement is contingent upon improvement in this area. Returning backs include junior Sivert Haugli (0g, 1a) and senior Jakob Bluemler (1g, 1a). Senior Mathijs Swaneveld who has been the starter between the pipes for the past two seasons returns in goal.
|#15||Marshall||The Herd returned to the national polls last year for the first time since 2001 establishing in the process that they could hold their own with anyone. Marshall’s history making 2019 season included a 16-3-3 overall record, the CUSA regular season and tournament titles, the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.|
The question now is what will head coach Chris Grassie do for an encore as he enters his fourth season as the Marshall head coach. Despite the departure of several key players due to graduation, Grassie will have a lot of returning talent to work with. Redshirt sophomore All-American and Conference USA Offensive MVP Milo Yosef (12g, 3a) returns up top to add power to the attack along with senior Jamil Roberts (8g, 10a), a CUSA Second Team selection, and junior Vitor Dias (3g, 3a). Senior Pedro Dolabella (7g, 4a), redshirt junior Collin Mocyunas, junior Vinicius Fernandes (2g, 3a) and sophomore Max Schneider (2g, 4a) are among a talented and experienced group of midfielders.
Versatile junior Jan-Erik Leinhos (2g, 5a) who was a starter last year and redshirt sophomore Ryan Sirk are among returning defenders who figure to play key roles. If there is an area of concern and a potential learning curve it is on the defensive side of the ball where the departure of centerbacks Illai Osmanu and Carlos Diaz-Salcedo and goalkeeper Paulo Pita provides the opportunity for others to assume a much greater role in 2020.
|#16||Seattle||The Redhawks’ season came to an end last year when they came out on the short end of a penalty kick shootout with Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament after the contest was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and extra time. As a result Seattle concluded the 2019 season with a sixteen game unbeaten streak, the longest unbeaten streak in the nation. Pete Fewing’s squad is coming off an impressive season with a 15-3-5 overall record that included a 10-0-1 mark in Western Athletic Conference play. |
The return of junior Declan McGlynn (10g, 8a), an All-WAC First Team selection, sophomore James Morris (8g, 2a), the WAC Freshman of the Year, and redshirt senior Noe Meza (9g, 2a), an All-WAC Second Team member, gives the Redhawks a formidable and balanced attack up top once again. Junior Hal Uderitz (3g, 3a), a two-year starter, and sophomore Jesse Ortiz (1g, 0a) who played in twenty contests with nine starts last year are among returning midfielders.
Senior Alex Acton-Petronotis, a WAC Second Team selection, senior Josh Castrillon (0g, 1a) and redshirt freshman Sam Tessler combine to provide a solid foundation upon which to reload the backline. Redshirt junior Akili Kasim provides stability and experience in goal after posting a 0.83 goals against average last year with ten shutouts.
|#17||St. Johhn’s||St. John’s has the talent, experience, and depth to have a high ceiling in 2020 if everything falls into place. The Red Storm return eight starters from a banner 2019 season that included a 14-5-1 overall record, a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013, and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.|
It is always a good sign when a team returns the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. Junior forward Tani Oluwaseyi became the first player from St. John’s in more than two decades to claim that honor last year. Oluwaseyi’s eleven goals were the most scored by a St. John’s player since Simone Salinno found the back of the net fourteen times for the Johnnies back in 2003. Junior midfielder Brandon Knapp, a two year starter, returns to set the pace on both sides of the ball in the midfield. Redshirt senior Matt Forster (1g, 1a), a three-year starter, and junior Einar Lye (5g, 5a) are among other returning midfielders who will play key roles.
The backline led by junior center backs Matt Chandler (0g, 1a) and Luke Hansen (0g, 1a) along with seniors Rafael Bustamante (1g, 1a) and Johan Aquilon and sophomore Jared Juleau (1g, 2a) should be formidable. Senior Jan Hoffelner and redshirt sophomore Luka Gavran, who split time in goal last year, return to give the Red Storm two very capable and experienced netminders.
|#18||Louisville||The Cardinals had a roller coaster 10-8-2 season in 2019 with a 3-4-1 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play in John Michael Hayden’s first season at the helm of the program. It was a productive but not necessarily vintage Louisville season. |
Hayden enters the 2020 campaign with a solid base of returning players upon which to build supplemented by what looks to be a very promising recruiting class. Senior Emil Elveroth (3g, 1a) and junior Haji Abdikadir (1g, 0a) are among the returning forwards who should add punch to the attack. The graduation of Cherif Dieye leaves a big void in the midfield but a solid band of linkmen led by seniors Elijah Amo (0g, 1a) and Carlos Sanchis, junior Cameron Wheller (0g, 1a) and sophomore Bradley Sample (1g, 1a) are slated to return.
The backline will require rebuilding. Junior William Portman is among returning defenders who should figure in the mix. Redshirt senior Jake Gelnovatch, a starter for the past two seasons, returns to give the Cardinals a talented and experienced shot stopper in goal.
|#19||Campbell||It can be difficult for a team from a mid-major conference to play their way into the national rankings. Campbell did it last year with a fifteen game unbeaten streak that included a 1-1 tie with North Carolina, two wins over conference foe High Point, and a 3-1 win over James Madison in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The potential exists for another banner season for a team that returns eight starters from the 2019 squad that was 17-3-2, won the Big South Conference regular season and tournament titles, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. |
Campbell’s top three goal scorers are back from the 2019 squad that averaged 2.68 goals per contest. Campbell will again have a high octane offense in 2020. The biggest, but by no means the only, threat in the Fighting Camels attack is senior All-American forward Thibaut Jacquel who accounted for eighteen of the fifty-nine goals Campbell scored last year. Junior Matt Lock (6g, 7a), seniors Humberto Chaves (0g, 1a) and George Bediko (0g, 1a), junior Eren Elbustu (6g, 4a) and junior Caleb Martinez (1g, 1a) return to give Campbell a deep and experienced midfield.
Sophomore left back Moses Mensah (1g, 2a), the Big South Freshman of the Year, junior right back Franck Momo (0g, 6a) and sophomore center back Bissafi Dotte (2g, 0a) who were All-Big South First Team selections last year bestow Campbell with a very experienced and tough backline to build upon. Senior Samuel Lechuga, a 2019 All-Big South Second Team member who posted nine shutouts last year, returns to anchor the defense in goal.
|#20||Penn State||Jeff Cook’s “team first mentality” began to pay dividends last year in terms of the consistency and toughness needed to put in a full ninety minute shift. Penn State upped their offensive productivity from a total of eighteen goals in 2018 to thirty-eight goals in 2019. The Nittany Lions took a big step forward with a 12-4-3 overall record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2014. They also opened eyes and enhanced their credibility with a 6-1-1 mark and second place regular season finish in Big Ten play. |
Cook will seek to build on the success and the winning culture that began to take shape last year with a solid contingent of returning players including sophomore forward Liam Butts (9g, 1a), a 2019 All-Big Ten First Team selection, midfielders redshirt senior Pierre Ready (1g, 2a) and junior Seth Kuh (1g, 5a), and All-Big Ten defender Brandon Hackenberg (1g, 0a).
The biggest unanswered question is who will step forward and provide the big play ability and the determination that All-American midfielder Aaron Molloy (9g, 6a) provided last year? The answer or lack of an answer to that question will have a huge impact on the level of success Penn State has moving forward.
|#21||Kentucky||The Wildcats return nine starters from the 2019 team that was 13-5-3 overall with a 4-2-1 mark in CUSA play. Kentucky earned their tenth overall berth in the NCAA Tournament and the sixth in the eight seasons that Johan Cedergren has been the head coach. The Wildcats advanced past Loyola Chicago 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Indiana 3-0 in the second round. |
Junior forward Daniel Evans (7g. 5a), an All-CUSA Second Team selection, sophomore forward Eythor Bjorgolfsson (5g, 3a), a CUSA All-Freshman Team selection, and senior midfielder Kalil ElMedkhar (6g, 7a), an All-CUSA First Team member, return to add punch and balance to the attack. Junior Marcel Meinzer (1g, 5a), an All-CUSA Second Team selection, sophomore Jansen Wilson (3g, 1a), junior Clay Holstad (1g, 2a) and redshirt sophomore Colin Innes (2g, 0a) are among other returning midfielders.
Redshirt senior All-American and CUSA Player of the Year Aime Mabika (3g, 0a) returns to anchor the backline along with redshirt sophomore John Michael Bandy (0g, 3a). Senior Enrique Facusse, an All-CUSA Second Team selection, returns in goal after posting a 0.88 goals against average last year.
|#22||Charlotte||Seventeen letterwinners including nine starters return from the 2019 team that was 12-4-4 overall with a 4-0-3 mark in CUSA play. The 49ers made their eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last nine years and advanced to the second round of play.|
Sophomores Axel Sigurdarson (3g,3a) and Kameron Lacey (2g, 2a) who were 2019 CUSA All-Freshman Team selections, junior Preston Popp (3g, 0a) and junior transfer Alex Willis will provide punch to the offense up top. The graduation of playmaker Teddy Chaouche (7g, 9a) leaves a big void to fill in the midfield but a solid and deep contingent of linkmen return including seniors Joe Brito (2g, 3a) and John Ranshaw and redshirt juniors Cooper Nugent (1g, 1a), Hunter Omli (1g, 0a)and Chance Pellerin.
The backline led by seniors Patrick Hogan, a 2019 All-CUSA First Team selection, and Luke Johnson, a 2019 All-CUSA Third Team selection, should be a team strength. Hogan and Johnson have been starters for the past three seasons. Redshirt junior Delasi Batse, a 2019 All-CUSA Second Team member who has been a starter for the past two seasons and sophomore Sean Suber who started the last seven contests of the 2019 season round out the backline. The graduation of Elliot Panicco, the 2019 CUSA Goalkeeper of the Year and a four-year starter, leaves a crucial void on the defensive side of the ball that must be addressed.
|#23||UC Davis||The Aggies are coming off a history making season in which they were 13-5-2 overall, won the Big West regular season and tournament titles, and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.|
UC Davis will seek to build on the productivity they displayed last year on both sides of the ball but will have to do so without the services of forwards Adam Mickelson (4g, 6a) and Kristian Heptner (6g, 1a) who were their top two goals scorers, midfielder Marte Formico who was a four year starter, and goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley who was the 2019 Big West Goalkeeper of the Year. Offensive productivity and the play between the sticks must be addressed in order for UC Davis to have a shot at duplicating the level of success they had last year.
The good news is that the cupboard is far from bare and the program has momentum. Junior Robert Mejia (1g, 2a) and sophomore Wumi Aladetimi (1g, 2a) are among returning forwards who Dwayne Shaffer may count on to help fill the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball. Juniors Andy Velasquez (3g, 1a) and Emmanuel Doherty (1g, 0a) and sophomore Max Arfsten (1g, 1a) return to provide a sound foundation in the midfield.
The backline looks to be very strong and experienced with seniors Jake Haupt (1g,2a) and Nabi Kibunguchy and juniors Sean Cooper and Max Glasser all slated to return. Junior Derrek Chan who saw action in one contest last year and redshirt freshman Charles Janssen return in goal.
|#24||Boston College||Ed Kelly departed after thirty-two years leaving the reins of the program as well as a very talented roster to new head coach Bobby Thompson. The Eagles return nine starters from a very young 2019 team that was 9-6-3 overall, secured an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, and advanced to the second round.|
Boston College has opted to not compete in any matches in the fall due to the team’s low roster size related to the fact that many incoming and returning players are unable to make it to campus due to the current challenges.
Last year Boston College was long on talent but short on experience. This year they check both boxes. The year of experience the younger players gained last year began to pay dividends as the season progressed which bodes well for the 2020 campaign. Sophomore Stefan Sigurdarson (8g, 4a), a 2019 All-ACC Third Team selection and All-Freshman Team member, is a budding star who returns up top to drive the attack. Sophomores Amos Shapiro-Thompson (4g, 1a), a 2019 All-ACC Freshman team member, and Mike Suski (4g, 4a), senior Beto Luna and juniors Kristofer Konradsson (3g, 1a), Jesus Sahagun (1g, 2a), Tyshawn Rose (0g, 3a) and Alex Mieles are among a very deep group of returning midfielders.
Redshirt senior David Longo and sophomore Victor Souza, a 2019 All-ACC Freshman Team selection, are among returning defenders. Junior Christian Garner who had a 1.12 goals against average in twelve contests last year returns in goal.
|#25||Yale||The Bulldogs will be without four starters including playmakers Miguel Yuste (8g, 4a), an All-Ivy League First Team selection and Ryan Matteo (2g, 5a), an All-Ivy Second Team member, but don’t expect a drop off at Yale. The Bulldogs have improved their win total each of the four years that Kylie Stannard has been the head coach. Their thirteen win season last year equaled the single season win record set by the 1999 team and resulted in the programs first Ivy League title and berth in the NCAA Tournament since 2005.|
Senior midfielder and 2020 team captain Mark Winhoffer (6g, 11a) who was the 2019 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year returns to pilot the attack and set the pace up top. Forwards Junior Paolo Carroll (1g, 5a) and senior Aldo Quevedo (4g, 0a) are among other very capable finishers who will add balance to the offense and help fill the void that exists. Junior defensive midfielder Enzo Okpoye, a 2019 All-Ivy First Team selection, also returns to add punch to the attack while playing a key role on the defensive side of the ball.
Junior Jeremy Haddock (2g, 1a) and sophomores Jake Schaffer (0g, 1a), Sigfus Arnason (3g, 6a) and Thomas Toney are among a sturdy group of returning defenders. All-Ivy First Team goalkeeper Elian Haddock, who had a 0.75 goals against average last year with five shutouts, returns to anchor what should again be a stout Bulldog defense.
|#26||NC State||Had David Loera not elected to depart early to enter the professional ranks this might have been the year that the Wolfpack took a huge step forward. Eight starters return and a group of players who logged significant minutes last year are slated to return from the 2019 team that was 9-7-3 overall with a 3-4-1 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Leon Krapf, who missed all but one contest in 2019 due to injury, is also slated to return. That means George Kiefer will have plenty of familiar faces to work with as he enters his fourth season at the helm of a program that earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament last year for the third consecutive season for the first time since 1985-1987.|
Junior forward Kuda Muskwe (5g, 2a) who had four-game winning goals last year is among the returning players with the potential to power the Pack attack in 2020. The midfield will be deep with several different lineup options available despite the departure of Loera (5g, 3a) and the graduation of Gabriel Machado (2g, 3a) and Tyler Gabarra. Juniors Ivy Brisma (1g, 2a) and Pepe Garcia (3g, 2a) who have been starters for the past two seasons and seniors George Asomani (1g, 0a), Brad Sweeney (0g, 1a) and Jose Morales and junior Aidan Foster (0g, 1a) are among those who figure to be in the mix in the midfield.
Seniors Jamie Smith (2g, 3a) and David Norris and sophomores Pablo Pedregosa (2g, 0a) and Kendall Edwards (1g, 0a) are among returning defenders who logged significant playing time last year. Junior transfer Parker Cross from Appalachian State bolsters the backline. The return of a healthy Leon Krapf who played every minute in goal during the 2017 and 2018 seasons is huge.
|#27||North Carolina||Things didn’t go well for the Tar Heels in the later half of the 2019 season. Typically a team that finished with a 7-7-4 overall record and was absent from the NCAA Tournament field wouldn’t crack the preseason polls the following season but this team has sufficient returning talent supplemented by a slew of talented newcomers to warrant inclusion. This group will not likely have the margin for error that the vintage UNC teams under Carlos Somoano have had and there are gaps to fill that may create some growing pains. Regardless, the 2020 squad will be very competitive if the returning players play to their potential, if the injured players are good to go now, and the recruiting class lives up to the hype. |
Seniors Alex Rose (7g, 2a) and Giovanni Montesdeoca return to power the Tar Heel attack up-top. Rose was UNC’s leading goal scorer last year and Montesdeoca who missed the 2019 season due to injury was their leading goal scorer in 2018. The loss of Montesdeoca last year took a big bite out of the Tar Heel attack. Senior Santiago Herrera (3g, 0a) who transferred in last year from UCLA and sophomore Jonathan Jimenez (2g, 0a) are among other returning forwards with the potential to add punch to the offense. The return of junior midfielder Lucas del Rosario (0g, 1a) who missed a large portion of the 2019 season due to injury is another plus. Juniors Milo Garvanian (0g, 1a) and Antonio Lopez (1g, 1a) and sophomore Cameron Fisher (1g, 0a) are among other returning midfielders.
Seniors Mark Salas and Matt Constant and sophomore Julian Hinojosa provide a solid and experienced nucleus in the back Senior transfer Fillipo Zattarin, the 2019 WCC Defender of the Year at St. Mary’s College, is among the newcomers who should immediately strengthen the Tar Heels. Junior Alex Smir who was the starter in goal last year with a 1.06 goals-against-average returns to anchor the defense.
|#28||Pittsburgh||What’s the difference between the established superpowers and a rising program like Pittsburgh? The answer may soon be nothing. It has been a long time since the Panthers were included in a preseason poll in soccer. But it should come as no big surprise after a breakout season last year in which they were 10-8-2 overall with a 4-3-1 mark in ACC play. Pitt secured a berth in the berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since back in 1965. To put that in perspective, in 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson was the 36th President of the United States and the average cost of gasoline was 31 cents per gallon. |
Nine starters are slated to return supplemented by a twelve member recruiting class that includes several experienced players with the potential to contribute immediately. Senior forwards Edward Kizza, a 2019 All-ACC First Team selection, and Alexander Dexter (3g, 6a) return to give Pitt a solid one-two combination up top. Both are three-year starters. Sophomores Valentin Noel (3g, 3a), an ACC All-Freshman Team selection, and Veljko Petkovic (6g, 5a) who was a 2019 All-ACC Third Team selection and ACC All-Freshman Team member return in the midfield along with senior Matt Bailey (0g, 1a).
The backline is very experienced and deep led by seniors Bryce Washington (0g, 1a) and Sito Sena (3g, 3a), junior Jackson Walti, redshirt sophomore Anthony Harding and sophomore Arturo Ordonez who was an ACC All-Freshman Team selection. Redshirt senior Arie Ammann returns in goal to anchor the defense.
|#29||California|| Kevin Grimes will enter his twenty-first season as the head coach at California with a good amount of experienced talent to work with including eight starters. He also has some work to do to improve the consistency of play of the Golden Bears who will seek to build on an up and down 8-7-3 overall record last year in which they were 4-4-2 in Pac-12 play.|
Senior forward Tommy Williamson (9g, 0a), a 2019 Pac-12 selection who was Cal’s go-to guy last year, returns to power the attack. Junior playmaker Jonathan Estrada (5g, 7a) and redshirt junior Alonzo Del Munda (2g, 9a) will add balance to the offense up top. Junior Taylor Davila (0g, 1a), a 2019 All-Pac-12 First Team member, returns to set the pace in the midfield along with senior Francisco Perez (2g, 6a), a three-year starter, and redshirt junior Lucas Churchill (0g, 1a).
Junior center backs JJ Foe Nuphaus, a 2019 All-Pac-12 Second Team selection and junior Ian Lonergan and senior left back Christopher Grey, a three-year starter, return to give the Golden Bears a very experienced and organized backline.
|#30||Akron||Honestly, it is difficult to know exactly what to expect at Akron in 2020. They have a ton of returning talent supplemented by a good recruiting class but the Zips had a lot of talent last year as well, and finished with a 6-10-2 overall record. On the other hand this is a program with a winning culture that has the highest winning percentage in the country during the seven seasons that Jared Embick has been the head coach. Akron was near the top of the list of teams that didn’t play to their potential last year but there are a lot of reasons to believe that was a blip on the radar screen and will not be the case in 2020.|
Senior forward David Egbo (7g, 4a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team selection and three-year starter returns to give Akron a top notch finisher and major matchup problem for opponents. Sophomore Will Jackson (4g, 3a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team member, adds another dimension up top. Senior and team captain Daniel Strachan (1g, 1a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team selection and three-year starter, adds stability in the midfield along with junior Colin Biros (2g, 1a), a 2019 All-MAC First Team member and two-year starter, junior Sam Tojaga (1g, 1a) and redshirt senior Diogo Pacheco (2g, 2a).
The backline has the potential to be very good with juniors Carlo Ritaccio (0g, 1a), a two-time First Team All-MAAC selection, Pol Hernandez (0g, 4a) and Marco Milanese (1g, 0a) slated to return along with redshirt junior Declan Watters and sophomore Jaden Wright. Senior transfer Will Meyer gives the Zips a very capable as well as experienced option in goal.