CSN Preseason Top 30 Polls

College Soccer News 2018 Preseason National Poll

Preseason polls are simply a starting point.  You can count on significant difference between preseason and season ending polls since there are always teams that under and over achieve.  There are a lot of unknowns including how teams will adjust to departures, the growth of returning players, the impact that newcomers will have, and the inevitable injuries that may occur throughout the season. College Soccer News' preseason poll is based on a combination of factors including performance the past season, returning talent, returning experience, depth, the gaps that have to be filled, the potential impact of recruiting classes, and intangibles like leadership, team chemistry, and toughness. 

#1

Stanford

The Cardinal have gotten used to hoisting college soccer's most coveted hardware.  Stanford's roster has changed signficiantly due to graduation but its ambitions have not.  After three consecutive national championships, the Cardinal warrant a number one ranking until someone else establishes otherwise. Senior Amir Bashti (6g, 2a), juniors Jared Gilbey (0g, 6a) and Derek Waldeck (0g, 5a) and sophomore Charlie Wehan (0g, 5a) are among returning players who add power to the attack.  Senior Adam Mosharrafa (1g, 2a), junior Tanner Beason (4g, 3a) and sophomore Logan Panchot (2g, 1a) provide a solid foundation in the back.  

#2

Indiana 

Nine hungry starters return from the 2017 team that recorded eighteen wins and advanced to the national championship match.  Seniors Cory Thomas (7g, 4a), Trevor Swartz (4g, 8a), Austin Panchot (4g, 4a) and sophomores Griffin Dorsey (3g, 6a) and Justin Rennicks (0g, 1a) will power what should be a balanced Hoosier offense.  Andrew Gutman (7g, 4a), Rece Buckmaster (0g, 6a) and Timmy Mehl (3g, 1a) and defensive midfielder Francesco Moore (3g, 2a) join sophomore goalkeeper Trey Muse to give Indiana a defense that may be the best in the country.  The early season schedule is challenging with season opening games on the road against Wake Forest and North Carolina. Indiana's ceiling in 2018?  The sky is the limit.           

#3

North Carolina 

Replacing forwards Alan Winn (11g, 2a),  Zach Wright  (4g, 11a) and midfielder Cam Lindley (7g, 13a) is a priority. Nonetheless, the return of junior Jelani Pieters (9g, 7a), senior Nils Bruening and sophomores Lucas Del Rosario (4g, 3a), Alex Rose (1g, 0a) and Giovanni Montesdeoca (4g, 1a) means the Tar Heels will be a force once again on the offensive side of the ball.  Juniors Mauricio Pineda (3g, 1a), Jeremy Kelly (2g, 3a) and Jack Skahan (2g, 3a) provide the necleus of another productive midfield.  Senior Alex Comsia and sophomores John Nelson and Mark Salas return in the back.  Senoir James Pyle and sophomores Alec Smir and Drew Romig give the Heels three stellar netminders.  No early season contest looms larger than the North Carolina and Indiana matchup on August 26.    

#4

Michigan State

Eight starters are back from the 2017 team that was 13-3-4 and advanced to the Elite Eight where they were topped by Indiana in a contest that was decided by a penalty kick shootout. Michigan State has advanced to the Elite Eight three out of the past five seasons.  Seniors Ryan Sierakowski (9g, 3a) and DeJuan Jones (7g, 6a) give the Spartans a very productive combination up-top. Juniors Michael Pimlott (2g, 5a) and Giuseppe Barone (1g, 1a) return in the midfield. Seniors Connor Corrigan (1g, 7a) and John Freitag (1g, 4a) and sophomore MIchael Wetungu return in the back along with All-America netminder Jimmy Hague who was the 2017 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year.   

#5

Louisville

Louisville advanced to the Elite Eight for the second season in a row last year and for the fifth time in the past eight seasons. Six starters return led by senior forward Tate Schmitt who has scored a total of twenty-one goals in three seasons to date.  The addition of a recruiting class that includes several impact transfers and a sophomore class that appears ready to assume a greater role makes Louisville a very promising team once again in 2018.  Senior Adam Wilson (1g, 6a) and sophomore Liam Bennett (1g, 0a) will be key contributors in the midfield. Junior Cody Cochran and sophomore Ziyad Fekri return in the back along with sophomore goalkeepers Will Meyer and Jake Gelnovatch.   

#6

Georgetown

Seven starters return from the 2017 team that was 14-4-2 overall and won the Big East Tournament Championship.  Georgetown's playmakers are back. Sophomore Derek Dobson (10g, 2a) and junior Achara (7g, 1a) give the Hoyas a solid one-two combination up-top.  Both are impact players. Seniors Kyle Zajec (1g, 1a) and Ethan Lochner (2g, 3a) and sophomore Jacob Montes (2g, 5a) who were starters last year return in the midfield.  The backline should be very solid with seniors Brendan McDonough and Peter Schropp (2g, 0a) and junior Dylan Nealis (0g, 2a) slated to return.  McDonough is among the most talented defenders in the country.  The decison of goakeeper J.T. Marcinkowski to forgo his senior season to enter the professional ranks creates some uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball.  Season opening contests on the road against South Carolina and Coastal Carolina followed by home games against Radford and Stanford could set the tone for the remainder of the season.  

 

#7

Akron 

 

Akron is coming off an 18-4-2 overall season in which they advanced to the College Cup.  Count the Zips among the high profile programs who have some rather large gaps to plug on both sides of the ball.  This ranking might seem ambitious given the amount of talent that Akron lost but don't count the Zips out.  Jared Embick has a track record of successfully reloading so chances are pretty good that Akron will again field a team that will make their presence known on the national scene.  Senior goalkeeper goalkeeper Ben Lundt and sophomore center back Daniel Strachan (0g, 2a) will anchor the defense. Redshirt junior midfielder Skye Harter (4g, 5a) and junior forward Marcel Zajac (4g, 1a) are among those who Embick will likely look to for offensive firepower.  

#8

Wake Forest 

 

Wake Forest is an impressvie 55-8-7 during the three seasons to date that Bobby Muuss has been at the helm of the program including a 19-2-2 record last year.  The Demon Deacons will enter the 2018 season with more than the average number of new faces in key roles due to graduation and early departures. On the plus side, Muuss has added one of the top recruiting classes in the country.  Nonetheless when five out of your top six goal scores have departed there are uncertainties. Depth could be an issue. Sophomore forward Justin McMaster (2g, 3a) returns up-top.  Senior Brad Dunwell (0g, 4a), junior Bruno Lapa (2g, 2a), and sophomore Omir Fernandez (6g, 5a) are among key returning midfielders.  Junior transfer Alistair Johnson and freshman midfielder Isaiah Parente are among the newcomers who will contribute immediately. Senior Logan Gdula (1g, 7a) and redshirt sophomore Michael DeShields provide a solid foundation upon which to build the backline.  Junior Andreu Cases Mundet who had a 0.49 goals against average last year returns in goal to anchor the defense. The Deacons host Indiana in a barn burner season opener.    

#9

Duke 

 

Duke will look to junior Daniele Proch (5g, 2a) and sophomore Daniel Wright (3g, 2a) for offensive punch up-top.  Senior forward Sivert Daehlie who transfers in from Radford and senior midfielder Kevin Feucht who is a transfer from U.C. Santa Barbara are accomplished goal scorers who should add an additional boost to the offense.  Juniors Brandon Williamson, Max Moser and Jack Doran return to provide a solid necleus in the midfield. Sophomore Matthias Frick and senior Ciaran McKenna are among key returning backs.  Sophomore Will Pulisic returns to give the Blue Devils a talented and composed presence in goal.  Everything seemed to come together for Duke last year.  The momemtum should continue in 2018.    

#10

SMU 

 

The Mustangs will be without the services of midfielder Mauro Cichero, defender Jordan Cano, and goalkeeper Michael Nelson.  Filling their shoes will require that several of the returning players assume a greater role and that a few of the newcomers make an immediate contribution.  Junior forward Garrett McLaughlin (14g, 3a) returns to give the Mustangs one of the most explosive goal scorers in the country.  Sophomore forward Nicky Hernandez (2g, 4a) is among other returning players who will be counted on to add balance to the attack.  Senior Emil Cuello (2g, 5a) is among a deep and talented group of returning midfielders.  Juniors Eddie Munjoma (0g, 3a) and Philip Ponder (1g, 0a) and sophomore Talen Maples (1g, 1a) are among returning defenders.  The play between the pipes could be the X-Factor for the Mustangs.  

#11

Butler 

 

Butler returns seven starters from the 2017 squad that won the Big East Conference regular season title and avanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.  The Bulldogs will also have the services of highly regarded midfielders Jared Timmer and Marco Charalambous who missed the 2017 season due to injury. Timmer led the Big East with nine assists in 2016. All-American junior forward Brandon Guhl (13g, 3a) who was the Big East Co-Offensive Player of the Year last year returns to power the attack. Guhl is among the nation's most exciting players. The backline retuns intact led by seniors Joe Moulden, Kieran Geldenhuys, Michael Peay and junior Alex Lehtinen.  

#12

Clemson 

The Tigers will be very strong and experienced on the defensvie side of the ball in 2018 with center backs senior Patrick Bunk-Andersen and junior Malick Mbaye back along with junior backs Tanner Dieterich and Andrew Burnikel and sophomore Justin Malou.  Graduate student Jonny Sutherland transfers in from ETSU where he was a two-time Southern Conference Goalkeeper of the Year to give the Tigers an experienced netminder.  The challenge for Mike Noonan - who has guided Clemson back into the upper echelon of college soccer - will be replacing the offensive firepower that  Diego Campos (10g, 9a), Jason Wright (8g, 3a) and Oliver Shannon (4g, 5a) provided.  Sophomores forward Kimarni Smith (3g, 2a) and midfielder Robbie Robinson (4g, 1a) are among returning players who will add punch to the attack.  Clemson has also restocked by adding a strong recruiting class.  Junior transfer Adrian Nunez and freshman Grayson Barber are among the newcomers who could help retool the offense.  Clemson will be tested when they open the season on the road against Creighton and Omaha.  

#13

FIU

This ranking might seem high to some but if everying fits it will not be. The Panthers were 12-2-4 overall last year and won the regular season Conference USA title under first year head coach Kevin Nylen.  FIU has some gaps to fill but with eight starters back, including All-American senior forward Santiago Patino (15g, 5a) and junior midfielder Joris Ahlinvi (4g, 6a) who were named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List, there is reason for optimisim.  It never hurts to have a guy like Patino who found the back of the net fifteen times in 2017 returning. Sophomores Alessandro Campoy (7g, 8a) and Matias Barraza (3g, 1a) are among other returning midfielders who should add punch to the offense. Senior netminder Hugo Fauroux and senior back Simen Olafsen will stabilize the defense. Juniors Adam Hassan and Andrew Booth and sophomore Jordi Avila round out what looks to be an experienced back line. The season opener against Duke in Durham is an early season statement game for the Panthers.     

#14

Western Michigan

Western Michigan's breakthrough season last year was no fluke. There is no reason this team can't captivate the college soccer world again in 2018.  Losing the services of All-American midfielder Brandon Bye (1g, 7a) and forward Jay McIntosh (6g, 10a) on the offensive side of the ball and goalkeeper Drew Shepherd and back Zach Bock on the defensive side will sting.  Some retooling will obviously be required but the good news is that Chad Wisemen has a very capable  contingent of experienced players to work with. Key options on the offensvie side include seniors Tommy Clark (1g, 8a), Kosti Moni (5g, 2a), Jake Rufe (2g, 3a),and Connor McNulty (0g, 3a), juniors Giuseppe Vitale and Anthony Bowie (2g, 1a) and sophomore Pepe Martinez-Bertrand (2g, 2a). Senior backs Ben Thornton (5g, 5a) and Cameron Sipple and junior Alex Ruddock (0g, 1a) provide stability on the defensive side of the ball.  A go-to guy on offense and the play between the pipes remain key unanswered questions.   

#15

Virginia 

 

The Cavaliers will be without the explosiveness that forward Edward Opoku (8g, 4a) and midfielder Pablo Aguilar (7g, 4a) provided and without the stability that three-time All-ACC goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell brought to the defense.  Despite that, Virginia returns nineteen letterwinners which means that George Gelnovatch will again have a lot of talented players to work with. The Cavaliers have appeared in the NCAA Tournament for thirty-seven consecutive seasons so anything short of a another berth would be a huge disappointment.  Playmakers must  emerge to provide punch to the attack and a new face will have to step forward in goal.  Former role players stepping into major roles is the theme of the season for Virginia in 2018.  Sophomore forward Nathaniel Crofts (0g, 2a) could make a dent in the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball. Junior Robin Afamefuna (1g, 1a) and sophomore Joe Bell (2g, 1a) look to be catalysts in the midfield. Center back Sergi Nus (6g, 1a) is a gutty senior who gives the Cavaliers a talented and experienced presence in the back. Senior Prosper Figbe (0g, 1a) who was a starter last year and sophomore Henry Kessler will join Nus to form what should be a solid backline.  The biggest concern is offensive productivity.   

#16

Fordham  

 

Fordham is coming off an historic 2017 season that included a program best fouteen wins and a trip to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.  The Rams will seek to carry that success into 2018.  Fordham head coach Jim McElderry hopes to find some way to ease the loss of a talented senior class that included midfielder Jannik Loebe who had twenty-five career goals and defender Matthew Lewis who was the 2017 Atlantic Ten Defensive Player of the Year.  The Rams will rely heavily on forward Janos Loebe (7g, 9a) to power the attack in 2018.  Junior transfer Johannes Pieles is a proven goal scorer who should add an additional dimension to the attack. Returning midfielders include senior Matt Miller (0g, 1a), sophomore Andron Kagramanyan (0g, 1a) and  junior Bart Dziedzic (3g, 1a). The Rams have some gaps to fill on the defensive side of the ball.  The good news is that junior back Joergen Oland (5g, 0a) and senior goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu are big-time players who provide a solid base around which to retool the defense. Oland and Nuhn will be the glue that holds the defense together in the early going.    

#17

Michigan   

The Wolverines are well prepared for the upcoming season with solid group of players including nine starters back from the 2017 team that was 12-6-2 overall, won the Big Ten regular season title and was awarded the number thirteen seed in the NCAA Tournament.  A disappointing 4-0 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament and a 3-2 loss to Colgate in the NCAA Tournament in which Michigan squanded a 2-0 lead put a damper on an otherwise successful season. The ending should be fresh in the minds of the Wolverines and provide additional focus in 2018.  Junior Jack Hallahan (9g, 7a) and sophomore Mohammed Zakyi (6g, 4a) should pace the offense up-top.  Seniors Robbie Mertz (3g, 4a) and Ivo Cerda (3g, 1a) and sophomores Marc Ybarra (1g, 4a) and Jackson Ragen (1g, 0a) are among a solid group of returning midfielders.  Seniors Marcello Borges and Daniel Mukuna and junior Abdou Samake (0g, 1a) are among returning defenders.  Sophomore Henry Mashburn and junior Andrew Verdi return in goal. Michigan will be tough to beat if they avoid injuries and the sophomores get the normal bump in performance that occurs after a year of experience.   

#18

Seattle 

 

Seattle is coming off of a 15-4-4 season in which they won the WAC Championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It is a tribute to head coach Pete Fewing that the  Redhawks are one of only five Divison I programs to win at least eleven games in each of the last five seasons. The 2018 campaign promises to be another successful season at Seattle with a formidable group of returning players.  Fewing has also hauled in a recruiting class that includes several experienced transfers who should contribute immediately.  Senior midfielder Sergio Rivas (8g, 6a) returns as the centerpiece of the Redhawk attack. Another playmaker must emerge to add balance to the offense and fill the void that exists due to the departure of midfielder Alex Roldan (6g, 8a). Senior defender Nathan Aune, the WAC 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, returns to anchor the backline along with fellow senior Anthony Ayala.  Senior Josh Adachi who posted ten shutouts last year returns in goal. If everyone stays healthy, it's going to be difficult for opponents to match up with Seattle in 2018. 

 

#19

Washington 

 

The Huskies return eight starters from the 2017 team that was 12-7-1 and was awarded an at-large berth.  Key losses include highly regarded midfielder Handwalla Bwana who elected to enter the professional ranks after his sophomore season and defenders Justin Fiddes and Garrett Jackson due to graduation. Senior forwards Kyle Coffee (6g, 0a) and Scott Menzies (7g, 2a) and  sophomore midfielder Blake Bodily (3g, 8a) who was the 2017 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year  should provide offensive punch. Bodily is a budding star. Seniors Luke Hauswirth (2g, 1a) and Corban Anderson (1g, 2a) are among other key returning midfielders. Senior defender Quentin Pearson who has been a starter for the past three seasons and redshirt junior Saif Kerawala who was the starter in goal last year return to anchor the defense. The Huskies have the opportunity to gain a signature win right out of the gate when they open the season at home against Maryland.   

#20

Notre Dame 

Seven starters return from the 2017 team that was 11-7-2 overall but new head coach Chad Riley has some key gaps to address. Forwards Jon Gallagher (13g, 2a) and Jeff Farina (8g, 7a) have departed. Collectively they were responsible for twenty-one of the thirty goals the Irish scored last year. Notre Dame will also be without the services of center back Matt Habrowski and goalkeeper Chris Hubbard who were at the heart of the defense.  Returning midfielders include graduate student Blake Townes (2g, 2a). senior Thomas Ueland (2g, 2a), and juniors Jack Casey (0g, 5a) and Tommy McCabe (0g, 1a). A playmaker or two will have to emerge from that group.  Graduate student Patrick Berneski (1g. 0a) and seniors Felicien Dumas (3g, 8a) and Sean Dedrick who were starters last year return on the defensive side of the ball. Senior Ryan Krutz could prove to be the answer in goal. Every schedule presents multiple serious challenges but Notre Dame's in 2018 includes more than most.    

 

#21

Colgate

 

The Raiders found their footing as the season progressed last year bouncing back from a 5-10-1 start to win seven out of their last eight contests.  The wheels could have come off last year but they didn't which is a reflection of the robust culture of the program. Colgate became the first number six seeded team to win the Patriot League Tournament and then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the history of the program. Freddy Jonsson (5g, 0a), Steven DeLeo (4g, 2a), Uyi Omorogbe (4g, 4a) and Abdel Sanogo (0g, 2a) return to lead the attack up-top.  Seniors Oliver Harris (3g, 0a) and Tim Oberg (0g, 1a), junior Kentaro Morrison (2g, 3a) and sophomore Chris DePetro (1g, 0a) are among a solid contingent of returning midfielders. Senior Aram Ouligian (8g, 3a), junior Christian Clarke (2g, 3a) and senior Ryan Bellavance provide a solid base upon which to build the backline and stabilize the defense which was porous at times last year. Junior Jacob Harris returns in goal after assuming the starting position in the second half of the 2017 campaign.  The momentum should continue in 2018.   

#22

Dartmouth

Bo Oshoniyi takes over the head coaching job at Dartmouth in 2018 after serving as the head coach at East Tennessee State University for four seasons. The Big Green must overcome the loss of four-year starters defenders Wyatt Omsberg (4g, 1a) and Tyler Dowse (1g, 2a) and midfielder Matt Danilack (6g, 4a).  The good news is that twenty-three lettermen are back including eight starters. Senior Eduvie Ikoba (8g, 3a) is set to power the attack up-top.  The midfield will be deep and talented with the return of seniors Noah Paravicini (3g, 3a) and Justin Donawa (3g, 8a), junior Zach Kalk (0g, 2a) and sophomores Dawson McCartney (2g, 8a) and Kota Sakurai.  Junior Henry Baldwin (0g, 1a) and sophomores Matthew Ranieri and Braden Salvati are among returning backs.  Sophomore Christopher Palacios, a 2017 Second Team All-Ivy League selection, returns in goal after posting a 0.56 goals against average. Season opening contests in Bloomington against Indiana and Notre Dame will test Dartmouth's mettle right out of the gate.  The Big Green seek to secure the Ivy League title for the fifth consecutive season.   

#23

Maryland 

Maryland is among the pacesetters in college soccer so it is not often that you see the Terps this far down the line in preseason rankings.  Maryland tumbles in the rankings due to the fact they faded down the home stretch last year and enter the 2018 season with more than the usual uncertainties.  Departures include forward Gordon Wild (5g, 2a), midfielder Eryk Williamson (6g, 5a) and Jake Rozhansky (4g, 9a).  Senior forward Sebastian Elney (5g, 2a) looks to be among the returning players who Sasho Cirovski will look to power the attack in 2018. Seniors Amar Sejdic (3g, 4a) and Andrew Samuels are among key returning midfielders. The backline should be very solid with the return of senior Chase Gasper and juniors Donovan Pines and Johannes Bergmann who were starters last year. Redshirt junior Dayne St. Clair who recorded nine shutouts last year returns in goal to anchor the defense.  Maryland traveled to England for nine days in March. Look for that experience to give them a big boost in 2018.  You can bet your bottom dollar that Cirvoski will make the adjustments needed for the Terps to improve their overall performance on both sides of the ball in 2018.  

#24

Coastal Carolina 

The Chanticleers have appeared in eight consecutive NCAA Tournaments.  They struggled in September last year before gelling as a team to go 10-1-1 over their last twelve contests. The Chants topped Mercer and Clemson before losing to Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen.  Coastal Carolina head coach Shaun Docking didn't need a lot of time to ponder how he would replace thirteen seniors off the 2017 team including forward Frantzdy Pierrot (10g, 4a) who was the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. Just how did Docking address the loss of so much talent and experience?  By bringing on board a recruiting class that includes several experienced transfers.  The newcomers will join twelve returning players from the 2017 squad including five with starting expereince. Senior forward Yazeed Matthews (3g, 1), senior midfielder Saif Alhameli (1g, 1a) and senior defender Kervin Fadel (0g, 1a) are among returning players who will keep Coastal Carolina competitive in 2018.  How quickly the team meshes will determine how far the Chanticleers go in 2018.  A difficult schedule that includes UCLA, Georgetown, Maryland and Clemson will help prepare Coastal Carolina for postseason play.  

#25

New Hampshire 

The Wildcats are coming off a banner season in which they were 13-4-5 overall and advanced past Fairfield and Dartmouth in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Indiana 2-1 in the Sweet Sixteen.  New Hampshire faces the challenge of replacing six starters, including forward Robin Schmidt (16g, 11a), defender Willis Griffith (3g, 0a) and goalkeeper Andrew Pesci.  The Wildcats will look to junior Jack Doherty (3g, 5a), senior Chris Arling (4g, 0a) and sophomore Jacob Gould (3g, 2a) for offensive firepower up-top. Sophomore Linus Fallberg (3g, 0a) and juniors Siggi Geirsson (1g, 1a), Antonio Colacci (1g, 4a) and Kyle Brewster (0g, 2a) are among key returning midfielders.  The defense will build around backs senior Otto Sahlen (0g, 2a) and  sophomore Josh Bauer (2g, 3a). Marc Hubbard has added a recruiting class that may help address the loss of several impact players.  No game looms larger than the season opening contest with Virginia in Charlottesville.  

#26

Wisconsin 

The Badgers will enter the 2018 season with the confidence that comes from winning the programs first-ever outright Big Ten Tournament title last year and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.  They also face the dauting task of replacing a formidable and determined 2017 senior class that included forwards Chris Mueller (9g, 20a), Tom Barlow (10g, 5a) and Mark Segbers (5g, 7a), midfielder Mike Catalano (10g, 1a), defender Alex Masbruch and goalkeeper Philipp Schilling. The Badgers will be young, but they will also be well-coached and ready to grind it out in the Big Ten. John Trask will rebuild around junior midfielders Noah Leibold (0g, 1a) and Mitch Guitar (1g, 1a) and defenders senior Isaac Schlenker (1g, 0a) and juniors Mitch Guitar (1g, 0a) and Robin Olofsson (1g, 1a). Several newcomers will likely have the opportunity to contribute immediately.  The chemistry of the 2017 team was unbelievable.  Trask will no doubt go about instilling the same culture in the 2018 squad but that may be realistically unattainable this year. Wisconsin will improve as the season progresses but it is challenging to reload in the highly competitive Big Ten Conference in which learning curves are exploited and the margin for error in every contest is slim. 

#27 

Pacific 

The Tigers took a few hard hits, losing All-American back Tristan Blackmon, midfielder Andres Ochoa and goalkeeper Curtis Goldsmith among others to graduation. Nonetheless, expectations remain high for continued success in WCC play and on the national scene in 2018.  Fifteen players including seven starters are back from the 2017 team that was 13-4-2 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they fell to eventual national champion Stanford in a penalty kick shootout following a 0-0 draw.  Junior forwards Tariq Branche (6g, 0a) and Anthony Orendain (6g, 2a) and seniors midfielder Camden Riley (5g, 2a) and Johnatan Rico-Contreres (1g, 2a) return to power the attack. Seniors Wouter Verstraaten (3g, 0a) and Bob Groenendijk will  anchor the backline.  Sophomore defender Charles Brewah who had a productive freshman season will be in the mix for a greater role in 2018. It speaks well of head coach Ryan Jordan that a berth in the NCAA Tournament is now an expectation at Pacific. . 

#28

UCLA

Forget the fact that the Bruins were 7-10-1 last year and their string of consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament ended at thirty-four.  Overall improvement seems like a given so look for UCLA to bounce back with vigor. Nine starters return supplemented by one of the top recruiting classes in the country.  Sophomore forwards Santiago Herrera (3g, 1a) and Milan Iloski (3g, 2a) now have the benefit of a year of experience under their belts. Junior transfer forward Mohammed Kamara out of Tyler Junior College is among the newcomers who should immediately add pop to the attack up-top. Senior Anderson Asiedu (2g, 2a) returns to set the pace in the midfield. Senior Erik Holt along with redshirt junior Matthew Powell and sophomore Brandon Terwege are among returning defenders. Freshman Justin Garces should be in the hunt for the starting job between the pipes. Last year UCLA was relatively short on experience but long on talent and they never seemed to find their footing as a team. This year they have the experience to go along with the talent. The X-Factor will be the extent to which this group merges their individual talents into a unified team. 

#29

N.C. State 

 

 

This might be a leap for a young team that returned to the NCAA Tournament field last year for the first time since 2009. Regardless, the Wolfpack are well positioned to carry the momentum from last years's 8-6-4 overall record, 3-3-2 mark in ACC play, and berth in the NCAA Tournament into the 2018 season. With eight returning starters and another impressive recruiting class arriving in Raleigh, this is a team that it on the cusp of another breakthrough in 2018.  But for improvment in the win total and movement upward in the ACC hierarchy to occur, the Pack must significantly up its productivity on the offensive side of the ball.  Midfielders Manny Perez (5g, 4a), David Loera (1g, 5a) and Brad Sweeney (0g, 2a), defender David Norris, and goalkeepr Leon Krapf are among five sophomores who were starters last year.  Forwards Clayton Sparks (3g. 0a), Tanner Roberts (4g, 2a) and Ade Taiwo (2g, 4a) and backs Simon Blotko (0g, 3a) and Christoph Schneuwly are among returning seniors who should play key roles.  An early season contest on the road against Akron will provide a lot of informaiton.  Any weaknesses will be exploited in the rugged ACC.        

#30

William and Mary  

The Tribe gelled during the month of October last year going unbeaten in ten contests in route to claiming the CAA Championship.  Chris Norris enters his fifteenth season at William and Mary with a very solid base to work with.  Eight hungry starters are back led by All-American senior forward/midfielder Antonio Bustamante. Bustamante, who has thirty career goals to date, has been an impact player since arriving on campus as a freshman in 2015.  Ditto that for senior forward Ryder Bell (7g, 10a) and senior defender Marcel Berry.  Bell is a playmaker who joins with Bustamante to give William and Mary a very dynamic one-two punch.  Berry has been an All-CAA performer for the past three seasons. Bustamante, Bell, and Berry are all big time players.  Junior midfielder Reeves Trott (5g, 2a) adds another dimension to the attack.  Backs redshirt junior Hristo Bustamante (1g, 3a) and sophomore Sam Golan (1g, 0a) join Berry on the defensive side of the ball.  It will be interesting to see how the Tribe manages the month of September in 2018 with a dance card that includes North Carolina, N.C. State, Maryland and Coastal Carolina.      

#30

Cal State Fullerton

The Titans showed a lot of grit last year when they won the Big West Tournament to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the past four seasons.  George Kuntz waived goodbye to three key senior starters from the 2017 squad but the ingreidients are present to continue the momentum into the 2018 season. Redshirt senior forward Samuel Goni and senior midfielder Ross McPhie (7g, 3a), the 2017 Co-Big West Midfielder of the Year, are back to power the attack.  It's inconceivable that Goni and McPhie won't get the offense rolling. It is a plus to have senior midfielder Robert Coronado who missed the 2017 season due to injury back in the fold. He may prove to be the additional spark CS Fullerton needs. Junior goalkeeper Paul-Andre Guerin, the MVP of the 2017 Big West Conference Tournament, and backs senior Michael Lopez, junior Sam Molz, and sophomore Irving Arvizu return to give the Titans a solid defense. The defense, rich in returning starters, should be very good in 2018.   

Others Receiving Votes:  Old Dominion, Columbia, California, VCU, Virginia Tech, Charlotte, Massachusetts, UNCW, Albany, Creighton, Xavier, Air Force, Denver, Loyola Maryland, High Point, St. Francis Brooklyn