CSN Preseason Top 30 Polls

College Soccer News 2019 Preseason National Poll

Preseason polls are simply a starting point. CSN will update its Top 30 Poll weekly once regular season play begins. A final season ending poll will be issued at the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament. There are a lot of unknowns at this point. You can count on a significant difference between preseason and season ending polls because there are always teams that over and under achieve. 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 must be filled, the projected impact of recruting classes, and important intagibles like leadership, and team chemistry.  

#1

Wake Forest

The talent at Wake Forest runs very deep. The Deacons return a solid necleus from the 2018 squad that was 18-3-0 overall supplemented by a top-notch recruiting class. Junior Machop Chol (5g, 7a) is among returning forwards. All-American Bruno Lapa (10g, 9a) will power a talented midfield that includes seniors Joey Dezart (1g, 2a) and Alistair Johnston (3g, 5a), junior Justin McMaster (6g, 4a) and sophomores Aristotle Zarris  (5g, 5a) and Isaiah Parente (1g, 8a). Senior Eddie Folds (0g, 2a) and  junior Michael DeShields (1g, 0a) return in the back. Highly regarded veteran netminder Andreu Cases Mundet will anchor the defense. 

#2

Kentucky

Ready to take another step forward in 2019. Kentucky has as much talent as any team in the country. Last year a young Wildcat squad that included four freshmen in the starting lineup was 19-2-1 overall.  Sophomore forward Jason Reyes (8g, 4a) and junior midfielder Kalil ElMedkhar (11g, 10a), power the attack. Junior back Aime Mabika (2g, 1a) and junior goalkeeper Enrique Facusse anchor the defense. 

#3

Akron

Akron reloads as effectively as any team in the country. Junior David Egbo (13g, 5a) is a big-time finisher up-top who will continue to get better. The midfield led by Skye Harter (2g, 7a) is solid and the backline lthat includes sophomores Carlo Ritaccio, Marco Milanese and Pol Hernandez and junior Daniel Strachan is deep and talented. Five current sophomores were starters last year. A challenging early season schedule will test the grit of the Zips.    

#4

Maryland

A case could be made that the defending national champions should be the number one ranked team. While it is always wise to Fear the Turtle, the fact is they will enter the season without six very experienced key starters. Chances are pretty good that the Terps will experience some sort of  learning curve. Sophomore William James Herve provides firepower up-top. Senior Eli Crognale and junior Matt Di Rosa return in the midfield. Senior Johannes Bergmann and junior Ben Di Rosa provide a solid necleus upon which to build in the back but some retooling is necessary on the defensive side of the ball. The ability of the newcomers to contribute will be a key.      

#5

Stanford

Almost everyone is back in addition to a highly regarded recruting class. Sophomore Zach Ryan (10g, 3a) adds punch to the attack up-top but the Cardinal need another goal scorer to emerge to add balance. A midfield that includes seniors Derek Waldeck (1g, 6a) and Jared Gilbey (0g, 2a) and juniors Logan Panchot (1g, 2a) and Charlie Wehan (2g, 5a) will be talented and deep. Redshirt senior center back Tanner Beason (8g, 5a) anchors the defense along with sophomore netminder Andrew Thomas. Season opening contests on the road against Penn State and Akron should be revealing.     

#6

Saint Mary's

 

So what will the Gaels do for an encore in 2019?  Saint Mary's made noise last year and they aim to do so again in 2019. The sky is the limit for this group. Ten starters return including senior forwards Jake Rudel (13g, 5a) and Anders Engebretsen (9g, 6a), senior midfielder Jakub Svehlik (4g, 4a), junior defender Filippo Zattarin (2g, 5a) and senior goalkeeper Remi Prieur who anchored a defense that posted fourteen shutouts last year.  The Gaels are coming off an 18-0-2 season in which they scored fifty goals and only allowed eight.  

#7

North Carolina

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina. The Tar Heels will return to a new state-of the-art on campus Fetzer Field in 2019 after two seasons of playing their home games elsewhere. UNC will again have an up-tempo and multi-dimensional attack with senior Jelani Pieters (2g, 4a) and junior Alex Rose (2g, 0a) among those providing punch to the offense up-top. The midfield led by seniors Mauricio Pineda (5g, 4a) and Jack Skahan (7g, 3a) and junior Giovanni Montesdeoca (8g, 4a) will be among the best in the country.  Some retooling is required on the defensive side of the ball due to departures. Junior Mark Salas is among a very capable group of returning backs. Juniors Alec Smir and Drew Romig return in goal.      

#8

Duke 

Almost everyone returns for a program that has a ton of momentum. Senior Daniel Proch (11g, 4a) is the go-to guy in the attack. Senior Brandon Williamson is a  team leader and the catalyst in the midfield. Junior Matthias Frick and sophomore center back Aedan Stanley anchor the backline while junior Will Pulisic, a starter for the past two seasons, gives Duke an experienced and composed presence between the pipes. Defender Sergi Nus is a huge addition. 

#9

Indiana

Some might think this pick low while others might consider it ambitious for a team that is losing ten starters. The Hoosiers are always in the mix for a national title and no doubt will be very competitive in 2019. They could surprise but no matter how you spin it, this is a team that is reloading. Players who scored 38 of the 47 goals last year have departed. The cupboad is never bare at IU and Todd Yeagley will welcome one of the best recruiting classes in the country but a learning curve is likely.  Defender Jack Maher is the lone returning starter.  

#10

Michigan State

The Spartans have some reloading to do up-top to replace Ryan Sierakowski and DeJuan Jones and a void to fill on the defensive side of the ball due to the departure of goalkeeper Jimmy Hague. Regardless, a big drop-off is not likely. The midfield looks to be a team strength with seniors Giuseppe Barone (3g, 10a) and Michael Pimlott (0g, 3a) and sophomore Jack Beck (3g, 3a) returning. Redshirt junior Patrick Nielsen (3g, 2a) and senior Michael Wetungu (2g, 0a) provide a solid necleus upon which to build the backline.   

#11

James Madison

Tough and talented and on a roll. Paul Zazenski's first season as the JMU head coach couldn't have gone much better. A veteran James Madison team is coming off a banner 2018 season in which they were 15-5-3 and advanced to the Elite Eight. Redshirt senior Carson Jeffris (8g, 4a) returns up-top. The midfield powered by seniors Manuel Ferriol (9g, 5a), Fernando Casero (1g, 1a) and Niclas Mohr (1g, 4a) looks solid. Senior Bradon Clegg and junior Tom Judge return in the back. Redshirt junior T.J. Bush who has been the starter for the past two seasons is a prime timer in goal.  

#12

Georgetown

Primed for another strong run at the Big East title and national standing. The Hoyas return an experienced group that includes eight starters. Senior Achara (7g, 1a) and junior Derek Dobson (9g, 1a) are a dangerous duo up-top. Senior Riley Strassner (3g, 3a) adds yet another dimension. Junior Jacob Montes (0g, 3a), graduate student Ethan Lochner (3g, 4a) and sophomore Sean Zawadzki (0g, 1a) are among experienced midfielders. Senior Dylan Nealis (2g, 7a) and junior Sean O'Hearn (0g, 1a) will anchor the defense along with sophomore goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis who now has the benefit of a year of starting experience under his belt.    

#13

Virginia 

Defense was the calling card for a young Virginia team that allowed only twelve goals last year. The Cavalier defense should remain strong and the offense should get a boost from the experience sophomore forwards Daryl Dike (5g, 1a), Cabrel Happi Kamseu (5g, 1a) and Daniel Steedman (2g, 0a) have gained. Junior forward Nathan Crofts (4g, 6a) and junior midfielder Joe Bell (1g, 5a) are among other key contributors. Backs senior Robin Afamefuna and junior Henry Kessler return to anchor the defense along with junior netminder Colin Shutler who had a 0.70 goals against average last year.  

#14

Notre Dame

A little offense could take the Irish a long way. Notre Dame was 11-7-2 last year and advanced to the Elite Eight under first year head coach Chad Riley. Lockdown defense propelled the Irish down the homestretch. Graduate student Felicien Dumas, senior Senan Farrelly, sophomore defensive midfielder Mohamed Omar, and senior goalkeeper Duncan Turnbull will seek to build on that in 2019. Offensive firepower is an unanswered question and therefore potential problem. Graduate student Ian Aschieris (5g, 1a) and sophomore Jack Lynn (3g, 3a) are among those who could solve it.  

#15

Louisville

The transition from Ken Lolla to John Michael Hayden should be a smooth one. Playmaking ability exists on both sides of the ball.  Junior transfer forward Emil Everoth who scored eleven goals last year at UNCW provides an immediate boost to the Louisville attack. Senior Cherif Dieye (5g, 0a) adds punch to what looks to be a very talented and deep midfield. Seniors Cody Cochran and Louka Masset, junior Connor Brazil and sophomore William Portman are among experienced defenders. Junior Jake Gelnovatch gives the Cardinals a soccer savvy and talented presence in goal. 

#16

Michigan

The Wolverines appear primed for another productive season in 2019 with an attack powered up-top by senior All-American Jack Hallahan (8g, 8a) and junior Umar Farouk Osman (9g, 4a) among others. Junior Marc Ybarra (3g, 4a) returns to set the pace in a midfield that has a crucial void to fill due to the graduation of Ivo Cerda (2g, 2a) and Robbie Mertz (2g, 4a). Junior center back Jackson Ragen (2g, 1a) and junior Austin Swiech (1g, 2a) provide a necleus upon which to reload the backline. 

#17

Denver

The Pioneers have some big shoes to fill  and a very unforgiving schedule that could depress their win total. On the plus side this is a program that has a winning culture and has displayed a ton of grit at times. The Pioneers will likely lean heavily on transfers Preston Judd, Danny Barlow, and Josh Drack to power the attack up-top and fill the void that exists due to the graduation of foward Andre Shinyashiki (28g, 4a). Holding midfielder Jacob Stensson (0g, 8a) and defensive midfielder Destan Norman (0g, 3a) are part of a Pioneer midfield that will be solid. Center back Callum Stretch returns to anchor the defense along with redshirt junior goalkeeper Will Palmquist who was the 2018 Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year.  

#18

UCF

The Knights gained a lot of respect last year with a productive 13-3-3 overall record and 5-1-1 mark in American Athletic Conferene play.  Forward Cal Jennings (20g, 5a), the 2018 AAC Player of the Year, Louis Perez (3g, 5a), the 2018 AAC Midfielder of the Year, and Yannik Oetti, the 2018 AAC Goalkeeper of the Year are all slated to return. Junior midfielder Yoni Sorokin (4g, 5a) and junior forward Hattabiou Barry (3g, 4a) are among those who should add balance to the attack.  A lot of underclassmen including sophomore backs Yanis Leerman and Andres Hernandez Betancur saw  action last year.  The level of improvement the younger players gain from a year of experience will have an impact on UCF's ceiling in 2019.   

#19

Virginia Tech

The Hokies never seem to run out of fuel. Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year but instead Mike Brizendine fielded a team that was 11-7-3 overall and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Brizendine will head into the 2019 season with a very talented and experienced group to work with including ten starters. Forwards Kristo Strickler (10g, 4a) and Nico Quashie (6g, 2a) return to power the attack. James Kasak (1g, 7a) is the catalyst in the midfield. Will Mejia returns in the back along with goalkeeper Mathijs Swanevedl. 

#20

West Virginia

West Virginia appears primed to build on an impressive 2018 season during which they were 14-7-0, won the regular season MAC title, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Replacing the playmaking ability of All-American midfielder Joey Piatczyc (8g, 10a) and his  thirty-five career assists is a priority. The good news is that Marlon LeBlanc will have plenty of returning talent to work with including senior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino (6g, 1a), junior netminder Steven Tekesky and senior backs Albert Andres-Llop (1g, 8a), Ryan Kellogg (4g, 2a) and Pascal Derwaritsch (6g, 2a).  Sophomore transfer midfielder Tony Pineda should add an additional dimension to the offense.  

#21

Oregon State

Good things are happening at Oregon State. This is a program that is out of the shadows and making its presence known in the Pac-12 and on the national scene. The Beavers were 11-6-3 last year under first year head coach Terry Boss with a 6-3-1 mark and second place finish in Pac-12 play. The offensive punch provided by forward Don Tchilao (7g, 9a) will be missed but the potential for an even more explosive offense exists if sophomores Sofiane Djeffal (5g, 7a) and Gloire Amanda (8g, 2a) get the bounce in performance that often accompanies a year of experience. NIne starters return including sophomore netminder Adrian Fernandez, sophomore midfielder Carlos Moliner (1g, 1a) and sophomore defenders Alex Cover and Kolade Salaudeen. Senior back Eric Diaz (3g, 3a), junior back Joe Hafferty and junior midfielder Joel Walker (2g, 1a) are among the upperclassmen who will play key roles.  

#22

SMU

If there was a year that SMU was going to stumble it was 2018 when they had to replace a large senior class that included the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, Midfielder of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year. Instead they improved as the season progressed and finished with a 10-5-3 record and berth in the NCAA Tourney. That bodes well for the 2019 season in which nine starters return including senior forwards Akean Shackleford (6g, 0a) and Garrett McLaughlin (3g, 2a), sophomore midfielders Knut Ahlander (0g, 2a) and Lane Warrington, defenders senior Philip Ponder (4g, 0a) and junior Talen Maples, and redshirt junior goalkeeper Grant Makela. Transfers forward Nick Taylor and back Brandon Terwege are a plus.   

#23

Charlotte

Charlotte will be very good in 2019. This is a team for which a handful of plays could have changed the outcome of their five losses last year. Sophomores Preston Popp (5g, 1a) and Maclean Holbrook (3g, 3a) are among those who may be called upon to fill the gap in the attack that exists due to loss of Daniel Bruce and Tommy Madden. Senior center midfielder Teddy Chaouche (1g, 10a) is a playmaker who makes good things happen. Juniors Joe Brito (3g, 6a) and John Ranshaw (2g, 2a) are among other returning linkmen. The backline looks to be a team strength with  sophomore Delasi Batse, redshirt junior Patrick Hogan (5g, 0a), junior Luke Johnson, senior Noah Seach and sophomore Ethan Sawdon returning.  Redshirt senior Elliot Panicco, a three-year starter, is a rock solid presence in goal.      

#24

Portland

The decision of forward Benji Michel (11g, 2a) to enter the professional ranks took a bite out of Portland's attack which Nick Carlin-Voigt must address. However, the talent returning on both sides of the ball and the addition of several transfers who should contribute immediately gives Portland the ingredients for another successful season. Sophomore Alejandro Pereira (3g, 2a) is among returning forwards who will provide offensive punch. Seniors Rey Ortiz (3g, 3a) and Gio Magana-Rivera (2g, 5a) and sophomore Jake Arteaga (3g, 0a) are part of what should be a productive midfield. Seniors Esteban Calvo and Francesco Tiozzo provide a solid foundation in the back.  Transfers Josh Lagudah who was the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference Goalkeeper of the Year, defender Michael Barrow, and midfielder Yusuf Cueceoglu will likely contribute immediately.  

#25

N.C. State

Poised for something big. The Pack is on the rise. North Carolina State earned consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and 2018 for the first time since 1992 with a lot of underclassmen in key roles. This is the third year in a row that George Kiefer has added a highly regarded recruiting class which bodes well for the continued success of the program. Kiefer's first recruiting class (2017) now has the advantage of two years of playing together. Nine starters return from the 2018 team including junior foward David Loera (3g, 7a) and senior midfielder Gabriel Machado (6g, 3a). Juniors Brad Sweeney (5g, 2a) and David Norris (1g, 0a) and sophomore Pepe Garcia (0g, 1a) return in the back along with junior goalkeeper Leon Krapf who has two years of starting experience under his belt. 

#26

Connecticut

The additioin of transfer forward Jordan Hall who was an All-Big Ten First Team selection last year should help ease the pain of the loss of forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam who powered UConn's offense for the past four seasons. Transfers Ziyad Fekri and Jake Dengier should help address the gaps that exist on the defensive side of the ball. Redshirt senior  Dayonn Harris (5g, 7a) and sophomore Ibrahima Diop (4g, 1a) return to add punch to the offense. Sophomore Felix Metzler, the 2018 AAC Rookie of the Year, and junior Robin Lapert are among key returning defenders. The Huskies allowed  thirty goals last year. Improvement is needed in that crucial statistic but not at the expense of the attack. 

#27

UC Irvine

Optimism abounds at UCI as Yossi Raz enters his third season at the helm of a program that is coming off an 11-6-4 season and an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Forward Ivan Canales (10g, 5a) and midfielder Daniel Crisostomo (3g, 3a) are among the departures that create  big shoes to fill. Senior Jose Ortiz (8g, 3a),  junior Alvaro Quezada (5g, 6a), redshirt junior Christian Gutierrez (3g, 0a) and junior Lawrence Yamaguchi (1g, 2a) are among returning players who Raz will likely look to for offensive firepower. Senior defensive midfielder Victor Falck (0g, 2a) and backs Michael Orozco (1g, 1a) and Jalani Ambrose (1g, 3a) should play key roles on the defensive side of the ball. Graduate student Ford Parker, a transfer from New Mexico, looks to be in contention for the starting job in goal. Successfully merging the new and the old is a critical success factor.     

#28

Washington

The Huskies return considerable talent at every position along with a promising recruiting class but they will be without  several multi-year starters. Washington was a healthy 12-7-1 last year with a 6-4-0 mark in Pac-12 play. They played well enough to secure a berth in the NCAA Tourney but a lack of big play ability in clutch situations kept them from getting to the next level. Resolve that and the ceiling rises. Junior Blake Bodily (2g, 4a), sophomores Dylan Teves (5g, 2a) and Gio Miglietti, redshirt senior Joey Parish (3g, 3a) and senior Jaret Townsend (1g, 3a) could provide offensive punch. Senior John Magnus provides stability in the midfield. A solid neuleus returns in the back along with redshirt junior goalkeeper Bryce Logan who started six matches last year.  

#29

Colgate 

Colgate is always in the hunt.  A balanced team effort and a solid work ethic are among the factors that have enabled the  Raiders to claim the Patriot League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the past three years. The primary challenge facing Colgate heading into the 2019 season is replacing the offensive firepower that was provided by the 2018 seniors. Sophomores Edward Bass (1g, 0a) and Ryan Krueger (2g, 1a) are among returning forwards. Junior Chris Depetro,  (0g, 1a), sophomore Kian Alberto (1g, 5a), and senior Kentaro Morrison (2g, 2a) return in the midfield. Senior Christian Clarke (0g, 2a), and sophomores Baraka Kiingi and Will Stroud are among a solid necleus of returning backs. Senior Jacob Harris, a talented three-year starter, returns in goal. Season opening contests on the road against Portland and Oregon State will be difficult. 

#30

New Hampshire

The Wildcats are coming off a season in which they were 12-4-2 overall, won their first-ever America East Tournament title, and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.  Senior forward Jack Doherty (3g, 4a) will add firepower to the attack up-top. Senior Antonio Colacci (5g, 3a), graduate student Kyle Brewster (2g, 0a), junior Linus Fallberg (4g, 3a) and sophomore Johnny Wolf (0g, 2a) are among returning midfielders.  Senior All-American back Josh Bauer (4g, 2a) returns to anchor the defense. The recruiting class includes several players with experience who could help fill the voids that must be addressed.  

Others Receiving Votes:  Syracuse, Air Force, Wisconsin, Clemson, Saint Louis, Creighton, Rhode Island, UNCW, Furman, UCLA, Central Arkansas, Princeton, Lipscomb, Grand Canyon, Coastal Carolina, Pacific, Wright State, Dartmouth, Seattle, Utah Valley, Georgia State