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Men’s College Soccer – A Few Observations And Thoughts Heading Into The Sixth Weekend Of Play.

It is The Time Of The Year When Teams Begin To Settle In. There ARe No Easy Games. The Difference Between A Win And A Loss Can Be very Thin.

There are always a few teams who struggle early in the season in terms of wins and losses and then turn things around. The likely candidates at this point include the following:

Hofstra – The Pride opened the season with losses in two out of their first three contests but have rebounded to go 4-0-1 in their last five matches to improve to 5-2-0. Eliot Goldthorp (4g, 3a) and Ryan Carmichael (4g, 2a) have powered the attack while Wessel Speel has anchored a defense that has only allowed three goals in Hofstra’s last five games.

New Hampshire – The Wildcats began the 2022 season with back-to-back losses but are 5-1-0 in their last six matches to improve to 5-3-0.  New Hampshire looks to have jelled as a team with a balanced attack and a defense that has only allowed three goals in their last six games.

Saint Louis – A Billiken team that entered the 2022 season with a lot of voids to fill due to departures lost three of their first four contests during which time a porous defense allowed a total of ten goals.  They appear to have rallied as a team with a 3-0-1 mark in their last four matches during which time they have tightened things up on the defensive side of the ball and only allowed a total of three goals. Saint Louis is 4-3-1 with a 1-0-1 mark in Atlantic 10 play.

Nothing is more important to the success of a team that stout play in goal. Several of the netminders who have excelled to date are listed below.

Duke – 6-0-2 – Eliot Hamill – 0.38 goals against average

Syracuse – 7-1-1 – Russell Shealy – 0.38 goals against average

Stanford – 6-0-3 – Matt Frank – 0.38 goals against average

Duquesne – 6-1-2 – Domenic Nascimben – 0.44 goals against average

Wake Forest – 9-0-0 – Trace Alphin – 0.63 goals against average                                              

Washington – 7-0-1 – Sam Fowler – 0.63 goals against average  

Dayton – 7-0-1 – Dario Caetano – 0.63 goals against average

Marshall – 5-1-1 – Oliver Semmle – 0.72 goals against average  

The rule change eliminating overtime during regular season play has (as expected) increased the number of ties and likely impacted the tempo of play in the last ten minutes of regulation. The impact this will have on the RPI remains to be seen.  

The top ten teams in the College Soccer News Poll and the United Soccer Coaches Poll have a combined 15 ties.

Four teams currently ranked in the College Soccer News Top 30 Poll – Stanford, Portland, Ohio State, and Xavier have three draws to date.

Teams that have exceeded expectations so far

Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons are always competitive but who would have thought they would be 9-0-0 at this point.

Syracuse – The Orange are off to their best start since the 2016 season. They are 7-1-1 to date with signature wins over Penn State, Notre Dame, and Clemson. Syracuse was 8-8-2 in 2021.   

Ohio State – 5-1-3 – The Buckeyes are off to their best start in many seasons. They were 6-9-1 last year.

Xavier – 6-0-3 – The Musketeers nine-match unbeaten streak is the program’s longest unbeaten streak to start a season since 2012.

Dayton – 7-0-1 – The Flyers were 6-9-3 during the 2021 season.

Duquesne – 6-1-2 – The Dukes are coming off a 1-0 loss to Akron on Wednesday night. Nonetheless they set a new program record for the number of games without a loss to open the season when they began the 2022 season with a 6-0-2 record.   

Penn – 5-1-1 – The Quakers have won four straight games for the first time since 2010. Penn will open Ivy League play with a contest on the road with a Yale team that is also off to a good start with a 4-0-3 record that includes a 1-1 draw in their last match against nationally ranked Duke.

The season is still young so the jury is still out on just how good a lot of teams really. The teams below are among those teams.

Stanford – The Cardinal are undefeated with a 5-0-3 record. They have played well which is a good sign but nonetheless questions exist in regard to their ability to come up with the big play needed on the offensive side of the ball to close out games. The Cardinal looked good in a 2-1 win over UCSB in which they came from a goal down to secure the win. Stanford hosts a California team on Thursday that has given them problems at times it the past.

Charlotte -7-1-0 – There is a lot to like about what the 49ers have accomplished. They began the season with seven consecutive wins during which time they scored a total of 31 goals while allowing only 4. However a 2-0 loss to Tulsa on the road last Sunday raises concerns in regard to how well Charlotte will fare as the season progresses against top tier opponents.

Denver – 5-2-2 – A veteran Denver team began the season with an impressive 4-0-1 record, but they are 1-2-1 in their last four games. Can they turn things around?

Indiana – 4-2-2 – No doubt, the Hoosiers are good but does this team team have that something special on the offensive side of the ball that they need to win the big games.  

Akron – 5-2-2 – The Zips have played well against a difficult slate of early season opponents but they have allowed a lot of goals in several of their matches. Accordingly, you have to question whether this team can settle into a balance that will enable them to play solid team defense and still apply pressure on the offensive side of the ball against the more competitive opponents as the season progresses.

FIU – 5-3-0 – The Panthers have been the bouncing ball in the rankings so far this year with several good wins but a 5-3 loss to Akron, a 3-0 loss to New Hampshire and a 6-4 loss to SMU raises questions about their play on the defensive side of the ball. Can FIU apply pressure and push numbers forward without being vulnerable on defense?

North Carolina – 4-2-2 – The Tar Heels have only allowed a total of 5 goals in eight games which is a definite positive. However they have also only scored a total of seven goals. The Tar Heels are coming off a nice 1-0 win over Notre Dame in ACC play. Their play on the defensive side of the ball will likely keep them in every game but their lack of big play ability on the offensive side of the ball could be hazardous to their win-loss record as they continue with ACC play.

Keep an Eye on these teams

Vermont – The Catamounts are 7-1-1 with a 1-0-0 mark in America East play. Thy have won six straight. They travel to face UMass Lowell on Saturday.

Memphis – The Tigers are flying under the radar. They are 5-1-2 overall with a 2-0-0 mark in AAC play with wins over SMU and UCF. They have AAC contests coming up with FIU on Saturday followed by Charlotte at home.

Western Michigan – The Broncos are off to a 7-1-0 start with a 2-0-0 mark in MAC play. They host Chicago State on Sunday.

Belmont – The Bruins are 5-1-2 with a 2-0-0 mark in MVC play that includes wins over Bradley and SIU. They host UIC in an MVC matchup on Saturday.

Massachusetts – The Minutemen are off to a 5-0-4 start with a 0-0-2 mark in Atlantic 10 play. They travel to face Fordham in an A-10 contest on Saturday.

Conference Play – This is the time of the season when head to head competition between teams in the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big East, and Big Ten (among others) begins to impact the win-loss record of fellow conference members.

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