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SMU Begins Play In The ACC In 2024 With Several Big Shoes To Fill On Both Sides Of The Ball.

Mustangs Will Seek To Get BAck On Track After Underachieving In Post Season Play Last Year.

Coach – Kevin Hudson – 10th season
Conference – Atlantic Coast Conference
2023 Record – 14-3-2 overall, 7-0-1 in conference
2023 National Ranking – 10 United Soccer Coaches, 11 College Soccer News
Five Year Win Total
2023 – 14
2022 – 10
2021 – 8
2020 – 5
2019 – 18
2024 Outlook

The transition to the Atlantic Coast Conference from the American Athletic Conference is among the big storylines at SMU heading into the 2024 season. Conference realignment and the uncertainty that currently creates continues to be the elephant in the room in college athletics throughout the country. .

The Mustangs under Kevin Hudson will make the move to the ACC in a season in which they have some very big shoes to fill due to the departure of forward Jelldrik Dallmann (14g, 5a), defender Mads Westergren (1g, 4), and goalkeeper Cole Johnson among others. Dallmann, who ranked seventh in the country last year in goals scored, Westergren, the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Johnson, the AAC Goalkeeper of the Year, were 2023 United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-Americans. They were all difference makers who will not be easy to replace but regardless the cupboard is far from bare. Hudson and his staff will have a solid contingent of returning players upon which to reload.

Senior Bailey Sparks (2g, 5a), the AAC Midfielder of the Year and a United Soccer Coaches All-American, and sophomore midfielder Niv Berkovitz (6g, 3a), the AAC Freshman of the Year and a College Soccer News All-Freshman team selection, are among returning playmakers who should add punch to the attack. Junior forward Fredrik Skilberg (1g.1a) who played in 19 games last year with 15 starts, is among other returning players who will likely be counted upon to add a little shake and bake to the offense up top.

Junior midfielder Alex Salvo (1g, 0a) who was an AAC All-Rookie Team selection last year and sophomores Jaylinn Mitchell (1g, 1a) and Noah Ervin are among returning midfielders who will challenge for a greater role in 2024.

Senior Kyran Chambron Pinho (1g, 3a), an All-East Region Third Team selection and tenacious three-year starter, and senior Lamar Bynum (0g, 1a) a solid starter last year, return to provide a sound nucleus upon which to reload the backline. Graduate Student Cesar Ruvalcaba who transfers in from Division II Cal Poly Pomona where he was a 2022 and 2023 United Soccer Coaches All-American is among the newcomers who should be in the hunt for a starting job in the backline.

The departure of All-American netminder Cole Johnson leaves a crucial void between the pipes and key unanswered question. Juniors Martin Dominguez who appeared in one game last year and Chance Johnson who didn’t see action return in goal. Junior transfer Jordaine Jaeger, the 2023 NEC Goalkeeper of the Year at Saint Francis, is a solid addition who looks to be a strong candidate for the starting job in goal. The obvious unanswered question pertains to his ability to make the transition from the NEC to the rigors of the ACC.

SMU won 14 games last year and secured the AAC Regular Season Title with a 7-0-1 mark in regular season conference play but they left some food on the table in post season play. They were upset by Charlotte 2-1 at home in the AAC Tournament final but were subsequently awarded the number six seed in the NCAA Tournament and looked to be a team with the ability to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. They advanced past Denver 2-1 but were then unexpectedly upset by Oregon State 7-1 at home in the Sweet Sixteen in one of the more improbable outcomes of the 2023 season.

The bottom line is that SMU with a degree of good fortune will again be a difficult opponent to face in 2024. The Mustangs have a winning culture. Just how competitive they will be in 2024 will likely hinge on two factors. The first is how well they navigate the inherent challenges and learning curve associated with a transition year in which they will face a different and very competitive slate of conference opponents. The depth of the ACC which also adds Stanford and California creates a slim margin for error. Any weaknesses are identified and exploited. The second relates to the fact that the departures create somewhat of a new-look roster which creates uncertainties regarding productivity on both sides of the ball that have to be addressed .
2024 Newcomers

SMU has announced the addition of three newcomers so far who are currently enrolled and will participate in spring practices.

Hudson stated, “We are excited to add Cesar Christian, and Jordaine to our roster.” He added, “They bring a wealth of collegiate and international experience. We’ve been impressed with their quality and competitiveness already this spring. We are looking foward to seeing them contribute to our future team success.

Christian Chandler – Midfielder – San Antonio, Texas – San Antonio Lee High School – Chandler played in Germany for two seasons with International Soccer Academy. He also played club with San Antonio FC DA from 2016 through 2019 and Classics Elite ECNL from 2020 through 2021.

Jordaine Jaeger – Goalkeeper – Munich, Germany – Jaeger is a junior transfer from Saint Francis where he was two-year starter. Jaeger was named the 2023 NEC Goalkeeper of the Year and an NCE All-Conference First team selection. He was the 2022 NEC Rookie of the Year. Before that he played for Tuerkguecue Muenchen, FC Ingolstadt 04 and the Bologna FC 1909 Youth Academy.

Cesar Ruvalcaba – Defender – South Gate, California – A graduate student transfer from Cal Poly Pomona where he played from 2019 through 2023. Ruvalcaba was a United Soccer Coaches All-America First Team in 2022 and 2023 and an All-CCAA First Team selection in 2021, 2022 and 2023 and a team captain in 2022 and 2023.

Picture from SMU Athletics

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Posted in 2024 Team Reviews

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