There is much to like about what these teams have accomplished but the Season has just begun.
Louisville – The Cardinals have rocketed upward in the rankings with a perfect 4-0-0 with impressive wins over Tulsa 1-0, Bellarmine 3-0, UNCG 2-0 on the road and in-state rival Kentucky 4-2. The Cardinals have a chance to knock off another ranked opponent when they begin ACC play with a tough match on the road against Syracuse on Friday.
Forwards Gage Guerra (4g, 0a) and Konstantinos Georgallides (2g, 2a) have powered the attack while defenders Gaetano D’Argento, Bryce LeBel, and Mason Tatafu and goalkeeper Alex Sventanoff have anchored a Louisville defense that has posted three clean sheets in four contests.
Delaware – The Blue Hens under second year head coach Tommy McMenemy are off to a 3-0-1 start with wins over Rutgers, Loyola Maryland, and Mount St. Mary’s and a 1-1 tie on the road in CAA play against an always competitive Campbell team.
Six different players have contributed a goal with senior forward Sam Donnellan leading the attack with three goals and one assist. Sophomore goalkeeper Eddie DeMarco has anchored a bend but don’t break defense that has allowed a total of five goals. The Blue Hens return to CAA play when they host William and Mary (1-2-1) on Saturday.
Marquette – The Golden Eagles are off to their best start since the 2012 season with a 4-0-0 record that includes wins over Drake, Purdue Fort Wayne, Detroit Mercy and Harvard. During that time, they have posted three shutouts and have outscored their opponents 13-2 with eight different players contributing a goal.
Marquette hosts UTRGV (2-2-0) on Friday but things get a little tougher after that with a match at home against Wisconsin the following Monday followed by Big East foe Creighton in Omaha on Friday.
Northwestern – The Wildcats are unbeaten through four games for the first time since 2014 with a 2-1 win over St. Thomas, a 1-0 win over NJIT, a 2-1 win over Milwaukee and a 1-1 tie with DePaul in their last contest. Northwestern will seek to continue their winning ways when they travel to face Northern Illinois on Friday.
Senior forward Justin Weiss (2g, 1a) and junior midfielder Collin McCamy (1g, 1a) are among key ingredients on the offensive side of the ball while sophomore defender Nigel Prince and graduate student goalkeeper Jackson Weyman who is a transfer from South Florida are among the stalwarts on the defensive side of the ball.
UCF – The Knights made their presence known on the national scene when they upset Clemson 2-1 on the road in their season opener. They followed that up with a 2-1 win over Stetson and topped NC State 3-1. UCF looked to be on their way to a win over nationally ranked in-state foe FIU when they were up 2-0 but they had to settle for a 2-2 tie when they allowed the Panthers to score twice during the final ten minutes of play.
The Knights (3-0-1) host a Brown University team on Saturday that is coming off a 6-0 thumping at home from Fairfield. UCF then opens their first season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference with a game at home against West Virginia followed by games on the road against Marshall and Kentucky. That three-game stretch will test the mettle of the Knights who are currently ranked as the number eight team in the country by College Soccer News and the number six team by the United Soccer Coaches.
SIUE – The Cougars have impressive wins over Central Arkansas 2-1, Butler 3-1, and Saint Louis 2-0 to open the season with a 3-0-0 record. The win over Saint Louis was the first for SIUE since 1985. SIUE will seek to keep their win streak alive when they travel to face Kansas City on Friday. Cougar head coach Cole Wasserman has done a really good job of making the adjustments that have helped SIUE put in two solid halves of play.
It has been offense by committee so far at SIUE with six different players having contributed a goal. The defense has been anchored by senior center back Will Harris and graduate student goal keeper Sam Gomez. SIUE is beginning its first season as a charter member of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Bryant University – The Bulldogs are off to their best start ever with a perfect 4-0-0 record under new head coach Ruben Resendes who came to Bryant after a successful tenure as the head coach at Division II Franklin Pierce. The Bulldogs have a 1-0 win over Central Connecticut, a 1-0 win over Fairfield, a 2-0 win over Merrimack, and a 4-0 win over Holy Cross.
Junior forward Marc Pitarch Bayot has three goals while senior midfielder Vicente Valor Martinez has one goal and three assists. Senior back Abdel Talabi and senior goalkeeper Antreas Hadjigavriel have anchored a stout Bryant defense that has not allowed a goal in four contests. The Bulldogs travel to New Rochelle, New York to face Iona on Saturday. Bryant will be tested when they begin America East play.
Gardner-Webb – The Running Bulldogs out of the Big South Conference are truly off and running under new head coach Scott Wells. Gardner Webb has a 2-0-1 record that includes wins over Wofford 1-0 at home, South Carolina 2-0 on the road and a recent tie 2-2 tie at home with a James Madison team that came into the contest with a 3-0-0 record and a national ranking. The Running Bulldogs played the last 28 minutes of the contest with JMU with only ten men on the pitch.
Things don’t get any easier for Garner-Webb with a tough contest coming up on Tuesday against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.
West Virginia – The Mountaineers struggled out of the gate last year but not this year. They have roared out to an impressive 4-0-0 start that includes wins over California Baptist 3-0, Bucknell 2-0, Yale 2-0 and American 2-1. West Virginia can pick up two huge wins with a match at home against Portland on Saturday followed by a game on the road against UCF the following Friday. On the other hand, reality could come to town for the Mountaineers in those two contests. It should be interesting.
Marcus Caldeira (5g, 0a) and Yutaro Tsukada (2g, 3a) have carried the lion’s share of the offense for a West Virginia team to date. A very solid Mountaineer defense anchored in goal by senior Jackson Lee has allowed a total of only one goal to date.
UC Irvine –The Anteaters are unbeaten in their first four games for the first time since 2014 and for the first time under head coach Yossi Raz. They have a 1-0 win over UNLV, a scoreless tie with Creighton, a 2-1 win over Omaha and are coming off a solid 3-1 win over Gonzaga.
Junior midfielder Francesco Montanile (1g, 2a) is the catalyst on the offensive side of the ball for the Anteaters. Junior forward Jake Means has two goals while four other players have contributed a single goal. Junior Luke Pruter anchors a UC Irvine defense that will face their biggest challenge of the season to date when they host a Stanford team on Friday that is ranked as the number one team in the country by the United Soccer Coaches and is ranked as the number two team in the nation in the most recent College Soccer News National Poll.
Picture from SIUE Athletics