The decision of 2012 Hermann Trophy winner Patrick Mullins who scored twenty-two goals and contributed ten assists last year to return for his senior season at the University of Maryland means the Terps will be among the favorites to claim the 2013 National Championship.
Sophomore Schillo Tshuma (10g, 2a), senior Sunny Jane (2g, 4a) and sophomore Christiano Francois (5g, 4a) are among other returning forwards who will give Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski what is sure to be a high powered multi-dimensional offense.
The decision of fifth year senior midfielder Chris Ritter to return to Northwestern significantly improves the Wildcats chances of earning another Big Ten title.
Ritter was named the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He also was a difference maker on the offensive side of the ball last year scoring five goals and contributing six assists. Northwestern advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last year topping Western Illinois and Marquette before losing to Louisville.
The decision of Indiana's sophomore forward Eriq Zavaleta to forgo his final two years of collegiate eligibility created a huge void in the IU offense. In 2012 Zavaleta netted a total of eighteen goals. He was a consensus All-American, was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and led the Hoosiers to the National Championship.
The addition of junior Dylan Mares who transfers in from the University of Louisville should help the Hoosiers fill the offensive void. Mares scored eight goals and contributed four assists in 2010 and was named the Big East Rookie of the Year. He sat out the 2011 season with a medical redshirt due to a knee injury but came back strong in 2012 with a seven goal and four assist effort.
Bringing on board a talented recruiting classes at UCLA is the norm but the fact that Bruin head coach Jorge Salcedo will welcome a group of newcomers to Westwood in 2013 that includes five players ranked by College Soccer News as among the top twenty-five recruits in the class of 2013 is super significant.
The class includes forward Paul Arriola who is rated by CSN as the number one recruit in the nation. Arriola's resume includes being named the 2012 NSCAA Youth Boys Player of the Year. Sophomore Jordan Vale who transfers to UCLA after a stellar rookie season at Syracuse is among other members of a class that is likely to win a National Championship before their tenure at UCLA is over.
The Fab Five? A banner University of Michigan 2013 recruiting class that includes five freshmen rated by College Soccer News as among the top one hundred recruits in the nation bodes well for the future success of the program under the direction of second year head coach Chaka Daley.
Last year the Wolverines earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tourney and topped Niagara 3-1 in the opening round of play before losing to Akron 2-1 in the second round to finish with an 11-10-1 overall record.
The move of Loyola University Maryland from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to the Patriot League in 2013 will add another dimension to an always exciting and extremely competitive Patriot League race.
The Greyhounds feature the dynamic trio of junior forward Connor Thompson (7g, 6a) who was a 2012 All-MAAC First Team selection, sophomore forward Larry Ndjock (13g, 3a) who was the 2012 MAAC Rookie of the Year and an All-MAAC First Team selection, and senior forward Stephen Dooley (6g, 5a) who was an All-MAAC Second Team selection. They combine to give Loyola a very potent and explosive offense that can be very difficult to contain. Senior Thurman Van Riper returns in goal to anchor the defense.
Loyola has a winning tradition and appears to be gaining momentum. Under head coach Mark Mettrick, who will enter his fourteenth season at the helm of the program in 2013, the Greyhounds won eight regular season MAAC titles and four MAAC Tournament titles.
The healthy return of senior forward Achille Campion (6g, 1a) and senior center back Peter Schmetz who missed a significant portion of the 2012 season should be a big boost for UC Santa Barbara heading into the 2013 season. The Gauchos were noticeably absent from both the Big West Conference and NCAA Tournaments last year.
Sophomore midfielder Ema Boateng (4g, 4a), senior defensive midfielder Fifi Baiden, senior center back Daniel Welsh and goalkeeper sophomore Austin Mansker are among other reasons why the outcome should be significantly better for UC Santa Barbara in 2013.
The decision of All-American forward Steve Neumann (10g, 13a) to return to Georgetown for his senior season rather than to enter the professional ranks is huge for the Hoyas who must replace midfielders Ian Christianson (2g, 2a), Andy Reimer (9g, 2a) and John Snyder and defenders Jimmy Nealis (0g, 6a) and Tommy Muller (1g, 1a) who have graduated.
Neumann and sophomore forward Brandon Allen (16g, 2a) will give the Hoyas a dangerous and proven goal scoring duo up-top. In addition, Georgetown mentor Brian Wiese will welcome a recruiting class that includes highly regarded freshmen forwards Brett Campbell and Alex Muyl who could contribute immediately.
When it comes to recruiting the old saying that the rich get richer is oftern true. A very talented but young Virginia team has added a ten member recruiting class that includes forward Nicko Corriveau and midfielder Jordan Allen who are ranked by College Soccer News as the number two and three top recruits in the high school class of 2013.
The Cavaliers return ten starters from a 2012 team that included seven freshmen who started at least ten contests and four sophomores that started at least fifteen contests. The addition of sophomore transfer Jeff Gal who was rock solid in goal last year for the Creighton Bluejays makes a strong recruiting class even stronger.
The decision of Cornell's 2012 All-American forward Daniel Haber to forgo his senior season to sign a professional contract with Maccabi Haifa FC in Israel took a big bite out of the Big Red offense in 2013.
Haber played a key role in helping Cornell secure its first outright Ivy League title since 1977 and its first NCAA tournament berth since the 1996 campaign. He became the first Big Red team member to be named the Ivy League Player of the Year in men's soccer . Haber put the rock in the back of the net a total of eighteen times last year and led the country in goals per game (1.06).
Cornell also has some big shoes to fill due to the graduation of 2012 All-Ivy First Team member Rick Pflasterer who was a four year starter in goal, All-Ivy First Team forward Tyler Regan (4g, 6a) and center midfielder Nico Nissl who was an All-Ivy Second Team selection.
On the plus side of the ledger the Big Red return senior defender Patrick Slogic a two-time All-Ivy First Team selection, senior left back Jake Rinow, and senior defensive mid Ben Williams.