The only thing consistent about college soccer is it being inconsistent. Week two of college action saw upsets and triumphs; College Soccer Professor breaks it all down.
The roller coaster of college soccer: one day you could be on top of the world, only two days later you could fall out of the Dominant Dozen. This is the story of the UCSB Gauchos. Friday night, the crowd showed up in groves to support the Gauchos even though school was not yet in session. They were there in numbers, 3,925 to be precise. The student section was packed with yellow shirts and colorful insults for the visitors. The Gauchos put on a show to please the rambunctious crowd and national television audience to the tune of a four nil beating given to Rutgers. The offense was clicking on all levels and it appeared this team was too fast and too skilled for any team below the top five to handle.
On Sunday, they came out flat against unranked Loyola Marymount and lost forward David Walker to a gruesome fractured wrist in the first half. The offense looked like a shell of what the crowd had witnessed on Friday. Unable to connect with the forwards, Gauchos were frustrated all over the field by the pestering young LMU side. UCSB suffered their first loss of the season, 2-1, to a generally average team (star forward Rafael Baca excluded). Walker’s loss is more than just his goal scoring abilities, it is his veteran leadership on the field and his decisive runs in the final third that UCSB will be lacking for a few weeks. It is hard to imagine this young UCSB team being able to cope without him.
As for the other action, lets get to the highlights of week two:
Big Men on Campus:
Max Young, Goalkeeper, Freshman, Loyal Marymount: Facing the task of going against one of the best West Coast teams, UCSB, in his first career start, Young had an amazing outing that provided LMU an upset win on the road in the hostile Harder Stadium. Among the eight saves he registered against the Gauchos, there were two kick saves that made him use every inch of his 6’6 225 pound frame to protect his net and leave the crowd silent. The rest of the night, he appeared to be a brick-house that no Gaucho shot could get past. It was not until the last three minutes that UCSB was able to put a number on the scoreboard when Martin Hedevag scored on a scramble in the box, but Young still held on for the win.
Matt Eliason, Forward, Junior, Northwestern: The lone bright spot of the Northwestern season has been the prolific play of their homegrown forward. Through the first four games of the season, he has found the back of the net SEVEN times. This past weekend he had four goals in two games, including the game-winning goal in both games against Oakland and Tulsa. Eliason is doing his best Landon Donovan early season impression; the question is how long can this last?
College Soccer Professor’s Dominant Dozen:
Rankings through Sept. 14
1.) Akron (4-0-0)- Indiana vs. Akron, could there be a better match up for the third week of the season? Akron’s offense will finally be challenged, and the defense might be pushed. The player to watch for Akron is forward Teal Bunbury; he is speedy, strong, and silky on the ball - very dangerous to handle for opposing defenses. Next up: Indiana Sept. 18.
2.) Wake Forest (3-0-1)- Ike Opara’s first goal of the season will have to be his farewell present to the Wake Forest fans as he departs this week for the U-20 World Championship. This will be a major gap for Wake Forest to fill while he is off for the next few weeks. Next up: Virginia Sept. 18.
3.) North Carolina (3-0-1)- No need to vote this year, Michael Farfan is comeback player of the year. In what probably is one of the strangest college careers in the last decade, it is nice to see one of the talented Farfan twins is enjoying a successful, rejuvenated career, with three goals in four games, for the ACC powerhouse. Next up: Duke Sept. 18.
4.) Maryland (2-1-0)- Two cupcakes on the schedule this week (Duquesne and St. Peter’s), with an ACC battle against NC State in the middle. Anything less than nine points will be a disappointment. Forward Jason Herrick has been the focal point of the attack with three goals in three games. Next up: Duquesne Sept. 15.
5.) California (3-1-0)- At what point will U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen realize he should have called in forward Andrew Wiedeman to the U-20 national team? On the flight over when he looks around the plane and only sees three forwards? When he looks at the bench against Germany and thinks, “I have no options”? Golden Bear fans better be adding Rongen to their Christmas card lists for leaving their stud at home. Wiedeman will look to add to his four goal, three assist season tally this Thursday against Bay Area rival San Francisco. Next up: San Francisco Sept. 17.
6.) Creighton (2-0-0)- Only two games in the first two weeks of the season for Creighton. It makes it near impossible to evaluate a team when they play so infrequently. There are no free rides to the top in the Dominant Dozen. Next up: Missouri State Sept. 19.
7.) Indiana (3-1-0)- Indiana are champions of the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament thanks to some late game heroics from Sophomore forward Alec Purdie in a win over a pesky New Mexico side and a comfortable victory over Seattle on Sunday. The defense is going to have to be watertight if they want to take any result from Akron on Friday. Next up: Akron Sept. 18.
8.) Dartmouth (3-0-1)- California, here they come. Midfielder Daniel Keat will look to continue his hot streak -- four goals in four games -- in sunny San Diego this weekend. Dartmouth drew against UCONN and beat Rhode Island over the weekend. Next up: San Diego Sept. 18.
9.) Harvard (4-0-0)- They have Andre Akpan. You do not. That presents the major problem for anyone facing Harvard this season. Wins over Boston College and Boston University are impressive; a more challenging schedule would have this team higher up the rankings. Next up: Fairfield Sept. 19.
10.) UCLA (2-1-0)- Time to prove that they can survive without midfielder Michael Stephens and goalkeeper Brian Perk, as both will be with the U-20s for a few weeks. Freshman Chandler Hoffman netted two goals in a four nil win against UC Davis last week. He will be asked to shoulder some of the load while the two stars are away. Next up: CSU Fullerton Sept. 17.
11.) Louisville (3-0-1)- Their offense is better than it showed on Sunday. That, combined with UIC actually turning into a decent team, made the draw an acceptable result to move Louisville up into the rankings this week. Next up: West Virginia Sept. 18.
12.) Boston University (3-1-1)- HUGE win over St. John’s this week. Let that be a lesson to teams, if you want national recognition, knock off a top team and play a challenging schedule. Now it is time for put up or shut up against in-state rival Boston College. Next up: Boston College Sept. 18.
National Television Game Of The Week:
Boston College at Boston University. Friday Sept. 18. 8:00 PM (EST) FSC.
Boston College comes into this game with a roster filled with inexperience and potential. Boston University comes in with confidence and a chance to showcase their merits to a large television audience. Boston University forward Aaron O’Neal is the focal point of the attack, so look for him to give the young Boston College back-line trouble all game long.
J.R. Eskilson writes a weekly NCAA column on Tuesday for Goal.com. Follow the College Soccer Professor at twitter.com/NCAAsoccer
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