Zips and Cardinals make statement in opening weekend victories, while others struggle out of the gate.Big crowds in Louisville, Akron, and College Park welcomed in the 2011 season in rowdy college fashion over the weekend. The heavyweights took care of business with opening day victories, but there were some upsets and new introductions to the top 25.
Reminder: Goal.com’s Top 25 will be released every Tuesday for the rest of the regular season.
Goal.com Top 25 (W-L-D):
1. Akron 1-0-0. The Zips cruised to 5-0 victory in their opener against Cleveland State on Saturday in front of 5,241 loyal fans. Sophomore Darren Mattocks led the way with two goals in the first half. Next up: Cal State Fullerton (@Cal State Northridge), September 1. PR: 1
2. Louisville 1-0-0. Forward Colin Rolfe and the rest of the Cardinals were not overwhelming, but they were efficient in the victory over UCLA. The loss of Dylan Mares, who tore his ACL in the offseason, will hinder the team, but provide opportunities for new players to step in like freshman Isaiah Trejo, who showed flashes of brilliance in a new attacking role. Next up: @ Wake Forest, September 2. PR: 4
3. UNC 1-0-0. Carlos Somoano’s debut went according to plan with a convincing 3-1 victory over a decent UNC-Wilmington side. Billy Schuler, back after losing last season to an injury, notched the game-winner. The opening victory was a good start, but Somoano’s real test comes on Sunday when the Cardinals come to town. Next up: Oregon State, September 2. PR: 3
4. Creighton 1-0-0. Elmar Bolowich wins soccer games. Fans may not love his style of play, but the coach’s tactics get results. The Bluejays scraped by the Pioneers of Denver on Saturday in a tightly contested 1-0 result. It was an important RPI win for Creighton in a difficult place to play. Next up: @ UMKC, August 31. PR: 8.
5. UCLA 0-1-0. Head coach Jorge Salcedo told The Daily Bruin regarding the loss to Louisville that he thought two mental errors doomed his team and the score was not indicative of the play. It was obviously not the best game from the Bruins and a difficult opener, but it was a huge opportunity lost early in the season. UCLA’s record falls to 2-6-1 east of the Mississippi in recent years. Next up: @ Santa Clara, September 2. PR: 2.
6. Indiana 0-0-1. A scoreless draw on the road against a more experienced Notre Dame side was a good result for the Hoosiers. The next five games provide some lesser opposition and a chance to build a winning streak prior to Big Ten play. Next up: St. Louis, September 2. PR: 6.
7. Notre Dame 0-0-1. Ryan Finley is a nice option off the bench, but eventually, the Irish are going to need a full 90 out of its key transfer. Next up: Dayton, September 2. PR: 7.
8. Maryland 2-0-0. The Terps destroyed St. John’s, 3-0, in the opener on Saturday, then came-from-behind and knocked off a feisty Mountaineers squad on Monday, 3-1. Maryland is just starting to realize its potential offensively, which is the scary part for future opposition. Next up: Stanford, September 2. PR: 10
9. UCONN 1-0-0. Midfielder Carlos Alvarez pulled the strings and the Huskies endured some tough conditions to open the season with a comfortable win over St. Francis (NY). Next up: Michigan State, September 1. PR: 13.
10. SMU 0-1-0. Giving up three goals in the first game is not going to sit well with the coaching staff for the Mustangs. Next up: @ NC State, September 2. PR: 5.
11. West Virginia 1-1-0. A defensive mistake and a questionable red card doomed the Mountaineers to a defeat against Maryland on Monday. Beyond the final result though, West Virginia put together two solid performances against difficult opposition over the course of three days. Next up: Binghamton, September 2. PR: 24.
12. UCSB 1-0-0. A win is a win, but frankly speaking, the Gauchos’ opening performance was dreary at best. The introduction of Luis Silva into the lineup this week should provide a needed spark for the attack. Next up: Duke (@ NC State), September 2. PR: 16.
13. Duke 1-1-0. The Blue Devils defense was left more exposed than a hospital gown in the opening clash against UNCG. The shift of Andrew Wenger to forward has left a hole in the defense that needs to be addressed soon especially with Sebastian Ibeagha out for next game due to a red card. Next up: UCSB (@NC State), September 2. PR 11.
14. Georgetown 0-1-0 The Hoyas came up short in a hard-fought opening game on Monday against VCU. The loss of incoming-freshman Nico Muniz to professional opportunities hurt the depth in midfield especially from an attacking standpoint. Next up: Radford, September 2. PR: 9.
15. Virginia 1-1-0. The Cavaliers bounced back from an opening day loss to West Virginia with a 7-1 crushing of Richmond. Next up: Cincinnati (@ Va Tech), September 2. PR: 12
16. William and Mary 1-0-0. Nicolas Abrigo notched two goals on Saturday and led the Tribe to a 3-2 road win over SMU, which were undefeated at home last season. Next up: St. John’s, September 1. PR: NR.
17. South Florida 1-0-0. Michigan transfer Chris Blais recorded seven saves and led his new squad to an important road victory over ACC power Wake Forest. Next up: Georgia State, September 2. PR: NR
18. UCF 1-0-0. The knock on the Knights at this point is their out-of-conference schedule is pretty weak. Their next three opponents average out to 158 in terms of RPI rank according to last season’s record. Next up: Massachusetts, September 2. PR: 22
19. Denver 0-1-0. The Pioneers dropped the opener at home against a very good Creighton team, but showed enough to warrant a spot in the top 20 for another week. Next up: Davidson, September 4. PR: 19.
20. Penn St 2-0-0. Shutout victories over Siena and American have the Nittany Lions off to a good start. Next up: Stetson, September 2. PR: 21
21. Wake Forest 0-1-0. The Demon Deacons’ loss to USF showed this team is still young and has room for improvement. Next up: Louisville, September 2. PR: 15.
22. FGCU 0-1-0. The opening night home loss to FAU was a HUGE disappointment for the young program. However, there is little time to sulk with a challenging trip to the Pacific Northwest on the horizon. Next up: @ Portland, September 2. PR: 14.
23. UNC-Greensboro 1-0-0. Led by Hakan Ilhan’s two goals, the Spartans pulled off a minor upset victory over Duke. Next up: ETSU, August 31. PR: NR
24. Penn 0-0-0. No games last week. Next up: La Salle, September 2. PR: 24
25. NC State 1-0-1. There is a lot of talent on this team. The production offensively has been severely lacking though. Next up: SMU, September 2. PR: 25.
Game of the week: Louisville @ UNC, September 4
The Cardinals should be applauded for taking on such a challenging schedule early in the season. After knocking off a very talented UCLA team last week, Louisville goes down to North Carolina to square off against Wake Forest and North Carolina over Labor Day weekend.
The Tar Heel matchup is the more enticing affair, as the clash between star center back Matt Hedges and forward Colin Rolfe will have MLS scouts on notice. Both teams have the depth and talent to make a deep run in the NCAA postseason, so this game could be a preview of things to come.
TV game of the week: Stanford @ Maryland, September 2, 7:30 p.m. (ET), FSC
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