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Text Box: 2012 Pre-Season Top 30 Poll

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6.  Akron – Don’t underestimate the Zips.  They won 15 games last year in a remolding season.  A ton of talent returns along with a blockbuster recruiting class.  The backline will be awesome led by senior goalkeeper David Meves, senior center back Chad Barson, and sophomores Deandre Yedlin and Bryan Gallego.  Senior Scott Caldwell (6g, 11a), super sophomore Wil Trapp (0g, 5a), and junior Aodhan Quinn (3g, 10a) return in the midfield.  The big question is who is going to fill the shoes of Darren Mattocks (21g, 4a)?  It could be done by committee or solely by talented freshman forward Alfred Koroma.

 

7.  UCLA – Let’s be realistic.  The Bruins will be very competitive and will improve as the season progresses but they enter the 2012 campaign without six starters including five that were All-Pac 12 First Team selections for a reason.  The backline of seniors Matt Wiet and Chris Cummings and juniors Joe Sofia and Patrick Matchett and goalkeeper Earl Edwards will be among the best in the country but the learning curve, a much stronger Pac-12 Conference, and a brutal September schedule that includes games on the road with Maryland, Virginia and UC Santa Barbara will take a toll.

 

8.   South Florida – Eight starters return from the 2011 team that advanced to the Elite Eight.  The question mark is offensive productivity.  Last year George Kiefer recruited JUCO All-American forward Dom Dwyer who netted 16 goals, was named an All-American, and departed to enter the professional ranks. Kiefer has returned to the well once again adding NJCAA All-Americans forward Edwin Moalosi and midfielder Samuel Hosseini to a roster that features midfielders Sebastien Thuriere (2g, 1a) and Leston Paul (4g, 1a) and defenders Brenton Griffiths, Ashani Fairclough and Ben Sweat.

 

9.  UC Santa Barbara - The departure of guys like Luis Silva (17g, 10a), Sam Garza (8g, 4a) and David Opoku (9g, 2a) leaves some big shoes to fill.  Nonetheless there is a lot to like about the Gauchos heading in 2012 as Tim Vom Steeg has again done a really good job of bringing aboard talented replacements.  Forward Dom Sarle (4g, 10a), midfielders Machael David, Nick Ryan, Fifi Baden and Josue Madueno, defenders Peter Schmetz and Peter McGlynn and senior goalkeeper Andre Grandt are among returning players.  The question is can all the incoming transfers coalesce with the returning players into a single unified team. 

10.  Coastal Carolina – What’s the difference between the traditional superpowers of college soccer and Coastal Carolina?  We’ll find out this season and the answer could be nothing.  Few teams in the country can run and gun with Shaun Docking’s Chanticleers who were 18-4-0 overall last year and led the NCAA in scoring with a total of sixty-six goals.  Senior All-American forward Ashton Bennett (23g, 7a) returns along with junior midfielders Pedro Ribeiro (9g, 8a) and Justin Portillo (4g, 4a) and sophomore linkman Ricky Garbanzo (6g, 7a).  Sophomores Kjartan Sigurdsson and Henrik Robstad will anchor the backline.

 

11. Indiana – Eight starters return from the 2011 team that was 13-4-5 overall and that advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tourney where they fell 1-0 in overtime to eventual national champion North Carolina.  Sophomore Eriq Zavaleta (10g, 5a) who was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year returns to run the show on the offensive side of the ball.  Big things are also expected from incoming freshman forward Andrew Oliver.  Juniors Nikita Kotlow (9g, 1a), A.J. Corrado (2g, 4a) and Harrison Petts (0g, 6a) return in the midfield. Senior center back Caleb Konstanski and veteran goalkeeper Luis Soffner anchor the defense.

12.   Boston College –  There’s nothing much safer than picking Boston College to nestle somewhere around the top ten.  The Eagles are led on the offensive side of the ball by ACC First Team selections senior forward Charlie Rugg (8g, 5a) and senior midfielder Kyle Bekker (8g, 7a).  Sophomore midfielder Diego Medina-Mende (8g, 5a) an ACC All-Freshman selection adds another dimension to the offense.  Junior central defender Chris Ager returns to anchor the backline along with junior Ryan Dunn.  Senior goalkeeper Justin Luthy is a prime timer with three years of starting experience under his belt.