Text Box: The Fourteen Greatest Rivalries In College Soccer 

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Rivalries often result in the most intense and interesting college soccer contests for players, coaches, and fans.  The best rivalries have attained event status and have special meaning way beyond just the outcome of the game. 

 

The dictionary defines rival as “a person who is trying to surpass another.”  The word “competition” is the one single word that is almost always used when defining rivalry.  Rivalries often entitle the winner to bragging  rights that last until the next time the two teams square off.   

 

Similarities such as close proximity, winning records, or a history of meeting each other annually in critical conference games often produce rivalries between schools.   

 

Rivalries add excitement and college soccer has its share of outstanding rivalries.  CSN researched the topic and contacted a lot of very knowledgeable individuals throughout the country in an effort to identify the fourteen current greatest rivalries in college soccer.  Saint Louis and SIU Edwardsville which drew 22,152 fans back in 1980 was not included because the two teams don’t currently play each other in regular season play.  Ranking the rivalries was tough so don’t get hung up on that because everyone views the rivalry they are involved in as the most intense and interesting.  Our findings are listed below in reverse order beginning with rivalry number fourteen. 

#13 - Denver and New Mexico    

 

The fact that this contest has evolved into such a great rivalry reflects the success that New Mexico has enjoyed under Jeremy Fishbein and Denver under Bobby Muuss.  The outcome of this one has a huge impact on who is going to prevail in the MPSF and who is going to go dancing.  Intense, exciting and physical.  The all-time series has New Mexico leading 15-12-3 and in fifteen out of the last seventeen times the two teams have played the difference has been one goal or the they have tied.  

 

Both head coaches have nothing but good things to say about the match-up or maybe they just were being extra careful not to say anything that might give their opponent an edge.  Muuss stated, “We are lucky to have a rivalry with a great program like New Mexico.  Every game since I have been here has been a hard fought, one goal game or tie.  All I know is that the two times a year that the two teams play you can expect a well played soccer game with two teams giving it everything they have.” 

 

Fishbein stated, “We have pretty much split games the past three years and both teams love the neighboring state rivalry and competing against former club teammates.  He added, “Bobby has really elevated Denver's program and we look forward to this year’s matches.” 

#14 - SMU and Tulsa 

 

This rivalry may not have the level of personal animosity that some others have but it is always a battle and a contest that players at both schools anticipate annually because they know the outcome will likely determine who will prevail in Conference USA play.  This contest also almost always has huge implications for both schools on the national scene. 

 

Both programs respect each other, recruit a lot of the same players, and they annually work together by playing in each others tournament but one participant pretty much summed things up when he stressed that when these two teams face each other in conference play it is all business and they do everything they can to prevail.  The intensity of this match-up often  produces some unexpected and unusual moments like the goal SMU defender Adam Still scored from seventy-five yards out in the 2010 match-up.  

#12 - South Florida and the University of Central Florida

 

This one is called the I-4 corridor rivalry because the schools are only about an hour away from each other on the corners of the same highway.  When it comes to athletic competition there is no love lost between USF and UCF.  Both schools would like nothing better than to top the other.  In fact, it is highly likely that each would be more than happy to open a can of whop you no what on the other. 

 

The atmosphere when these programs clash on the pitch is special and reflects what you might call a very healthy rivalry.  Historically South Florida has gotten the best of the series but it looks like things may be evening out.  Last year Central Florida made a statement of sorts when they  dominated South Florida 3-0 in Orlando in the first round of the NCAA Tourney in a match that some considered the biggest win in UCF program history.   This one will continue to be about pride, respect, and of course bragging rights.