2011 College Soccer Preview: Top Contenders

2011 College Soccer Preview: Top Contenders

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 25, 2011
  • 2011 College Cup, 2011 College Season, Akron, Louisville, UCLA, UNC

Akron celebrates their first NCAA title. (AP Photo)

School is back in session for another year, which means it is time to dive into the college soccer world once again. It doesn’t seem that long ago when Akron took home the NCAA trophy and then saw a mass exodus of players to Major League Soccer.

I’m really hoping to stay a little more up on the college scene this season. As most of you who regularly read my work know, I do love the SuperDraft and covering it here. You can expect more of that this season, hopefully more too.

So who are the big dogs this season? Well the list of names shouldn’t surprise you one bit.

The college season kicks off this weekend and thus begins the road to Birmingham, the home of the 2011 NCAA Final Four.

The Contenders:

Louisville: The 2011 runners-up are expected to lead the pack once again in the Big East. Coach Ken Lolla has plenty of talent to compete this year too with Colin Rolfe, Austin Berry and Dylan Mares. I fully expect Rolfe to be one of the major players this year in college soccer. You’ll certainly see his name everywhere the Hermann trophy is discussed.

Akron: Yes the Zips lost a ton of talent but you cannot for a second count coach Caleb Porter out of keeping his team in the thick of things again this season. This team possibly got a little deeper with all the MLS academy talent they picked up as well as being able to rely on some returning stars like Darren Mattocks and Scott Caldwell.

UCLA: The Bruins could be the strongest team in the country. They were young last year, didn’t lose a ton of talent to MLS, and return all 11 starters. Yes, this team is deep. This team will go as midfielder Kelyn Rowe goes. If you haven’t seen Rowe play, do yourself a favor and catch a UCLA game or two this season. He’s really fun to watch.

UNC: The Tar-Heels reloaded in a good way for this season. Most hope forwards Cameron Brown and Billy Schuler return to their old scoring ways after a disappointing and injury-ridden season last year. Their defense should be strong this season as well with Matt Hedges in the back.

Maryland: Don’t sleep on this club either, the Terps should be back in the mix this season as long as Casey Townsend steps up. This team has the bite up top that will keep them in plenty of games but their keeper situation does worry me a tad bit. Can Red Bull academy keeper Keith Cardona take the job from Zac MacMath’s former backup Will Swaim? This will certainly be a team that I’ll have a closer eye on this season.

Notre Dame: This team is loaded with talent and got even better with forward Ryan Findley transferring over from Duke. With Dillon Powers in the midfield this team will be exciting to watch. I have them pegged as a dark horse team to go far this season in the tournament.

SMU: A top five team to most folks but can they get over the hump and go far in the tournament is always a question surrounding the Mustangs. Their defense should be their strong suit as they have three seniors leading the way (Diogo Almeida, Peyton Hickey and Ian Kalis).

Others to watch:

Creighton, US Santa Barbara, UConn, Virginia, Indiana, Duke, and California

  • I thought Findley can’t play for a year because he transferred?

    • nope, from what I’m being told he’s eligible to play this year at Notre Dame. Not sure how the Irish worked their way around it but he’s good to go.