The men’s college soccer season officially starts next week when the real games kick off across the country.
Indiana captured the crown last December – the eighth NCAA Championship in program history – and holds down the top spot entering the 2013 campaign. The Hoosiers lost striker Eriq Zavaleta to a Generation adidas contract and sure-handed goalkeeper Luis Soffner to graduation. Along with the other pieces of that title-winning squad, the Hoosiers have some holes to fill this fall.
However, head coach Todd Yeagley returns midfield aces Nikita Kotlov and AJ Corrado as well as incoming transfer Dylan Mares, which should make the Hoosiers a threat late into the season once again.
Closely chasing Indiana in the rankings are 2012 College Cup participants Maryland and Georgetown. The East Coast programs that refuse to recognize each other are both built for a strong 2013 after their star players, Patrick Mullins and Steve Neumann respectively, decided to turn down more lucrative offers and return to college soccer.
Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouse North Carolina drops in at number four. The Tar Heels have to replace winger Danny Garcia, who signed a Homegrown contract with FC Dallas after a strong showing with the U.S. U20 Men’s National team during the offseason. The Tar Heels will be counting on a solid defense headlined by Boyd Okwuonu to get them through a challenging schedule.
Andre Blake and the Connecticut Huskies round out the top five, as the Jamaican netminder looks to lead his squad to a College Cup appearance in his third year starting in Storrs. Blake probably needs some help from the attack, after Carlos Alvarez, the main weapon for UConn last season, matriculated to MLS in the offseason.
Coming in at six and seven are the top teams from the West in New Mexico and UCLA respectively. Both teams have older squads that are poised for deep postseason runs. Senior duo Michael Calderon and Kyle Venter lead the Lobos while UCLA will be counting on Reed Williams, Joe Sofia, Leo Stolz and others to push past a difficult group of competitors in the Pac-12.
This season, TopDrawerSoccer.com will be ranking the top 25 teams every week during the season. For those familiar with the site, this is a change from the previous edition of projecting the postseason field every week. TDS still plans to project the field for the NCAA Tournament later in the season, but will take a more traditional approach with a ranking of the best 25 teams every week.
For the full list of the Top 25: click here.