Another week in Division II soccer brought about another grouping of solid matchups. With such a massive shakeup at the top of both the men's and women's rankings last week, there's a brand new glut of chasers for the crown as we begin to kick into the meat of the conference schedule.
Let's take a look at some of the big stories from another topsy-turvy week in Division II.
West Florida women and Lynn men fall from top-ranked grace
Last week wasn't a great one for Division II's defending national champs. Neither lost a game - which was key for a couple reasons - but Lynn drew for the first time and West Florida drew twice. That dropped both precipitously in the polls, with Lynn falling to No. 6 in the men's rankings and West Florida stumbling all the way down to No. 10. With Grand Valley State assuming the top spot in the women's game and Canadian outfit Simon Fraser taking over No. 1 in the men's, Lynn and West Florida are now playing catchup. Things are unlikely to get better for Lynn, which fell hard last week in a 4-1 beating administered by unranked Nova Southeastern. West Florida, meanwhile, had its only game from the weekend cancelled due to weather and hadn't had a chance to improve upon its standing until a late Tuesday game against Montevallo. Now that the pack has caught up to Lynn and West Florida, the question becomes whether those two strong programs can hack it as the chasers and instead of the ones being chased.
West Texas A&M University men rising in prominence and in the polls
One of the hottest teams in the country is making impressive dust clouds on the plains of Canyon, Texas. The Buffs entered last weekend at No. 8 in the nation, and they upheld their standing as one of the quickest risers in the country with a 2-0 win over Texas A&M International on Saturday to run their record to a perfect 5-0-0. With goals from Austin Henderson and late sub Chase Withrow, West Texas A&M bossed play and rightly got its fifth win of the season. Even more impressive, the Buffs have registered shutouts in four of their five games this season, meaning the play has been appropriately balanced for a team aiming for a jump in the polls. If West Texas A&M can keep moving, there's no reason to think a top five ranking in the coming weeks is out of the question.
Up-and-down weekend for Columbus State women runs the emotional gamut
Friday was a big night for Columbus State. By maneuvering past then-No. 3 Armstrong Atlantic(w) with an historic 2-0 upset, the Cougars scored a win over a top-five ranked opponent for the first time in program history. Columbus State was previously 0-9-1 against top five teams, including two previous losses this season. That win put the capper on an outstanding run of three consecutive wins in grand fashion, and it was even bigger because it opened up conference play with a massive win. By even scoring against Armstrong, Columbus State broke a scoreless streak against the Pirates that stretched back to 2009 and spanned more than six matches. But the charmed weekend wasn't to be, as Columbus State fell hard in a 4-2 loss to Lee just a day later. If there was a bonus for the Cougars it was that Lee is a nonconference foe, but after such an enormous win on Friday, it undoubtedly would have been nice to extend the win streak to four.
No. 2 LIU Post, No. 3 Rollins men stick to unbeaten ways
While Simon Fraser opened its conference account over the weekend with flying colors, the Clan's immediate chasers were busy burnishing unbeaten resumes of their own. Post held off Millersville on Saturday for a tight 2-1 win to run its record to 6-0-0 thanks to a 51st-minute penalty kick that decided matters. Rollins, meanwhile, blasted Eckerd 4-1 later that day to move its mark to 5-0-0. With Simon Fraser a shoo-in to win its league, its imperative that the teams directly on its back keep up the pressure to maintain some semblance of a roll as the season plunges into conference play. Post and Rollins did just that over the weekend.
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