Giants fall in week two of college soccer season
Week two of the college soccer season wasn’t kind to top-ranked teams or historic powerhouses as six of the top 10 ranked teams in the nation fell. The biggest upset at all happened to the team that looked the strongest after the opening weekend: UCLA.
The Bruins were knocked off by American University with a 97th minute golden goal from Dale Ludwig at a weekend tournament in New Mexico. Last week’s top-ranked team in the coaches poll bounced back two days later beating the hosts, the sixth-ranked Lobos.
Third-ranked Virginia, still missing Darius Madison to an ankle injury, lost to Tulsa on Friday night and No. 2 Louisville was held to a scoreless draw to the visiting Cornell Big Red. Washington continued the trend of powerhouse upsets with a 2-1 loss to St. Mary’s on Sunday afternoon.
Monday night provided two more headline-stealing upsets with Kentucky knocking off Notre Dame in South Bend on a goal with 25 seconds left in regulation and Navy holding on to beat Maryland 2-1 in Annapolis.
Normally I’m not a fan of rankings for any sport, especially those of the preseason variety, but the rankings in these cases illuminate just how difficult it is night in and night out even for the top programs in college soccer. One weekend a team like UCLA looks unbeatable and a week later they are ripe for the picking by a plucky squad from the nation’s capital accustomed to being overshadowed by programs like Maryland and Georgetown.
Speaking of the Hoyas, they were one of the few top teams that shined in week two, picking up a pair of wins over Harvard and Wisconsin after two disappointing opening weekend draws. Creighton continued their winning ways, building on two opening weekend wins with two more shutout victories over Western Illinois and Cincinnati. The Blue Jays are yet to surrender a goal all season through four matches.
Penn State appeared to be heading toward a fourth straight shutout victory of their own on Monday night but two red cards opened the door for a late James Madison equalizer that remarkably held up through two overtimes as the final score for the still unbeaten Nittany Lions. Conference foes Michigan State kept their scoreless streak intact but left Chicago with a scoreless draw on Saturday against Illinois-Chicago that pushed their record to 3-0-1.
As individual performances go, Bowling Green’s Pat Flynn had a career day last Tuesday when he scored five goals in the first half an 8-0 victory (highlights HERE) over Division II Findlay and followed it up with a brace in a 4-0 win over Niagara on Friday. The sophomore has eight goals on the young season to lead all of Division 1 and a pair of assists.
Cal State Northridge senior Sagi Lev-Ari helped the Matadors get their season back on track after two opening weekend losses with a pair of game-winners to beat UAB and Tulsa over the weekend. His Sunday winner in overtime was his fourth of the season.
North Carolina forward Andy Craven matched Lev-Ari’s weekend with a pair of game-winners in victories over Old Dominion and VCU. The fifth year senior who missed all of last season has scored the game-winner in all three of the Tar Heels wins this season.
George Mason senior Timi Mulgrew (tied for second with UNLV’s Salvador Bernal) continued his goal scoring tear to start the season, chipping in his fifth goal of the season with the winner in a 2-1 victory over Wisconsin that despite being exhibit A of college’s often lamented route 1 style is still pretty fun to watch.
Mulgrew’s goal has nothing on Russell Cicerone’s goal of the week shoe-in, an overtime golden goal from midfield for Buffalo (damn those gridiron lines).
Defensively, American’s Jake Weinreb was key to the Eagles huge upset over UCLA and overtime win over UC Riverside to win the Grange & Ashwill Memorial Tournament. The senior defender was named MVP of the tournament.
UMBC senior centerback Oumar Ballo was a bright spot in an otherwise drab scoreless draw between the Retrievers and instate rivals Maryland on Friday night. Ballo was seemingly everywhere in the game, winning balls and frustrating the Terps offense all evening in a display of strength and skill that explain why he’s considered a top prospect in the 2015 MLS Superdraft.