FOX Soccer Exclusive
SMU returns to FOX Soccer's top 25
There wasn’t much major moving or shaking at the top of the Fox Soccer NCAA Top 25 this past week, but a loaded slate of high-profile matches this weekend promises to change that.
UConn held on to the top spot during an exciting week that saw the Huskies stay unbeaten courtesy of an impressive win against St. John’s and a last-minute overtime win against Yale. The Huskies may have been looking ahead to a Friday Big East showdown against Louisville.
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The Cardinals were the only team in the top seven to drop in the rankings after losing to Notre Dame. Ken Lolla’s squad can march back up the standings with a win against a UConn side that struggled to finish chances against Yale.
Creighton, the only other team in the NCAA Division I with a perfect record, cracked the Top Four for the first time this season, and will have a chance to really climb as the Blue Jays face the first truly tough test of the season against Maryland on Friday. Creighton has been the definition of perfect this year, not only boasting eight wins in eight matches, but also recording eight shutouts in the process.
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That shutout streak will face a severe challenge from a Maryland attack that just handed Top 25 side UNC-Charlotte a 3-1 drubbing on Tuesday. With Casey Townsend and Patrick Mullins in top form, the Terrapins will stand a good chance of being the first team to score on Creighton this season.
Another big climber in the rankings this week was South Florida, which defeated West Virginia in Morgantown to snap the Mountaineer’s NCAA-best 13-match home winning streak.
Of the two new entrants into the Top 25, one is a familiar squad. SMU, which began the year ranked No. 6 before an early season slumped dropped the team out of the rankings, climbed back into the rankings after beating UCLA in Los Angeles. The Mustangs will have a chance to solidify their place in the Top 25 with a key Conference USA showdown vs. No. 13 Central Florida on Saturday.
Another pre-season favorite on the verge of returning to the Top 25 after a slow start to the season is Duke. The Blue Devils are on fire, riding the goal-scoring of NCAA scoring leader Andrew Wenger. Duke will have a chance to climb back into the rankings with a win on Friday against arch-rival North Carolina, which is playing some of the best soccer in the nation.
Here is a look at the new Fox Soccer NCAA Top 25:
FOX SOCCER NCAA MEN’S SOCCER TOP 25
(Previous ranking in parentheses, records through Wednesday)
1. (1) UConn (9-0)
2. (2) Maryland (8-0-1)
3. (3) North Carolina (8-1)
4. (5) Creighton (8-0)
5. (6) Akron (8-0-2)
6. (7) Indiana (6-0-2)
7. (12) Notre Dame (5-1-2)
8. (4) Louisville (6-2)
9. (8) Boston College (7-2)
10. (11) St. John’s (6-2-1)
11. (17) South Florida (5-2-1)
12. (19) New Mexico (6-0-2)
13. (15) Central Florida (7-1-1)
14. (9) UCLA (6-3-1)
15. (10) UCSB (6-2-1)
16. (20) Washington (5-1-2)
17. (22) Northern Illinois (7-1)
18. (24) Furman (8-1-2)
19. (13) Penn State (5-2-2)
20. (25) East Tennessee State (6-1-1)
21. (NR) SMU (5-3)
22. (18) UC-Irvine (8-2)
23. (23) UNC-Charlotte (7-2)
24. (25) Coastal Carolina (6-2)
25. (NR) Bradley (6-1-2)
Georgetown (5-1-3), Duke, James Madison (5-1-1), UC-Riverside (6-2-1), Cal-State Fullerton (6-1-2), Cal-State Bakersfield (4-0-4), Monmouth (6-2), Ohio State (5-4-1), West Virginia (4-4-1)
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.