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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

2007 NCAA Pre-Season College Soccer Rankings...

College Soccer News is out with their 2007 pre-season poll. UCLA, Duke, UCSB, Wake Forest, Santa Clara...the usual suspects for the top five. What do you think about the rest of the list?

Here are my thoughts:

- The always tough ACC will be the class of the NCAA during the regular season.

- If Joe Lapira can have another huge scoring season Notre Dame will not be as low as #11. Incoming freshman Matt Armstrong will be a strong addition coming out of Bradenton Residency. Look for this team late in the season.

- Harvard at #15 seems high. I don't see how a season playing in the Ivy League prepares you for success in the NCAA tourney. Yes, they have Andre Akpan who has played well with the U-20 Men, but it takes 11 players and the Ivy league level of competition isn't there.

- Clemson at #22. Yeah, they graduated the meat of their attack but incoming freshman are well decorated and an injection of youth could keep this ACC power purring for years to come. It will be interesting to see how three freshman All-Americans meld together.

- Old Dominion at #27. Old D's defense was working hard this season in the PDL. Their keeper, Evan Newton, was named keeper of the year and senior defender David Horst was named to the PDL All-League squad. If they can find some offense, look for them to stun one of two in the tourney.

- UCLA #1. Will UCLA be able to take the crown? They've lost one of their most dynamic players, Sal Zizzo, but there is plenty of talent to fill in. David Estrada and Kyle Nakazawa were amazing as freshmen and should lead the charge. However, this is a long season and I'm sure plenty of competition will crop up for the Bruins.

The biggest question at the start of a new season is how will last year's champions fare. Can UCSB repeat the championship that sent the goals into the ocean? Ciaran O'Brien had a strong summer in the PDL making the All-League team and sophomore will certainly try to exert his control over the game. Senior defender and 2006 Soccer America MVP Andy Iro will use his size to keep forwards from scoring goals. Don't forget Eric Avila or Nick Perera either. They certainly have a chance to make it back.

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