Photo by Tony Quinn/ISIphotos.com
By JOHN BOSCHINI
For much of last season, Louisville and Akron were fixtures near the top of the NSCAA Top 25, and the voters expect much of the same for 2011.
Louisville received the No. 1 spot on the strength of a strong 2010 campaign and returns of key attacking players Dylan Mares and Colin Rolfe. Akron defeated the Cardinals in the College Cup last fall, but Caleb Porter saw his team decimated by graduations and an exodus to the MLS through Generation Adidas. Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks' return paired with a promising upcoming class was enough to convince the voters that the Zips deserved the second spot.
North Carolina saw the departure of long-time coach Elmar Bolowich and playmaker Michael Farfan, but a strong underclassman representation puts the Tar Heels in third place and makes them the early favorite in the always competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.
Maryland and SMU, both of which missed out on last season's College Cup thanks to overtime losses, round out the top five. UCLA, most experts' dark-horse contender for a national championship, comes in at sixth while Bolowich's new team, Creighton, cracks the top 10.
Here is a full rundown of the preseason Top 25 poll.
NSCAA PRESEASON MEN'S SOCCER TOP 25
3. North Carolina
12. Notre Dame
13. William & Mary
14. UC Santa Barbara
15. Ohio State
16. South Carolina
18. Penn State
19. Michigan State
24. UC Irvine
25. Boston College
Also receiving votes: Central Florida, Princeton, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Charlotte, San Diego, Monmouth, Loyola Marymount, Providence, Florida Gulf Coast, Old Dominion, UMBC, Tulsa, Georgetown
What did you think of the preseason poll? Is Louisville the early favorite for the national title? Which team was unfairly left off the list? How much stock do you put in this poll?
Share your thoughts below.