Like in other NCAA sports, men’s soccer has its share of powerhouses. For years, the men’s soccer programs from universities like Stanford, North Carolina, Maryland, and Wake Forest have dominated the landscape. However, because soccer is such a low scoring sport, the NCAA rankings in the world of men’s soccer are more often shaken up by zero-to-hero-type teams. Two up-and-coming teams to look out for in 2017 are Denver and Providence. Three men’s soccer teams that are expected to do very well this coming season are Maryland, Clemson, and Stanford.
The Cardinal’s top player, Foster Langsdorf, is returning for his senior season in 2017. Langsdorf, a 5’10” forward from Vancouver, Washington netted 15 goals and scored 32 points during the 2016 campaign. Langsdorf was a Second Team NCAA All-American, and was awarded with the 2016 Co-Pac-12 Player of the Year.
Stanford plans to ride Langsdorf’s hot scoring to the top of the NCAA rankings again in 2017. The team also expects big contributions from veteran players like forward Corey Baird, who scored 3 goals in 2017. Midfielder Drew Skundrich, who measures in at 5’11” and 165 pounds, also plans to factor in heavily to the Cardinal’s plans in 2017.
Clemson finished the 2016 season ranked fifth in the country. Although many teams would be pleased with such a high ranking, the Tigers, a national powerhouse in men’s soccer, were disappointed with the way they finished off the year.
This coming season, expect the team to rally behind the play of senior forward, Diego Campos. Campos, a native of Costa Rica, scored his biggest goal of the 2016 season against UC Santa Barbara during the 2016 NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
Clemson’s star defensive player will be redshirt sophomore, Andrew Burnikel. The South Carolina native’s stout defensive presence makes the Clemson Tigers a favorite for people placing soccer-related bets as analyzed on betting sites.
Before 2016, the Denver Pioneers only had appeared in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament six times in school history. This is why the team’s recent postseason success is so impressive.
The Pioneers hope to continue their upstart ways in 2017 behind the play of Andre Shinyashiki. Shinyashiki, a native of Brazil, scored 9 goals for the Pioneers during 2016. More impressively, Andre scored 5 game-winning goals over an 8 game stretch in 2016, which earned him Summitt League Player of the Week honors several times.
The Pioneers will also turn to another experienced forward, Blake Elder, for offense in 2017. The redshirt senior transferred from the Air Force Academy a couple of years ago, and made an immediate impact on the offensive side of the field for the Pioneers.
Another upstart team to look out for in 2017 is the Providence Friars. The Friars surprised a lot of people in the Big East Conference in 2016, and the team’s coach, Craig Stewart, has his squad primed for another excellent season this year.
Mac Steeves led the Friars in scoring during the 2016 season, and the redshirt senior from Needham, Massachusetts expects to lead his team in the same category during 2017. Providence is also expecting big contributions from Mark Jecewiz, a redshirt senior defender, and Dominik Machado, a redshirt senior who plays at midfield.
Another NCAA powerhouse that expects to have success again during the 2017 soccer season is the Maryland Terrapins. The Terrapins will be led by Gordon Wild, a junior forward who hails from Cologne, Germany. Wild paced the Terrapins in 2016 with 17 goals.
Amar Sedjic, another junior for the Terrapins, hopes to make strong contributions in 2017 as well.
In 2017, the top ranked teams in NCAA Men’s Soccer should continue to be dominated by schools that have been good in the past. Teams like Maryland, Clemson, and Stanford expect to be playing for a championship this season. At the same time, do not be surprised to see smaller schools like Providence and Denver come out of nowhere to shake things up.