Top 10 preview
Top-ranked Messiah looks to repeat as season starts
No. 1 Messiah
The Falcons are set to begin their 2012 national championship defense this weekend when they play host to both Alma on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Scranton on Saturday at 7 p.m. on Shoemaker Field.
Messiah defeated Emory 1-0 in the 2012 national final, avenging an early season overtime loss to the Eagles on Shoemaker Field to earn the program's fifth NCAA crown. That loss to Emory and a 1-1 tie with William Smith were the only blemishes on the Falcons' season as they finished 24-1-1.
After winning its sixth consecutive Commonwealth title, Messiah outscored its NCAA tournament opponents 17-1 en route to the title and it now holds an all-time record of 47-7-4 (.845) in the tournament. The Falcons outscored their opponents 134-21 in those games, all of which have come since 2000.
No. 2 Emory
Emory will open its 2013 season this weekend, traveling to the northeast to play a pair of 2012 NCAA tournament teams in No. 16 Wheaton (Mass.) on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. and Massachusetts-Boston on Monday, Sept. 2 at 1:00 p.m.
Emory will enter the 2013 season as the second-ranked team after finishing as the national runners-up at the 2012 NCAA championships. The Eagles ended last season with an overall record of 15-2-7, and will return 20 players from last year's team, including nine who started at least 12 games. In 2012, the Eagles averaged 2.36 goals per game, 87th-best among Division III teams, while the defense's 0.416 goals-against average ranked eighth among Division III squads.
No. 3 Wheaton (Ill.)
Wheaton opens its season on Aug. 30 at 4:30 p.m. with a match against Montclair State, ranked 23rd in the poll, in the opening day of the Bob Baptista Inivitational at Joe Bean Stadium. The Thunder will take on Redlands at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 31 in the final day of the tournament.
The No. 3-ranked Thunder finished 21-4-2 in 2012, as head coach Pete Felske's team advanced to the national semifinals match for the sixth time in eight years.
No. 4 Washington (Mo.)
The No. 4 ranked Washington (Mo.) team opens the 2013 season at Rhodes College at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, in Memphis.
Sixth-year head coach Jim Conlon returns eight players who each started at least 10 games in 2012. The Bears finished last season with a school record 19-2-1 mark, and advanced to the national quarterfinals for the sixth time in school history. Washington also won its eighth University Athletic Association championship with a 6-0-1 conference record.
No. 5 Carnegie Mellon
Carnegie Mellon will open the 2013 season with its highest national ranking, as the No. 5 team in the country according to the NSCAA preseason rankings. The team returns six starters and 17 players from last season's NCAA quarterfinal team which finished as the most successful team in program history, recording five school records and finishing with a 14-1-5 record.
The Tartans open the season on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 2:30 p.m. with a neutral site match against Capital at Penn State-Behrend.
No. 6 Hardin-Simmons
The Cowgirls will open the season against Puget Sound on Friday at 3 p.m. in San Antonio. They return eight starters and 23 letter winners from last year’s squad that reached the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Hardin-Simmons was picked as the American Southwest Conference favorite. The Cowgirls have won 10 consecutive ASC titles and haven't lost an ASC game dating back to September 2000, a streak that now stretches 157 games. The Cowgirls are sixth in the first NSCAA national poll.
The Cowgirls have made several position changes with returning players from a year ago and going into the opener only a handful of starters will start in the same position as they did a year ago.
No. 7 Johns Hopkins
Hopkins will kick off the 2013 season with the JHU Invitational on Aug. 31 against Averett at Homewood Field, followed by a game vs. Methodist on Sept.1. The two early contests will serve as preparation for the team's clash with defending NCAA champion Messiah on Sept. 4. The Blue Jays will look to avenge their season-ending loss to Messiah in the quarterfinals during last season's NCAA tournament.
The Blue Jays enter the 2013 season ranked seventh nationally and favored to win the Centennial Conference for the eighth consecutive year. After graduating only two seniors, head coach Leo Weil will turn to an experienced group of upperclassmen to lead the Blue Jays in his 22nd year.
No. 8 Trinity (Texas)
The Tigers will start their season with a home match against Luther at 8 p.m. on Friday, followed by a Sunday pairing with Puget Sound at 1:00 p.m.
The game against Puget Sound is a rematch of a first-round game in last season’s NCAA tournament, which the Tigers won 1-0 before falling to Hardin Simmons in the second round. Trinity finished 2012 with a 15-1-3 record.
No. 9 Lynchburg
Lynchburg will start its campaign as a part of the Roanoke College Kickoff Tournament. The Hornets will take on Salisbury at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, followed by a matchup with Birmingham Southern on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 12 p.m.
The Hornets are the favorite in the ODAC preseason poll after winnings its third consecutive conference title last season, and they made it to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
No. 10 Ithaca
The Blue Bombers start their season as participants in the Kean Cougar Classic in Kean, N.J. Ithaca will play against Kean Friday at 2 p.m., with the ensuing game against Richard Stockton on Saturday at 3 p.m.