What do the past three College Cup champions have in common? Besides the shiny hardware and confetti snow angels, a third acceptable answer would be stellar goalkeeping. Since 2016, the winning team has not conceded a goal in the NCAA tournament.
While that streak might not continue with the upcoming campaign, we came up with five goalies who could carry a team this season.
KICK OFF: Opening weekend schedule for 2019
TJ Bush - James Madison
Bush nearly doubled his appearance total from 2017 to 2018, becoming the starter for James Madison.
In the past year, the Dukes defense experienced a staggering improvement. They allowed 14 fewer goals and won six more games, coming within 20 minutes of a College Cup appearance. Bush’s 13 shutouts were tied for the fifth-most in Division I, notably blanking High Point and No. 12 seed Virginia Tech in the NCAA tournament.
After reaching the cusp of the College Cup last season, Bush might be the netminder to get the Dukes over the hump in 2019.
Enrique Facusse - Kentucky
Kentucky’s 49 goals were tied for the fourth-most a season ago. Scoring in bunches becomes considerably easier when the defense is reliable. But Facusse was more than reliable for the Wildcats.
The junior conceded 11 goals last year, helping Kentucky’s win total improve by from seven to 19. His 14 shutouts were tied for the lead in Division I, including clean sheets against Louisville and Indiana as well as Charlotte in the Conference USA tournament.
Facusse’s breakout year earned him second-team All-American honors in 2018. But with Indiana star Trey Muse gone, he’s a strong contender to make the top team.
Jacob Harris - Colgate
Halfway into the 2017 season, the starting goaltender position was turned over to Harris. He’s guided Colgate to back-to-back Patriot League titles and NCAA tournament appearances.
In Harris’ first full year, he was second in Division I in minutes played, allowing 17 goals on the season while registering nine shutouts.
Despite the offense producing 27 goals, Colgate reached the second round of the NCAA tournament behind Harris’ back-to-back shutouts in the conference championship game and the opening round of the postseason.
With Harris in goal, the Raiders could maintain their grip on the Patriot League for a fourth straight season.
Elliot Panicco - Charlotte
How good was Eliott Panicco at home last season? The first time he was scored on in Charlotte came during the Conference USA tournament title game, ending a scoreless streak of 1,026 minutes.
Panicco’s junior season with the 49ers resulted in career high totals in shutouts (12), saves (73) and wins (14). A first-team All-Conference USA selection, Panicco helped the 49ers reach the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid.
Now a redshirt senior, he’ll try to lead Charlotte back to the postseason for the eighth time in the past nine seasons.
Remi Prieur - Saint Mary’s
Prieur became the full-time starter for Saint Mary’s in 2018, a move that paid tremendous dividends in Moraga.
The Gaels entered the postseason without a loss, finishing the season at No. 9 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll and capturing the West Coast Conference title for only the second time in program history.
Named a United Soccer Coaches third-team All-American, Prieur was the backbone of an enigmatic Saint Mary’s defense that conceded eight times in 2018. After jumping from six wins in 2017 to 18 a year ago, the Gaels received a national seed in the NCAA tournament.
Prieur’s return not only gives the Gaels a chance to return to the NCAA tournament, but also to make some noise.