The 2018 DII men's soccer season ended with some surprises. Barry became the fourth-straight first-time national champion and a junior transfer at Fort Hays State — Santiago Agudelo — exploded onto the scene to lead DII in goals scored.
As usual, it was tough to predict the 2018 season, and it doesn't get much easier for 2019. But that doesn't mean it isn't fun to take a stab. Here are three predictions that will unfold in the DII men's soccer season, we think.
OPENING WEEKEND: Schedule, games to watch for the top 25 in Week 1
The DII men's soccer title returns to the West Coast
Barry has its work set out in 2019. The last repeat champion in DII men's soccer wasn't even this millennium, with Southern Connecticut State going back-to-back in 1998-99. In fact, the Bucs will have a tough time winning their own conference, with Sunshine State Conference foes Palm Beach Atlantic and Lynn as tough as anyone in DII men's soccer.
The East Coast has dominated recent DII history, and while Fort Lewis claimed a national championship in 2009, the SkyHawks are in Colorado, and still hours away from the left coast. You have to go back to 2008 and Cal State Dominguez Hills to find the last champion from California, but this year there are two viable contenders.
Cal Poly Pomona won its first California Collegiate Athletic Association regular-season title, which is remarkable considering the Broncos are the two-time West Region champions. The Broncos have been to the semifinals in the DII men's soccer tournament in three out of the last four years and return quite a few pieces from last year's team.
Jimmie Villalobos, who led the team in goals, as well as Cyro Oliveria and Eduardo Faria, who were the assists leaders, return in a core of seven starters with hopes of reaching Pittsburgh for the DII semifinals once more and a shot at that elusive national championship. But Cal State LA also returns a bunch and just may be the team to beat out West.
The Golden Eagles have won back-to-back CCAA tournament titles, so they are no stranger to the DII men's soccer tournament. Robin Lindahl, Cal State LA's top goal scorer from a year ago, returns with six other starters, all of which earned all-CCAA honors last season. These two teams will be fun to watch battle each other, and whoever comes out of the West should be considered a strong contender for the 2019 national championship.
Simon Fraser will lead DII men's soccer in scoring
It's tough to go against Fort Hays State, who led the circuit in scoring in 2018 with Agudelo returning for one more run in 2019. Add to that Simon Fraser losing some top-end goal-scoring talent and, well, it may seem odd to think that SFU can lead the division in scoring.
Gone are the GNAC player of the year (Mamadi Camara) and defensive player of the year (Michael North), but back are seven starters, most of which can score in bunches. Matteo Polisi is the best of the bunch, with 28 career goals in his first two seasons, but Connor Glennon is also back who knocked in 16 goals himself last season. Simon Fraser scored four or more goals in six of its 17 victories and three in five more. The returning offense outscored its opponents 61-8 last season, so there is more than enough firepower to put Simon Fraser atop the scoring list in DII this season.
Fort Hays State will chase history, extend its home winning streak
The longest current home winning streak belongs to the Tigers who have won 16 in a row at FHSU Soccer Stadium. They actually tied in the home opener of 2017 season, so they haven't lost in two full seasons on their home pitch. While catching Pfeifer's all-time mark of 34-straight home wins is out of reach for the 2019 season, Fort Hays State should run the table at home and jump into fifth place on the all-time list.
|34||Pfeiffer *||Sept. 20, 2014||Sept. 20, 2017|
|32||Cal State L.A.||1982 #||1986 #|
|31||Southern Connecticut State||Oct. 30, 1994||Oct. 15, 1997|
|28||LIU Post *||Nov. 6, 2013||Nov. 17, 2016|
|24||Southern New Hampshire||Sept. 2, 1988||Sept. 17, 1990|
|24||Lynn||Oct. 6, 2000||Sept. 18, 2003|
|23||East Stroudsburg||Nov. 8, 1998||Sept. 25, 2001|
|23||Midwestern State||Oct. 2, 2009||Oct. 21, 2011|
|20||Southern Connecticut State||Sept. 3, 1990||Oct. 23, 1991|
|20||Seattle Pacific||Sept. 30, 1993||Oct. 22, 1994|
* No longer a DII institution | # From the official NCAA record book, no dates provided
Fort Hays State has eight home games on its regular-season slate. If the Tigers continue to dominate at home and sweep the schedule, they'll be tied at fifth all-time with 24. Standing in their way will be No. 22 Northeastern State in a Sept. 19 showdown between the top two offenses from 2018. If Fort Hays State gets around River Hawks, there are no preseason ranked top 25 teams in its path to history.