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Zach Pekale | NCAA.com | September 24, 2019

College soccer rankings: Wake Forest falls, Stanford is new No. 1 in men's poll

Men's soccer plays of the week

After three weeks at the top of the United Soccer Coaches poll, Wake Forest ceded the No. 1 ranking following its first loss of the season — a 1-0 defeat at James Madison.

The Demon Deacons' loss came on Sept. 17, putting the top spot up on the market for nearly the entire week between polls. None of the remaining top-5 teams dropped a game.

Stanford, formerly second in the rankings, capitalized by winning its lone match — a 2-1 victory at California to open Pac-12 play and stake its claim for No. 1.

SCOREBOARD: Keep track of the day-to-day men's soccer action

The Cardinal become the third team to sit atop the poll this year, joining Maryland and Wake Forest. This is their first No. 1 ranking since the 2018 preseason poll.

Behind Stanford, Georgetown moved up one place to No. 2. Virginia and Clemson, both sporting perfect records, passed Indiana in the pecking order while the Hoosiers round out the top 5.

Here's how the rest of poll shapes out.

Rank School PrevIOUS Points Record
1 Stanford (19) 2 660 6-0-0
2 Georgetown (3) 3 641 6-0-0
3 Virginia (4) 5 619 6-0-0
4 Clemson 7 562 7-0-0
5 Indiana (1) 4 549 4-0-2
6 Saint Mary's 6 539 7-0-0
7 Wake Forest 1 507 6-1-0
8 SMU 8 490 7-0-0
9 St. John's 9 466 7-0-0
10 Washington 12 426 7-1-0
11 Charlotte 10 392 4-0-2
12 UCF 13 378 5-1-1
13 Cal State Fullerton 14 337 7-0-0
14 North Carolina 11 328 4-1-2
15 New Hampshire 18 245 5-0-2
16 Florida International 22 231 5-0-2
17 Louisville NR 195 3-1-2
18 Virginia Tech 17 177 5-2-0
19 Missouri State NR 156 6-0-0
20 James Madison NR 134 5-2-0
21 Notre Dame 16 124 3-2-1
22 Rutgers 24 117 5-0-2
23 Kentucky 21 101 3-1-2
24 Loyola Marymount NR 90 5-1-1
25 Navy NR 55 7-0-0

Wake Forest’s drop to No. 7 doesn’t come as much of a surprise. What stands out from that match is James Madison looking more like the team that began the year in the top 20 rather than the one that opened the season losing back-to-back matches.

St. John’s was the other team in the top 10 to record a loss last week. The Red Storm opened Big East play with a promising win over then-No. 19 Xavier. However, St. Johns then lost in a double-overtime to Maryland, conceding the winning goal with 101 seconds to go. The Red Storm hold at No. 9.

WEATHER THE (RED) STORM: Maryland downs St. John's in double-overtime

In addition to Wake Forest, three more ranked ACC programs added to the loss column.

Formerly ranked No. 15, Duke lost for the third time in as many matches. The Blue Devils went into Clemson looking to right the ship after losses to Virginia and Southern Methodist. Instead, the Tigers outshot Duke 22-5 in a 3-1 win for the home side. Duke tumbles out of the rankings, receiving the most votes of any unranked team.

In a matchup of top-20 teams, Notre Dame was bested by North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Fighting Irish have played a tough stretch as of late against Clemson and on the road at Indiana and UNC. They fall to 0-2-1 in their previous three matches and land at 21 in the new rankings.

With one win already secured for the week, Virginia Tech was likely on its way into the top 15, nursing a 1-0 lead late at Louisville. But the Hokies couldn’t hold on. The Cardinals scored twice in the final 10 minutes to prevail. Still, Virginia Tech rises one spot.

Biggest risers

Florida International had the largest week-to-week improvement of a previously ranked team, moving up six spots to No. 16. The Panthers went 1-0-1 last week, picking up a 5-0 win over Old Dominion.

Five new teams enter the poll with Louisville holding the highest rank among them. The Cardinals picked up their second win over a ranked opponent in that 2-1 victory over Virginia Tech.

The largest movement overall comes from James Madison, re-entering the poll at No. 20 after not receiving votes a week ago. Manuel Ferriol’s second-half free-kick was the lone goal in a 1-0 win over then-No. 1 Wake Forest. Additionally, T.J. Bush denied Bruno Lapa from the penalty spot in the 76th minute to preserve the upset.

With JMU on a five-game winning streak, here’s a gentle reminder that the Dukes were quarterfinalists at the 2018 NCAA tournament and appear to be picking up steam.

The other newcomers are: Missouri State (19), Loyola Marymount (24) and Navy (25).

Dropped out

Five teams fell out of the top 25 this week: Duke (15), Xavier (19) West Virginia (20), Cal State Northridge (23), Maryland (25).

Looking ahead

Coming off its first loss of 2019, Wake Forest will need to turn the page quickly. The No. 7 Demon Deacons have a top-10 showdown looming with No. 4 Clemson. The Tigers could put their perfect record on the line in Winston-Salem on Saturday, following a Tuesday home match with Furman.

Louisville is back in the rankings at No. 17. The Cardinals have not yet been in back-to-back polls  this season. To do so, they’ll have to put together a strong performance against No. 2 Georgetown. The Hoyas play in Louisville on Tuesday.

Three straight losses knocked Duke from No. 2 to unranked. Nothing kickstarts competitive fire quite like a rivalry and the Blue Devils face their biggest rivals this week. No. 14 North Carolina hosts Duke on Friday. 

Notre Dame has played three straight teams currently ranked in the top 15. The Fighting Irish have a 0-2-1 record in such games with a fourth consecutive top-15 opponent on the schedule this week. No. 3 Virginia will look to uphold its perfect record at No. 21 Notre Dame on Friday.

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