Chalk. Consistency. Stability. Call it what you will, but the dust seems to have settled toward the top of the United Soccer Coaches poll — at least temporarily. Virginia is No. 1 in the rankings for a third consecutive poll and no team in the top 15 lost last week.
Simple enough, right? Not quite.
Despite a lack of upsets, there was still plenty of movement and a highly anticipated newcomer — Marshall — in this week’s rankings. Here’s everything you need to know as the midpoint of the season nears.
After Virginia, Washington and Southern Methodist remain in place, keeping Nos. 1-3 intact. Indiana and Charlotte avoided losses but ties against Kentucky and Marshall weren’t enough to anchor their positions. The Hoosiers dropped two spots while the 49ers slid to No. 10. Instead Wake Forest, fresh off a win over then No. 20 North Carolina State, and Stanford round out the top 5.
Without a top-10 team losing, there was still some shuffling among those programs. St. John's moved up three spots to No. 7 while Central Florida dropped two to No. 11. That allowed Clemson to enter the top-10 as the Tigers improved to No. 8, passing Saint Mary's and Charlotte.
In the back half of the poll, three new teams joined the Top 25: No. 17 Santa Barbara, No. 21 Marshall and No. 24 Yale. The Gauchos haven’t lost since Sept. 7, proving to be a tough out in draws against Stanford and San Diego, most recently earning a win over Cal State Fullerton to jump into the rankings.
Marshall's spot in this week’s poll is especially noteworthy. Grinding out a scoreless tie with Charlotte is impressive. Returning to the poll for the first time in 18 years is an even bigger accolade. This is the Thundering Herd's highest ranking in program history and achieved it in their first ranking since Oct. 2001. Without a loss in Conference-USA, the Herd are an interesting fold to the C-USA mix after managing a point from the league’s highest-ranked team with matches against Kentucky and Florida International remaining.
Here’s the entire top 25:
|4||Wake Forest (1)||568||10-2-0||6|
|9||Saint Mary's (Calif.)||447||10-1-0||8|
|17||UC Santa Barbara||214||9-2-2||NR|
|23||North Carolina State||83||7-3-1||20|
Clemson, St. John's and Florida International each improved three spots as the three teams were a combined 5-0 last week. However, no team moved up more than San Diego. The Torreros surged seven spots to No. 16 after a win over San Francisco. The jump coincides with six teams previously ahead of San Diego losing over the past week.
The timing of this rise is opportune as San Diego plays at No. 8 Saint Mary's later in the week.
Duke (21), Virginia Tech (22), Cal State Fullerton (24)
Virginia, unblemished no more following a 1-1 draw in its last match, still holds a perfect record at home. To keep that up, the top-ranked Cavaliers host No. 18 James Madison at Klöckner Stadium on Tuesday. The Dukes have one win over a No. 1 team (Wake Forest) in 2019 and will try for a second in Charlottesville.
Florida International missed the NCAA tournament in 2018 and began this season unranked. Yet, here the Panthers are; ranked No. 12, unbeaten in league play and awaiting a chance to control of its own destiny. A win at home over Charlotte on Friday would put FIU in the driver’s seat of Conference-USA.
One. That's the number of losses Saint Mary’s and San Diego each have in 2019. It also represents the quantity of ranked opponents both sides have competed against this year. Sunday’s top-20 matchup in Moraga is a good midseason test for both teams, doubling as a crucial WCC tiebreaker for a league without a conference tournament.
Wake Forest got back on track following its second loss with wins in its next two fixtures, including a 3-1 decision over NC State. North Carolina is looking for answers after a high-scoring loss to a Syracuse team previously winless in ACC play. The Demon Deacons are 7-0 at home while the Tar Heels are 3-0 on the road. Something’s got to give when the two meet Friday in Winston-Salem.