Washington’s path to the top spot in the United Soccer Coaches poll is unconventional. Then again, there are many facets to the newest No. 1 team that could be considered unorthodox.
Here’s what you need to know about this week’s top-ranked program.
The Huskies are the first team in 2019 to hold the No. 1 ranking after beginning the season outside the Top 25. Offensively, they have two or fewer goals in nine of 13 matches and just three players with double-digit points. Their defense has been consistent, but the goalkeeping is a platoon system, alternating between Sam Fowler and Bryce Logan.
Any one of those factors could derail a team. Not Washington. The Huskies are 12-1, winners of eight straight and have more shutouts (9) than goals allowed (6).
For Washington to move up, other teams had to falter. This past week, Virginia (1) and Southern Methodist (3) were dealt its first losses of the season as the Cavaliers slid to No. 6 while the Mustangs dropped nine spots. Behind Washington is Wake Forest, up two spots from a week ago, followed by Clemson, St. John’s and Stanford to round out the top 5.
Additionally, two other top-10 teams — Indiana and Charlotte— entered tallies in the loss column. The Hoosiers fell to Maryland while the 49ers were knocked off by Georgia State. Charlotte slid seven spots, replaced in the Top 10 by undefeated Missouri State. At No. 9, the Bears are one of three new teams in the Top 10 in addition to Georgetown (7) and UCF (8).
Here’s how the rest of the poll took shape.
|2||Wake Forest (3)||640||12-2-0||4|
|4||St. John's (2)||573||12-1-0||7|
|13||Saint Mary's (Calif.)||365||11-1-0||9|
|20||UC Santa Barbara||171||10-3-2||17|
In the back half of the rankings, two new teams joined the Top 25: Penn State and Virginia Tech. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten standings with only a few weeks remaining in the regular season. After receiving votes last week, No. 19 PSU jumps into the Top 25 following wins over Northwestern and Wisconsin. It's the first time the Nittany Lions are ranked since Sept. 2015.
Virginia Tech returns to the poll at No. 25 after a one-week absence and could have a chance to move up more if they beat Virginia later this week.
Overall, Virginia Tech and Penn State had the largest surges between polls. The two received a combined five votes last week and are now respectively ranked Nos. 25 and 19.
Among teams previously ranked, Marshall and Georgetown each rose six spots. At No. 15, this is the highest the Thundering Herd have ever been (breaking their record from a week ago). The Hoyas moved up to No. 7 ahead of their upcoming top-10 showdown with No. 4 St. John's.
Clemson and Missouri State moved up five spots apiece. The Bears own the only perfect record in Division I men's soccer and are now a top-10 team. The Tigers, after missing the NCAA tournament last season, moved up to No. 3.
James Madison (18), Navy (22)
Washington's first match as the No. 1 ranked team pits the Huskies defense against one of of the top offensive players in Division I. UW has allowed six goals in 2019 while UCLA's Milan Iloski has 15 alone. To stay on top, the Huskies will have to slow down Iloski and the Bruins when the two meet in Los Angeles on Thursday.
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Virginia had only conceded two goals this season before giving up a pair in 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh. Coming off their first defeat, the No. 6 Cavaliers will look to bounce back and can do so against in-state rival Virginia Tech. The Hokies return to the poll at No. 25, but it's not like rankings will matter much in Friday's rivalry match.
There are still a few weeks in the regular season, but Wednesday's match between Georgetown and St. John's could weigh heavily on the Big East come the postseason. The Red Storm and Hoyas are both top-10 teams and without a loss in conference play. St. John's also places its perfect home record on the line when they host Georgetown at Belson Stadium.