Two weeks into the 2021 DII women's soccer season and it looks eerily similar to how the last full season ended. The 2019 national semifinalists — Grand Valley State, Western Washington, Flagler and Saint Rose — are all unbeaten and in the top 10 in the country.
2021 STORYLINES: What we're watching early in the DII women's soccer season
Let's breakdown some of these teams and what we've seen two weeks into the season.
Grand Valley State hasn’t skipped a beat
For some reason, the defending national champions entered the season at No. 9 in the preseason rankings. This was coming after a 6-1-1 record in the spring and winning yet another GLIAC championship. Perhaps it was because the Jim Conlon head coaching era began on opening day, but whatever the case is, the Lakers appear to have taken it personally.
Heading into the third weekend of play, Grand Valley State is 4-0. The Lakers have outscored their opponents 14-2 and not only have a pair of top-25 wins already — but both victories came in shutout style. Kennedy Bearden and Greta DeLoach lead the way with eight points apiece, while starting keeper Callie Rich has allowed one goal in 242 minutes of play. Grand Valley State moved up to No. 2 in the latest poll and is doing just fine.
Undefeated Saint Rose inside the top 10 of DII women’s soccer
If Grand Valley State entering the season at No. 9 seemed surprising, then the complete omission of Saint Rose in the preseason top-25 was surely a shocker. Yes, this is a team that played only one game in the year of COVID, but the last time we saw the Golden Knights in 2019, they won their conference record-tying eighth title while rumbling to their fourth national semifinals in the past decade.
Now 3-0, Saint Rose sits at No. 3 in the latest rankings. The Golden Knights needed a pair of overtimes to stay perfect on Sunday, but also downed then-No. 8 Jefferson in a 4-0 shutout on opening weekend. Kaelyn Britt, who scored just five goals in the 2019 season, already has three goals in three games while freshman Katlyn Krupski has goals in back-to-back games. Saint Rose has one more non-conference game this weekend before opening its NE10 slate on quest for the conference-best ninth title.
No. 1 Flagler finding ways to win
The Saints entered the season on the heels of a magical 2019 season that saw them set the new standard for program success. They began the year at No. 1 and remain atop the top 25 with a perfect 3-0 record thus far.
But it hasn’t been easy.
After a 4-1 opening day win, the Saints have been involved in two nail biters, first defeating Lynn 4-3 in overtime and then Rollins 2-1 in double overtime. Keep in mind, Flagler reached overtime just twice in a 10-game slate in a dominant 8-0-2 spring. Both of those overtime games came against NCAA DII tournament regulars Columbus State, so if you don't have that game circled (Oct. 10) you probably should do so right now.
7 big risers in the latest poll
There was a major shakeup in the latest top 25 as seven new teams entered the mix.
- UC-Colorado Springs made the largest leap, jumping from receiving votes to No. 7. Despite dropping a game earlier in the season, the Mountain Lions have victories over then-No. 2 DBU and previously ranked Tampa.
- Molloy was perfect on the season when the Lions jumped from receiving votes to No. 14. They have since lost a game but check this out: Their first four victories came by a score of 1-0.
- Edinboro went from unranked to No. 16 after an upset of then-No. 14 Indiana (Pa.). The Fighting Scots remained perfect at 4-0 with a thrilling 1-0 double-overtime victory over PSAC foe Cal (Pa) on Wednesday.
- Limestone is back in the top 25 for the first time since 2018, jumping in at No. 21. The Saints outscored their opponents 11-0 in starting 3-0 before drawing 1-1 this past Wednesday to remain unbeaten.
- No. 22 Point Loma joins the party, sitting at 2-0. The PacWest preseason favorites get to put the national ranking to the test, squaring off against No. 8 Western Washington next Monday, Sept. 20.
- Ferris State jumped to No. 23. Despite dropping the season opener 1-0 to Findlay, the Bulldogs have been perfect since, going 3-0 while outscoring their opponents 12-0.
- And welcome Concord back to the top 25. The Mountain Lions are perfect on the season, but for some reason dropped out of last week's poll. A midweek 4-1 victory over West Virginia State should keep the Mountain Lions there this time.
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Impressive start for the Vikings
If you follow DII women's soccer, you know that Western Washington is a perennial threat for the title. The 2016 national champions are also the most recent national runners-up and went 4-1-2 this past spring. The Vikings are wasting no time putting themselves to the test.
Western Washington is now 2-0-1. Thus far, they played to a draw with No. 25 Colorado School of Mines and bumped off then-No. 5 and regional rival Sonoma State 2-1 on Sunday to jump 10 spots in the most recent poll. It doesn't stop for the Vikings, though, as this coming Monday they go head-to-head with No. 22 Point Loma before finally entering conference play. If the Vikings still don't have a loss on their record, you can go ahead and pencil them in as contenders to be playing the second weekend in December.