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AWARDS: Winners & losers, comebacks & setbacks
by Paul Kennedy, October 31st, 2008 8AM



There are three weekends left in the men's season before the NCAA Tournament bids are announced. Here's a look at the winners and losers and comebacks and setbacks so far ...

Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 15-0-1 and have averaged 3.5 goals a game. No team in recent years has dominated like the Deacs, who look to accomplish what no team has done since San Francisco in 1980 -- go undefeated and win the national championship outright.

Caleb Porter. The third-year Akron coach has built the reputation as one of the nation's top recruiters, and it has paid big dividends. The Zips are ranked second in part because of the sensational play of their freshmen and sophomores. Englishman Steve Zakuani leads the nation in scoring. Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Kofi Sarkodie and Teal Bunbury are just a few of Akron's other outstanding youngsters.

UC Davis. The Aggies made the NCAA Tournament in 2007, their first year of eligibility after beginning the transition from Division II to Division I status. In 2008, UCD may have the best team on the West Coast. It's led by senior Quincy Amarikwa, who has 15 goals in 16 games this season.

Loyola (Md.). The Greyhounds (14-0-1) have a long history -- they played the 1,000th game in their 66-year history earlier this fall -- but they are on course to have their best season as a Division I program. Their only other undefeated season came in 1971 when they went 16-0-0 and won the small-college regionals.

WCC. The West Coast Conference, which has produced such national champions as San Francisco and Santa Clara and other final four teams such as Portland and San Diego, is enduring its worst season in memory. San Diego is the top-ranked WCC team at No. 62 in the current RPI index. (Defending WCC champion Santa Clara has fallen all the way to 151!) The Toreros are the only team with a .500 record -- and that's only because they are 6-1-0 in conference play. They went 0-5-3 on non-conference play.

Virginia Tech. Last year, the Hokies advanced to the Men's College Cup, but heavy offseason losses -- notably Patrick Nyarko turned pro with one year of eligibility remaining, and four players were one-year exchange students -- proved to be too much. Tech fell to 5-10-1 when it lost to ... High Point, 2-1, last weekend.

UCLA. After only three wins in their first 12 games, the Bruins have gotten hot and won four games in a row -- all by shutout -- to take the lead in the Pac-10. UCLA has a nucleus of players remaining from the 2006 national runner-up team, but it has gotten a boost from its freshmen. Four played a majority of last Sunday's 1-0 win over Oregon State -- Englishman Andy Rose, Fernando Monge, Chris Cummings and Eder Arreola.

Corben Bone. The top recruit in the 2007 freshman class, Bone only had a minor role in Wake Forest's championship run because of a midseason hip flexor injury. He has put his injury problems behind and now leads the nation with 15 assists.

Neal Kitson. The New Yorker won the 2004 Division II title with Dowling, then transferred to St. John's, where he sit. Four years later, Kitson is playing again. He has a 0.39 goals-against average in leading the Red Storm to a 12-1-3 record.

O'Brian White. The Hermann Trophy jinx has struck again. Chris Gbandi won the Hermann Trophy as a junior  at Connecticut in 2001 but suffered a knee injury a year later. Joe Lapira won the award in 2006 with 22 goals for Notre Dame but also chose to return for his senior year and only scored nine goals. White scored 23 goals for UConn in winning the 2007 Hermann Trophy, but he only scored six goals in 14 games before being injured. He has yet to play again.

Chris Agorsor. The 5-foot-9 Agorsor entered Virginia as one of the most heralded freshman in recent years, but a knee injury sidelined him for the season after only seven games.

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