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Charlotte gets competition from hot programs
by Paul Kennedy, September 20th, 2012 11:18PM

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[TRENDING NOW: Atlantic-10] One of the hottest conferences in the country is the Atlantic-10, where Charlotte, last year's Men's College Cup runner-up, is one of three teams in this week's Soccer America Top 25. In addition, newcomer VCU is unbeaten, and Saint Louis has turned things around after a sub.-500 season, only the second in its 53 years. Another team off to a fast start is La Salle, which has had only two winning seasons in the last 14 years but is 5-2-1.

CHARLOTTE. The 49ers have cut it close so far this season, going to overtime in five of their first seven games. They won on golden goals against Denver, Coastal Carolina and South Carolina and remain unbeaten (5-0-2) heading into Saturday's game against Southern Conference champion Elon. Charlotte is coming off a 1-1 tie at UNC Greensboro, but first-year head coach Kevin Langan liked the way his team held on. "We have had a tough stretch playing four games in eight days," he said, "so to come out of that stretch with a 3-0-1 record is fantastic."

XAVIER. The Musketeers are off to their best start ever, extending their unbeaten run to 5-0-2 with a 2-0 win over IPFW. They jumped to No. 16 -- three spots -- in the Soccer America Top 25, their highest ranking ever. Xavier opens a five-game homestand Saturday against Missouri State, which is coming off its first loss of the season.

DAYTON. The No. 20 Flyers swept games against Gardner-Webb and IPFW last weekend to improve to 6-1-0. They already have more wins than they had all last season when they went 5-13-1. Dayton ranks seventh nationally with an average of 2.86 goals per game. Its 20 goals are more than the 18 goals they scored last season. Junior Abe Keller and graduate student Eddie Jones rank in the Top 10 nationally in assists.

VCU. In their first season in the Atlantic-10 after moving over from the CAA, the Rams are 4-0-2, an excellent start given the losses they suffered. Yoram Mwila, a rising senior, was killed in a car crash in his native Zambia in June, and junior midfielder Jose Carlos Castillo signed a pro contract with Mexican club Jaguares in July. Tuesday's game against James Madison was called off because of bad weather, so the Rams will be off until next Tuesday when they open a four-game homestand against Virginia.

SAINT LOUIS. The Billikens knocked off previously undefeated Evansville, 4-1, Saturday night to improve to 4-2-0 -- a big turnaround from last season when they went 2-5-1 in non-conference play and finished 6-10-1, only the second sub.-500 season in their 53 years. "It was a big win for us," SLU head coach Mike McGinty said. Next up: Saturday at No. 11 Creighton.

LA SALLE. The Explorers, who have had only two winning seasons in the last 14 years, fell to 5-2-1 Thursday afternoon when they lost to Philadelphia Soccer Six rival Villanova, 2-1. Like Charlotte, La Salle opened the season with back-to-back overtime wins over Drexel and Loyola (Md.).



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