Depth favors SLU, BC and USF

6. Saint Louis (12-2-5).
Last year: The Billikens made their record 44th NCAA Tournament appearance and claimed the Atlantic-10 regular-season title.
This year: SLU returns its top six scorers, including 2007 A-10 Offensive Player of the Year Kyle Patterson. In addition, fellow Englishman Calum Angus, the 2007 A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, is one of several key members of the Billikens' tough defense. Three other all-regional players are back: senior forward Dado Hamzagic, senior midfielder Eric Sweetin and junior defender Tim Ream.

First Three Weeks
8/29 San Diego (LMU Fall Classic)
8/31 at Loyola Marymount (LMU Fall Classic)
9/5 UC Riverside (Creighton Diadora Challenge)
9/7 Portland (Creighton Diadora Challenge)
9/13 Connecticut

7. Boston College (15-5-1).
Last year: BC ran away with both the ACC regular-season and tournament titles.
This year: Eagles coach Ed Kelly returns nine starters, including first-team All-American Alejandro Bedoya. Senior Chris Brown has developed into one of the nation's most imposing goalies, while Shawn Chin is coming off a tremendous freshman campaign. A setback for the Eagles' national title hopes was the loss of Reuben Ayarna, who gave up his senior year of eligibility to sign with Swedish club GAIS in July.

First Three Weeks
8/29 Boston University
9/1 at Providence
9/5 Villanova (adidas-Brown Classic)
9/7 St. John's (adidas-Brown Classic)
9/12 at Maryland

8. South Florida (14-6-2).
Last year: Despite its fourth-place finish in its Big East division, USF made a surge late and advanced to the NCAA Tournament third round before falling to Connecticut.
This year: On paper, South Florida, picked to win the Big East's Blue Division, is one of the deepest teams in the country with Trinidadians Yohance Marshall and Kevon Neaves and forward Jordan Seabrook (who also stars as a hurdler on the track & field team) all returning. Venezuelan midfielder Bernardo Anor is coming off a strong freshman season during which he scored seven goals and two assists.

First Three Weeks
8/30 Bowling Green
9/5 Indiana (Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament)
9/7 at Notre Dame (Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament)
9/13 FIU

9. Creighton (12-3-5).
Last year: Creighton went unbeaten (4-0-2) in the Missouri Valley for the first time since 1996 and advanced to its 16th straight NCAA Tournament, where it reached the third round.
This year: With the return of Byron Dacy, who sat out last season with a medical redshirt season due to a torn ACL, the Bluejay attack looks formidable. Seniors Andrei Gotsmanov (team-high 17 points), Seth Sinovic and Tim Walters will look to lead the Bluejays. A pair of redshirt freshmen, Brian Holt and Nick Goldreich, are battling to replace keeper Matt Allen, who signed a three year deal with Bryne in Norway.

First Three Weeks
8/29 Gonzaga
9/5 Portland (Diadora Challenge)
9/7 UC Riverside (Diadora Challenge)
9/13 UMKC

10. Notre Dame (14-5-5).
Last year: Notre Dame made its second straight appearance in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament. The Irish posted a record of 7-0-4 in Big East play and tied Connecticut for a share of the Blue Division title.
This year: Joe Lapira, the 2006 Hermann Trophy winner, is gone, but seven starters return. The defense is solid with defenders Matt Besler and Jack Traynor. Senior Andrew Quinn has the starting job in goal to himself. Midfielder Matt Armstrong will take on a bigger role in his second year as a starter. Fellow sophomores Jeb Brovsky and Josh Thiermann have shown promise in preseason.

First Three Weeks
8/29 Akron (adidas/IU Credit Union Classic)
8/31 Duke (adidas/IU Credit Union Classic)
9/5 Dartmouth (Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament)
9/7 South Florida (Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament)
9/11 Marquette

11. UCLA (9-9-3).
Last year: For the first time in 41 years as an NCAA varsity sport, the Bruins failed to have a winning season.
This year: The Bruins would prefer to look back at the 2006 season when a postseason run propelled them into the Men's College Cup final against UCSB. Six starters from the '06 team remain: Brad Rusin and Sean Alvarado on defense, Kyle Nakazawa, Michael Stephens and Jason Leopoldo in midfield and David Estrada up front. Add to that group U.S. U-20 goalie Brian Perk in goal and senior forward Maxwell Griffin, and they form one of the nation's top group of upperclassmen. The freshman class is led by diminutive Eder Arreola, who arrives from U.S. U-17 residency.

First Three Weeks
8/29 Maryland (in Carson, Calif.)
8/31 UC Riverside
9/5 at Wake Forest (Deacon Fall Classic)
9/7 North Carolina (Deacon Fall Classic)
9/12 Indiana

12. Akron (15-4-2).
Last year:  The Zips posted the fourth-highest win total in school history and swept both the Mid-American regular-season and tournament titles.
This year: With his freshman and sophomore classes and '09 commitments, Caleb Porter may be the nation's top recruiter, helping propel Akron into a national contender. Former U.S. U-17 defender Kofi Sarkodie heads the freshman class; Englishman Steve Zakuani and Anthony Ampaipitakwong return for their sophomore seasons. All-MAC picks Evan Bush in goal and Ossie Michalsen on defense provide senior leadership. They have been starters for the last three years during which the Zips have posted the best winning percentage in the nation.

First Three Weeks
8/29 Notre Dame (adidas/IU Credit Union Classic)
8/31 at Indiana (adidas/IU Credit Union Classic)
9/5 West Virginia (Akron Tournament)
9/7 Cincinnati  (Akron Tournament)
9/12 at New Mexico (Nike Invitational)
9/14 Missouri State (Nike Invitational)

13. Brown (15-2-1).
Last year: The Bears won their 19th Ivy League title with a perfect 7-0-0 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 23rd time.
This year: Brown returns everyone but Ivy League Player of the Year Matt Britner and top scorer Kevin Davies. Goalie Paul Grandstrand and Rhett Bernstein anchor a solid Bears' defense. Up front, Brown will be led by Canadian Dylan Sheehan, a first-team All-Ivy selection who scored 10 goals, including four game-winners.

First Three Weeks
9/5 St. John's (Adidas-Brown Classic)
9/7 Villanova (Adidas-Brown Classic)
9/12 Furman (Nike/Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic)
9/14 at College of Charleston (Nike/Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic)

14. SMU (14-5-2).
Last year: Despite being upset by FIU in the first round of the Conference-USA Tournament, the Mustangs extended their streak of reaching the NCAA Tournament to 14 consecutive years.
This year: Tim McClements takes over for Schellas Hyndman, who left after 24 years to become the head coach of MLS's FC Dallas. Brazilian Bruno Guarda left in late July to join Hyndman at FCD. Dane Saintus, Richard Oliva and Scott Geppert, who combined for 20 goals, return. Defender Ryan Mirsky will start for the four year in a row.

First Three Weeks
8/29 Old Dominion (UVa Classic)
8/31 at Virginia (UVa Classic)
9/5 Stanford Cal Legacy Classic
9/7 at California Cal Legacy Classic
9/12 George Mason (SMU Mi Cocina Classic)
9/13 Oakland (SMU Mi Cocina Classic)

15. Massachusetts (17-8-1).
Last year: UMass came out of nowhere to win the Atlantic-10 Tournament and reach the Men's College Cup for the first time.
This year: The Minutemen have lots of experience with their top six scorers and Soccer America MVP first-team goalie Zack Simmons back.  Chris Brown will be anchor the UMass backline with the departure of Kenny Cook. Mike DeSantis has started the last 45 consecutive games for UMass in the central midfield and scored the go-ahead scores against Boston College and UIC in the NCAA Tournament. Bryan Hogan (8 goals) is UMass' top returning scorer.

First Three Weeks
8/29 at Holy Cross
8/31 at Boston University
9/6 Siena
9/12 at Old Dominion (Old Dominion Stihl Classic)
9/14 William & Mary (Old Dominion Stihl Classic)

16. Harvard (12-4-2).
Last year: The Crimson returned to the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time but was upset by Central Connecticut State, 3-2.
This year: Jamie Clark, son of Notre Dame coach Bobby Clarke, takes over for John Kerr Jr., who was named the Duke head coach. Kerr left behind eight returning starters, led by All-Americans Andre Akpan, the nation's second-leading scorer with 37 points on 14 goals and nine assists a year ago, and Michael Fucito, who was second on last year's Crimson team with 11 goals and seven assists for 29 points.

First Three Weeks
9/5 at Durham
9/7 N.C. State
9/12 at Fairfield
9/14 Vermont

17. Northwestern (12-5-3).
Last year: Northwestern fell to Ohio State in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament and was beaten by Chicago rival UIC, 2-0, in the NCAA Tournament.
This year: The Wildcats return nine starters, including Carl Pett, who was a first-team All-Big Ten pick a year ago, and Piero Bellizzi, Mark Blades and Misha Rosenthal, who were all second-team selections.

First Three Weeks
8/29 San Francisco
8/31 IUPUI
9/5 Iona (Lafayette Classic)
9/7 at Lafayette (Lafayette Classic)
912 Eastern Illinois (NIU/adidas Baymont Inn Invitational)
9/14 Xavier (NIU/adidas Baymont Inn Invitational)

18. Virginia (12-8-2).
Last year: Virginia was 7-7-2 over its last 16 games and finished with a 1-5-2 record in the ACC. The Cavs fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
This year: Virginia's losses included its top two scorers, German Yannick Reyering, whose eligibility expired, and Chris Tierney, who is playing for MLS's New England Revolution. Cav Jonathan Villanueva will need to put aside a disappointing season. Freshman Chris Agorsor was the Player of the Year in last season's U.S. Soccer Development Academy. If Villanueva, Agorsor and Ross LaBauex catch fire, the Cavs could be back in the national hunt.
First Three Weeks
8/29 St. John's (UVa Classic)
8/31 SMU (UVa Classic)
9/5 at George Mason
9/7 Hofstra
9/13 at VCU  

19. New Mexico (12-5-2).
Last year: The Lobos won their fourth straight Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title and finished with the best winning percentage in the country over the last four years.
This year:  UNM returns eight starters and five of its top six scorers. Leading the returners is 2007 MPSF Player of the Year Chris Wright (12 goals, 4 assists). Also returning are defenders Simon Ejdemyr, a two-time All-MPSF first-team pick, and Zach Tierney. Topping the list of newcomers are U.S. U-20 midfielder Michael Green and UConn transfer Euan Holden, younger brother of U.S. Olympian Stuart Holden.

First Three Weeks
8/29 at Loyola Marymount
8/31 San Diego
9/5 Michigan State (TLC Plumbing & Utility Invite)
9/7 Louisville (TLC Plumbing & Utility Invite)
9/12 Akron (Nike Invitational)
9/14 Cal Poly (Nike Invitational)

20. Virginia Tech (14-4-5).
Last year: The Hokies upset Connecticut in Storrs to advance to the Men's College Cup for the first time.
This year: Eight starters are gone. Considering the Hokies lost Patrick Nyarko to MLS's Chicago Fire, four one-year exchange students from Europe and three other starters, this should be down year, but Coach Oliver Weiss has recruited two German defenders and three Ghanaians to rebuild his attack. In his first outing, Ghanaian freshman Phil Aseweh set up up returning starter Charlie Campbell for both goals in a 2-0 preseason win over George Mason.

First Three Weeks
8/29 at Portland (UP Nike Invitational)
8/31 Washington (UP Nike Invitational)
9/5 Hofstra (Hawthorn Suites Hokie Invitational)
9/7 Xavier (Hawthorn Suites Hokie Invitational)
9/12 Duke
9/14 at St. John's

21. UIC (13-6-6).
Last year: UIC won the Horizon League championship and went on to advance to the NCAA elite eight for the first time in school history, earning Coach John Trask a four-year contract extension.
This year: Serbian goalie Jovan Bubonja, a second-team Soccer America MVP selection as a sophomore, and seven other starters return. One of the key players is junior midfielder Ian Sarachan, son of veteran coach Dave Sarachan. Trask is counting on big seasons from first-year players Paul Kopec, who transferred from the defunct Western Kentucky program, and Julian Serrato, a freshman forward from Boca Raton, Fla.

First Three Weeks
8/29 UMKC
9/1 Santa Clara
9/5 at UAB
9/7 at Alabama A&M
9/12 at Michigan (Michigan Invitational)
9/14 Michigan State (Michigan Invitational)

22. UC Santa Barbara (13-4-4).
Last year:  The Gauchos won their fifth Big West championship in the last seven years and qualified for a sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament.
This year: UCSB had three players -- Eric Avila, Ciaran O'Brien and Andy Iro -- taken in in the first 19 picks of the MLS SuperDraft. Also not returning is goalie Bryant Rueckner. Returnees including senior forwards Chris Pontius, the 2007 Big West Offensive Player of the Year, and Nick Perera, the 2006 College Cup Most Outstanding Offensive Player, and midfielder Alfonso Motagalvan, a first-team All-Big West pick in 2007. UCSB is counting heavily on freshman Bryan Dominguez and Danny Barrera to take over in its depleted midfield.

First Three Weeks
8/29 Air Force
9/5 Kentucky (at Loyola Marymount)
9/7 at Loyola Marymount
9/12 at Rutgers
9/14 at Columbia

23. California (12-6-4).
Last year: The Bruins claimed their second straight conference crown and seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
This year: Cal lost four players from 2007 but retains a talented group led by junior goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who was an NSCAA first-team All-American after playing in every minute of every game last season. Also returning are sophomores Andrew Wiedeman, a 2007 Soccer America All-Freshman first team pick, and Davis Paul.

First Three Weeks
8/29 UC Riverside
8/31 Maryland (at Los Angeles)
9/5 Cornell (Cal Legacy Classic)
9/7  SMU (Cal Legacy Classic)
9/12 at Santa Clara

24. North Carolina (7-8-5).
Last year: North Carolina had its first losing season in 50 years.
This year: The Tar Heels will be led by last year's top scorers, Bill Dworsky and Michael Callahan, and six other starters and welcome an incoming class that features U.S. U-20 Sheanon Williams. Also arriving are three other former U.S. U-17 residents Billy Schuler, Kirk Urso and Alex Dixon.

First Three Weeks
8/29 Florida International (Carolina Nike Classic)
8/31 VCU (Carolina Nike Classic)
9/5 South Carolina (Deacon Fall Classic)
9/7 UCLA (Deacon Fall Classic)
9/12 N.C. State

25. Central Connecticut State (10-9-3).
Last year: CCSU enjoyed arguably the best season in school history, becoming the first four seed to win the Northeast Conference Tournament and defeating Harvard, 3-2, and Tulsa, 3-2, in the NCAA Tournament.
This year: Most of the key components return, notably senior David Tyrie, the 2007 NEC Defensive Player of the Year, and Yan Klukowski, also a three time All-NEC honoree and the NEC assist leader for the second year in a row. Transfers Hadji Diop, Shane Edgley and Raphael Guimaraes should contribute immediately.

First Three Weeks
9/2 at Holy Cross
9/5 St. Bonaventure
9/5 at Hartford
9/12 Vermont

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