Ruminations returns for another season
Welcome back to Ryan’s Ruminations, D3soccer.com’s opinion column. I’m Ryan Harmanis, and for the past two seasons I have been writing weekly on a variety of Division III soccer topics. I played for Ohio Wesleyan from 2007 to 2010—just missing out on the 2006 Final Four and the 2011 national championship, of course—and I’ve followed D-III soccer ever since. I wrote recaps for a few years here before starting this column to bring something different to D3soccer.com’s coverage.
For those new to Division III soccer or D3soccer.com, we have a dedicated team of volunteers to cover the 2017 season. We post recaps, games to watch, weekly Top 25 rankings, bracketology, and detailed NCAA tournament coverage. We also have a daily scoreboard that has links to streaming games and stat feeds. If you want to know something in the D-III soccer world, this is the place to come.
But, as Christan Shirk noted, we’re going through a transition period, and my life is no different. I’m changing jobs next month and I blew out my knee playing soccer two weeks ago. Still, I’ll write this column every other week, and more often when my schedule and my health permit. Here’s what to expect in 2017:
(1) In-depth analysis of the 2017 season. I’ll cover the regular topics—contenders, surprise teams, big games—and try to hit interesting storylines when they pop up.
(2) Tactical thoughts. Last year we looked at pressing. This year I’ll cover some new ground. First up: penalties and penalty shootouts.
(3) Suggested changes for college soccer. Soccer is growing in popularity. But the game can always be better, and the college version is no different. I plan to offer a series of tweaks to improve Division III soccer and college soccer in general. I started last year with a column on college soccer’s odd substitution rules. I plan to finish that discussion and look at a few other changes the NCAA should consider.
(4) Feedback. Division III soccer is difficult to cover. Hundreds of teams play hundreds of games every week, so it’s unrealistic for us to cover everything. If you have a question about a specific game, team, or conference, or a D-III question in general, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will respond directly or, if there are enough questions, respond in a mailbag-style column.
Ryan’s Boxscore Top 10
Growing up, a friend’s mom worked for a big-time D-I football coach. Watching her compile his coaches’ poll ballot every week, I realized how little time coaches can afford to spend evaluating every team. The same is true for D-III polls. Most teams play on the same days and at the same times, so we can’t watch them all. Instead, we resort to simple questions: Who won? Who did they beat? What was the score? Were the stats lopsided? Who lost to (or tied) a bad team? Where was everyone ranked last week? With those questions in mind, here’s my current Top 10:
1. Tufts (3-0-0) – The defending champs always start at the top. Three shutout wins to start the season keep the Jumbos there.
2. Calvin (4-0-0) – Last year’s runner-up made the most of their non-conference schedule before the (unnecessarily) long MIAA slate. The Knights took down OWU, Case Western, and Oberlin. Remember those wins when Calvin resurfaces in November.
3. Rutgers-Newark (5-0-0) – Expectations are high for the Scarlet Knights, who set a program record for wins a year ago en route to the Elite Eight. Fabio De Sousa picked up where he left off, with four goals and two assists thus far.
4. Chicago (4-0-0) – Last year’s biggest NCAA disappointment (enjoy your bulletin board material) brought back the spine of its team for another go. The UAA will push the Maroons, but early results suggest Chicago is the favorite again.
5. Lycoming (5-0-0) – After a stunning 2015, complete with a double over Messiah, Lycoming crumbled against a daunting schedule in 2016. The schedule remains tough, but the Warriors seem ready for 2017. A 5-0 start and a road win over Rowan warrants a spot in the top five.
6. Trinity (Texas) (4-0-0) – With a West-heavy schedule, Trinity will be hard to gauge before the NCAA tournament. But it’s hard to argue they aren’t near the top. The Tigers opened the season by setting a NCAA record with their 45th straight home victory, then extended it to 46 with an entertaining 4-2 win over a strong Redlands team.
7. Amherst (1-0-0) – Coach Serpone has set the bar for sustained excellence over the past few seasons. The Mammoths (R.I.P. Lord Jeffs) have new faces and many players in new roles, but I expect the same level of success.
8. John Carroll (4-0-0) – The Blue Streaks made an early push to be labeled the best D-III team in Ohio by knocking off Kenyon. A 3-0 spanking of Medaille proved the win was no fluke. Another big week beckons, with games against Case Western and Ohio Wesleyan. But JCU is the clear favorite in the OAC this year.
9. Oneonta State – Coach Byrne and the Red Dragons look good so far, with solid wins over Stevens and RPI and a 3-0 job against a talented St. Lawrence team. Oneonta visits a motivated Vassar team Saturday and will have to avoid looking ahead to their SUNYAC showdown with Cortland State.
10. Haverford (3-0-1) – The Fords rode their luck a bit, but earned a spot by beating Messiah and then avoiding a letdown against Elizabethtown. Sophomore Nick Jannelli has five goals already, including both tallies against Messiah.
On the Bubble: Messiah (3-1-0), Scranton (4-0-0), St. Thomas (3-1-0), Kenyon (4-1-0), Rowan (4-1-0)
Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail Ryan Harmanis.