Mid-Atlantic Review, Week 3
By Phil Naegely
Capital Athletic Conference (CAC)
As a whole, the Capital Athletic Conference is off to a strong start ahead of conference play opening up this weekend. In a conference that sees six teams make their postseason tournament, there’s more margin for error than some conferences, but it’s still imperative to find key results that allow teams to control their own destiny.
Perennial NCAA Tournament participants, Christopher Newport, are off to a hot 7-0-1 start. Interestingly enough, half of their games have gone into overtime. Newport continued their fast start with a 2-0 win over Methodist and a 2-1 double-overtime victory over Greensboro.
Mary Washington (7-1-0) is riding a two-game win streak into their final non-conference game against Dickinson on Wednesday before opening CAC play on the road at Wesley. Off to their best start since 2006, the Eagles have recorded six shutouts on the year, while only allowing four goals. Three of those goals came in their September 12 loss to Stockton. Salisbury (5-1-0) started their season as many expected except for a shocking loss to Bridgewater (Va.)
While two teams are surging in non-conference play, York (Pa.) (2-4-1) have struggled early on. Like many perennial Top 25 and NCAA Tournament teams this year, the Spartans have failed to find a rhythm early on. York opened their season with a strong 4-1 win against Stevenson, but have since only won a single game in six played. The schedule only gets tougher from here with some challenging non-conference and conference games to round out their regular season.
Unlike much of the action within the Division III soccer scene, there hasn’t been many surprises amongst the Centennial Conference teams.
For the third straight season the Diplomats of Franklin and Marshall (7-0-0 / 1-0-0) are off to hot start and defeated Swarthmore in their conference opener. In recent years, Dan Wagner has helped the Diplomats soar to new heights and accomplishments leading them to two straight NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. They are the team to beat currently in the Centennial as they continue to surge up the national polls.
Gettysburg (5-0-1 / 1-0-0) is off to their own impressive start with a quality scoreless draw against Messiah and opening conference play with a 2-1 win over Ursinus. The Bullets are usually competitive within the conference, but have failed to reach the NCAA Tournament in 14 years. Is this the year the Bullets win the conference for a fourth time, or will it end like past years? We will find out as their conference schedule heats up moving forward.
Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC)
Neumann (1-4-1) is off to a slow start under first-year head coach Tim Hollenback. They have only scored one goal in their season opener win against Wesley. One of their four losses came against nationally ranked Salisbury.
Cabrini (5-1-2 / 1-0-0) currently leads the CSAC. Their lone blemish on the season, a 1-0 overtime loss, came against 2013 NCAA runner-up Rutgers-Camden. They recovered from the loss with a 1-1 tie against Alvernia and a 9-1 thrashing of Rosemont to open up conference play.
Commonwealth Conference teams have had their fair share of ups and downs to start the year.
Messiah College, favorites to win the Commonwealth in 2015, have struggled early on. With a successful senior class from a year ago moving on due to graduation, the Falcons' play has been marked by sloppiness, low scoring, and poor defense. At 3-2-1 after a shocking 4-2 home loss to Rowan, the Falcons have now allowed four goals twice in one season for the first time since 1992. It is also first time they gave up four goals on Shoemaker Field since their 4-0 loss to Wheaton (Ill.) in 1996. As non-conference play ends and Commonwealth action begins, the Falcons’ struggles has left the conference more wide open in a highly competitive conference.
Based on play so far in 2015, Lycoming (7-1-0) appears to be the early season favorites within the Commonwealth. Lycoming’s seven game winning streak is the second longest in Warrior history, only bettered when they won nine straight in 2003.
On the Freedom side of the MAC, Eastern (6-0-1) is riding a five-game winning streak since their game against Alvernia was stopped in the 80’ due to weather conditions. They currently sit atop the conference standings and their success so far has them receiving votes in the D3soccer.com Top 25 poll.
King’s (6-1-0) has built upon a successful 2014 campaign by winning six of their first seven games, including a victory over Arcadia on homecoming.
Elizabethtown (6-1-0 / 1-0-0) has taken the nation by storm. Their lone loss came against a strong Franklin and Marshall side that is also surging in the national scene. The Blue Jays are a dangerous team that have found the net often thus far. They should find success within the conference, region, and national scene if they can keep up their early triumphs.
Drew University (6-0-1 / 1-0-0) has yet to lose a game in their 2015 campaign. They opened Landmark play with a 2-1 overtime win against Juniata to stay undefeated. It will be interesting to see if Drew’s unblemished record continues once conference play gets into full-swing, but they look like contenders as this stage of the season.
North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC)
Keuka’s undefeated record was tested in NEAC play, but the Wolfpack prevailed with 3-2 wins over Lancaster Bible and Penn State-Berks this past week. From here on out, they only have conference matches left, so staying atop the conference standings is crucial to finding postseason success after their 5-0-1 start.
New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC)
Rutgers-Camden (6-1-1 / 2-0-0) found success in their first month of action and currently lead the NJAC standings. Granted, they’ve played the most conference matches amongst their conference peers, but they are finding quality results when they matter.
Stockton (7-1-0 / 1-0-0) and Rutgers-Newark (7-2-0 / 1-0-0) are the other NJAC teams who opened conference play with wins, and their out-of-conference play indicates that they will be around to compete down the stretch. The former’s success is coming under first-year head coach and 2001 National Champion Greg Ruttler.
Preseason favorites Montclair State are off to a 7-1-0 start and have yet to play a conference opponent. Their lone loss came this weekend at the hands of Oneonta State in a 2-1 loss
Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail Phil Naegely.