ACC Men’s Soccer Grows To Twelve
One can make the case that the Atlantic Coast Conference was the top men’s soccer conference in the country. Seven of last year’s nine teams earned berths in the NCAA tournament.
With the addition of Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh this fall, the league grows to 12 men’s soccer programs.
Combined, those 12 teams have secured an amazing 196 all-time NCAA tournament berths, and won 15 national titles. As many as eight could be contenders for #16 in 2013.
University of Maryland
This will be the Terps’ last year in the ACC before moving to the Big Ten Conference in 2014. Coach Sasho Cirovski’s squad should go out with a flourish, perhaps with a national title.
Back to lead the Terps is 2012 Hermann Trophy winner, forward Patrick Mullins, who finished his junior year with 17 goals and 10 assists. Eight starters return, including key defenders Dakota Edwards and Mikey Ambrose.
Cirovski brought in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, led by U-20 MNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Two other freshmen who will compete for starting positions are DC United Academy product Suliaman Dainkeh and center back Alex Crognale, who Cirovski has compared with former Terp Clarence Goodson, a member of the U.S. national team.
Maryland’s 2.67 goals per game average was best in the country last fall, and the return of Mullins and preseason All-American Schillo Tsuma means the Terps offense should not miss a beat.
University of North Carolina
The Tar Heels are ranked #4 in the NSCAA preseason poll. They were ACC tournament finalists and NCAA quarterfinalists a year ago. The Heels lost three players to MLS, but UNC had coach Carlos Somoano has brought in an outstanding freshman class, including defenders Colton Storm and Jalen Markey, the latter a U.S. U-18 player.
Another newcomer who would step into the midfield right away is Jamaican U-17 captain Omar Holness. SMU transfer Tyler Engel should also step into one of the midfield spots.
The ‘Heels return defender Boyd Okwuonu and forwards Andy Craven and Rob Lovejoy. Lovejoy missed the first half of last season with an injury, but finished with five goals.
University of Notre Dame
The Irish are coming off possibly the greatest men’s soccer season in the program’s history, but they lose Ryan Finley and Dillon Power, both now in MLS.
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