ACC Men’s Soccer
The 2016 season of ACC men’s soccer ended very differently than how it all began. In last year’s NSCAA Preseason Top 25, the conference started out with a total of 7 teams. And, instead of losing a few teams along the way, the Cardinals and Hokies jumped on board to finish in the top 10 at season’s end. That left a total of 8 teams and lots of chatter about what’s coming in 2017.
The team that early pollsters picked to finish atop the ACC, Clemson, stayed in the top 5 but was eclipsed by Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons headed to the NCAA Men’s Soccer College Cup Championship to face Stanford.
In one of the more exciting championship games in recent years both teams ended up deadlocked and headed to a shootout. Although Wake Forest missed a PK and fell to Stanford, 5-4, Ian Harkes walked away with the Most Outstanding Offensive Player award. Harkes is no longer there but the Deacs are loaded once again.
How did the NSCAA rank ACC teams for the 2016 preseason? Let’s take a look at that poll.
- #3 Clemson
- #5 Wake Forest
- #6 Syracuse
- #8 North Carolina
- #9 Notre Dame
- #11 Boston College
- #17 Virginia
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By the end of the 2016 season, the poll looked a bit different.
- #2 Wake Forest
- #4 North Carolina
- #5 Clemson
- #6 Louisville
- #8 Virginia Tech
- #11 Syracuse
- #13 Virginia
- #14 Notre Dame
- RV – Boston College
What will the 2017 season look like and what teams should we be keeping an eye on?
Let’s start with North Carolina where seven starters are slated to return. Keep in mind that the eventual champions, Stanford, just edged the Tar Heels out of the College Cup 10-9 on penalty kicks. The team will field a smoking offense bolstered by what was one of the top ranked defenses in the nation last season. That loss to the Cardinal is plenty of incentive to plow through competitors on their way to another postseason run.
Another team that has just the right amount of seasoning is Virginia. The Cavaliers fell to Stanford, 1-0. Last year’s young crew isn’t likely to forget being that close to holding a trophy. This team appears to be loaded. Almost everyone is back from last year’s squad. Across the board, Virginia can deliver on offense and defense which was illustrated in last year’s ACC Tournament. A year of seasoning can only make the team more potent.
ACC Nation Football Preview – Virginia
The Demon Deacons return seven starters though, as mentioned, they won’t have All American Ian Harkes. Even with the departure of Harkes and counterpart Jacori Hayes, the Deacs look as if they’ll have plenty of help at midfield. Defense doesn’t appear to be an issue but only time will tell on the offensive side.
Clemson started out in a good spot early but slid a bit during last season. With eight starters returning from last year’s team the Tigers look like a well balanced squad. Toss in a solid recruiting class and you should expect Clemson to be vying for a top spot in the conference.
The two surprise teams at the end of the season, Louisville and Virginia Tech, will start off the season ranked and with good reason.
The Cardinals may have a few soft spots that need filling but between seasoned returners and recruits the team will likely have a good season.
As for the Hokies, they return 9 starters from last season. The steady ascendancy of the program shouldn’t miss a step this year as solid performances on offense and defense appear to be a lock.
Look for the NSCAA Preseason Men’s Soccer Top 25 in early August and yet another solid year for ACC men’s soccer.