It is another new soccer season for the men’s team here at USF, and they are already off to a strong start. Although it is only the preseason, the Dons have fought their way to a 4-2-0 overall record wins, and have picked up wins against three different ranked teams.
The Dons started the season with a victory in a scrimmage against UC Berkeley, which was ranked No. 7 at the time. The win was impressive, but did not count towards the team’s record. The Dons maintained the same intensity going into their next game, where they beat another ranked team, No. 21 Wisconsin.
Surprisingly, the Dons first loss came to an unranked opponent when they lost by a slim 0-1 margin to Illinois-Chicago. They rebounded, however, with three wins in a row against Cal State Fullerton, then No. 24-ranked Florida Gulf Coast, and Central Arkansas. USF couldn’t extend its winning streak to four in a row in its most recent matchup against Cal Poly, losing 2-1.
Much of the Dons’ success can be attributed to their new head coach, Eddie Soto, who was an assistant coach at UCLA last year when the Bruins were the top-ranked team in the nation. Along with Soto, four new staff members, including three assistant coaches, have been hired. The Dons also have 12 freshmen playing on the roster, ensuring that this Dons team will be much different than the squad that went just 4-7-1 in conference play last year.
Within the West Coast Conference, the Dons currently have the second best record and trail only Saint Mary’s, who has the same amount of losses but just one more win. Santa Clara is just behind USF in the standings with a 4-2-1 record. After that, the dropoff is steep; San Diego and Loyola Marymount both are 2-2 with four ties for the former and two for the latter. The teams with the three worst records so far all have one win apiece.
Based on this, the Dons should have a fairly easy WCC schedule. Their biggest matchups will be on the road against Saint Mary’s on Halloween, and at home versus Santa Clara in USF’s last game of the regular season on Nov. 15.
Overall, I predict that San Francisco’s WCC record will be 5-2, and that it will be among the top three teams in the conference. With the signature wins in the preseason against ranked teams, it is possible that the Dons could compete for a conference title.
Make sure to read the women’s soccer WCC look-ahead in next week’s issue of the Foghorn.