September 17, 2012

Week 3 Flybys

By Christan Shirk

In what may or may not be a regular feature this season, we will run down a variety of results from across the nation, "flybys" if you will, with comments that hopefully are informative, insightful, and interesting.  The intent is to give snapshots of the D-III soccer landscape, covering top teams and important high profile matches but also going off the beaten path as much as possible as we criss-cross the country.

Susquehanna (6-1-0) was so close to moving to 7-0 when they outshot Penn St.-Altoona 12-5 through regulation and the first overtime.  They also put more shots on frame (6-2) and had all the corner kicks (14-0), but they couldn't find that important lone goal and paid the price when they tired in the second overtime period.  The home team grabbed the upperhand and sent the Crusaders home empty-handed after scoring the sudden-victory goal in the 108th minute.

• After missing the Centennial Conference playoffs last season, the same was predicted for Swarthmore this year by the conference coaches whose preseason vote landed the Garnet just a sixth-place tie.  But four decent non-conference wins and a road win over flavor-of-the-month, Franklin & Marshall, to open conference play suggests that Garnet (5-0-0) will be more formidable than expected. We'll know very soon; they now face Stevens, Dickinson, and Muhlenberg in their next three matches.

Tufts (3-0-0) has gotten off to a 2-0 start in NESCAC play after earning a 2-1 road victory at Wesleyan Saturday.  The Jumbos twice beat a Wesleyan defense that was expected to be very stingy again in 2012.

• At the least, it won't be an undefeated run to the NJAC title this time around for Rutgers-Camden.  Saturday, in the battle of the Rutgers, Newark came out on top, defending their early goal against the second-half pressure (12 shots, 6 on frame, 8 corner kicks) from the Scarlet Raptors.

Penn State-Behrend (5-1-0), who grabbed the AMCC title away from regular season champions Medaille in 2011, might be ready to fight it out again for the conference championship.  The have won five straight after a season-opening loss, picking up a pair of 3-0 shutout wins this week.

Baldwin-Wallace has also recovered from a loss in their season-opener to win five straight.  The Yellow Jackets downed Case Western and Grove City this week to add to their wild 5-3 win at Carnegie Mellon the previous weekend.

• The American Southwest Conference (ASC) race might be as open as ever.  Texas-Tyler has not coped well with the loss of two All-Americans, falling at East Texas Baptist Thursday and to 3-3-0 overall with Sunday's loss at Hendrix.  East Texas Baptist, who has never factored in the ASC championship race, are surprise co-leaders with Texas-Dallas two games into conference play.  Texas-Tyler was the coaches' preseason pick for the conference title; East Texas Baptist only placed 9th.

• After a two-week cakewalk spotted Montclair State a 4-0-0 start to the season, the Red Hawks finally had to start proving themselves this past week and their perfect record survived.  First they slipped past Rowan 2-1 in NJAC opening action and then put in an efficient if not dominate performance (outshot 18 to 10, but put 7 of 10 on frame) at Mary Washington for the 2-0 win.

• Two Empire 8 teams have jumped out to perfect starts, and neither is named Stevens.  Elmira (6-0-0) has played no one of note (Cazenovia was the toughest it got) and Nazareth's (5-0-0) 4-2 opening weekend victory over Brockport does little for their resume now that Brockport has slid to an unexpected 1-5 mark. So no reason yet to doubt that Stevens (4-2-0) will collect yet another conference title.  They steadied themselves somewhat this week with a pair 1-0 wins.

• With their only loss coming against fellow Top 25 team Carnegie Mellow, Ohio Northern has quickly racked up seven wins.  They go to Ohio Wesleyan this Wednesday aiming to defeat the Bishops for the first time since the 2008 season that saw the Polar Bears reach the Elite 8.

• Early indications are that the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) continues to be in a downcycle.  Lynchburg's surprising run to the title game in 2010 and Randolph's opening round upset of Christopher Newport notwithstanding, even the conference's better teams have struggled with their non-conference schedule in recent years and it's been a while since the ODAC has had multiple Top 25 quality teams.  Only one of the conferences twelve teams is over .500 after three weeks.  

Bridgewater (5-1-0) is the lone bright spot so far in 2012 for the ODAC.  The Eagles stole a game from Salisbury the previous weekend and this Saturday responded with three unanswered goals after going down by two early against ODAC-upstarts Randolph.

Trinity (Tx.) (6-0-1) might have loosened their grip on the No. 1 ranking with their tie at Redlands, but returning from California with a win and a tie is a job well done.  The Tigers now enter the SCAC home-and-home schedule with just two out-of-conference dates yet on tap in October.  An undefeated regular season could be in the cards.

• It will be interesting to see how the new conference on the block, Southern Atletic Association (SAA), shapes up both internally and relative to other conferences.  Both SCAC tournament finalists from last year, Oglethorpe (4-1-0) and Centre (4-2-0), are off to decent starts.  Former independent Berry is 6-0-0 after another 2-win week.  Hendrix (6-0-1), who typically finished in the middle to bottom-half of the SCAC, edged Texas-Tyler with a 3rd-minute goal to sweep the four ASC schools on their non-conference slate.

• What's up with the SUNYAC?  Brockport (1-5-0) has already lost more games in three weeks this year than all of last season.  Oneonta State (3-2-1) is struggling the pick-up where they left off in 2011.  Eight of the ten teams are on pace to do worse this year than last.  Removing the perfect Plattsburgh State (7-0-0), the SUNYAC is a combined 15-37-3 in non-conference play and given the rather soft schedule the Cardinals have played to date, it's difficult to say if they are really that much better than than their closest rivals.

Luther (4-1-2) was unable to stay undefeated against MIAC schools when they were done in by the accurate shooting of Carleton on Sunday.  The Norse followed up an opening weekend tie at St. John's with wins over St. Olaf, Macalester, and St. Thomas before Carleton netted 5 of 13 total shots (6 on goal) for the 5-2 win in an otherwise fairly even match.  The IIAC outfit gets a sixth go at an MIAC opponent this week when St. Mary's (Minn.) visits Decorah.

• There are still many perfect (20) and undefeated (14) teams out there to list them all.  Among some of the big names from the Top 25 are teams like Hood (2-0-2), Thomas (3-0-1), Penn State-Abington (3-0-0), Illinois Wesleyan (6-0-0), and Beuna Vista (4-0-1).  Brandeis (7-0-0) have bettered their 6-0 start to the 2010 season playing a similar slate of non-conference opponents, but the UAA gauntlet did them in that year as they eneded with just a 12-7-1 mark.


Comments or feedback for the author?  Email Christan Shirk.

Jim Matson, Christan Shirk, Ryan Harmanis, and other staff writers and contributors help cover the games and results across the nation.

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