NCAA Soccer – Quick Mid-Major Non-Conference Reviews – Atlantic 10, Big West, MAAC, Mountain West, Patriot, Southland, Summit, SWAC, WAC, Great West

Atlantic 10

The preseason consensus was…

…Dayton was going to win the A-10 title in reasonably comfortable fashion, with Richmond and La Salle offering up the closest challenges to the Flyers. Solid seasons were also predicted for league newcomers VCU and A10 stalwarts UMass.

So how’s that working out?

Dayton, wildly enough, has rebounded back to the edge of the bubble after a rather fitful start to the new season. The new look defense had trouble stopping anybody, and wins over Boston University and Northwestern were then offset by losses to Central Michigan and DePaul. Once their at-large hopes dimmed though, Dayton seemed to play better, going into league play on the back of three straight wins. Though it sounds somewhat cruel, Becca Wann getting selected to the U.S. U20 team was all but a death sentence for the Spiders’ at-large hopes, and the club lost four in a row to open up the season. They’ve turned it around since, with four wins in five to close out non-conference play and are a great sleeper for A10 silverware now that Wann’s back. La Salle had a great opening win against West Virginia but has since faded, thanks mainly to a stretch of one win in four which saw the Explorers unable to come up big against tough opponents. They’ve won three in a row entering league play, but the overall quality of their wins has been dismal. VCU has been solid but unspectacular early on, opening with just one win in five but entering league play on a six match unbeaten run, including wins over William & Mary and Pittsburgh. UMass won just two of six to open the season in a tough non-conference stretch but entered league play having won three of four and as the league’s second ranked team in the RPI.

Any surprise packages?

VCU was supposed to be the A10 newcomer to impress right off the bat, but Butler hasn’t fared too badly for themselves. A win over Big Ten side Purdue has been the highlight, and the Bulldogs enter league play on the back of a 4-1-1 run. Old league power Charlotte has also done well for themselves despite a rather up and down start. A draw with Clemson showed the growth of the side, and the 49ers also entered league play on a 4-1-1 run. Both clubs probably won’t challenge for the title but could cause a few waves during the A10 Tournament.

Wooden Spoon Watch

The bloated A10 still has its share of strugglers, and the battle for the bottom could be a real tussle between a handful of clubs. A lot of the forward progress made by Saint Bonaventure was wiped out by a seven match winless run to open up the season, though they did manage to win three straight to close out non-league play and could improve still. George Washington and Duquesne both are with first year head coaches this season and have been making baby steps towards progress, with the latter having netted a huge draw with West Virginia. Likely joining the above in a battle to avoid the basement is Xavier, who had some lopsided results against fellow mid-majors but did finish out non-conference play on a three match unbeaten streak.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Colleen Williams – Dayton (7 G, 6 A)
2. Juliana Libertin – Dayton (7 G, 5 A)
3. Kelsey Haycook – La Salle (7 G, 2 A)

At the end of the day…

Dayton’s unyielding armada of offense likely makes them favorites to win the league as predicted at the beginning of the season, but their defense seems capable of an implosion every time they run up against a strong team. In a conference with the likes of La Salle and Richmond, that’s enough to give most UD supporters heartburn. It also should make for an extremely fun conference tournament, where a handful of clubs could walk away with the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Big West

The preseason consensus was…

…Long Beach State would end UC Irvine’s grip on the league title as a near unanimous favorite in the preseason coaches’ poll. Irvine still was favored to be a force in the league though, picked to finish second, and by a comfortable margin over the next tier featuring Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge.

So how’s that working out?

Well, there’s certainly no doubting who the top dogs in the Big West are this season. LBSU’s put together wins against Baylor and Michigan among others and have to be considered big favorites to win the league, especially with both UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge having to come play on the 49ers’ turf in their league meetings. Irvine’s paid the price for a very, very hard schedule, though defeats to the likes of Loyola Marymount and Oregon can’t be too pleasing for the Anteater faithful. The club looks like this year’s Portland as far as their NCAA Tournament hopes go. If they can finish at .500, they certainly have a shot. Cal State Northridge could be the league’s surprise team this season, after years of knocking on the door. Wins over Arizona State and Michigan, along with draws against Tennessee and Portland have the Matadors in with a fighting chance in the at-large bid race, though they now need some wins at this point. Fullerton are a distant fourth in the RPI rankings in the league having come close to upsets all throughout the season but having to settle for just a 1-0 win at Michigan State. They could yet be a factor in league play though.

Any surprise packages?

Not really. Northridge has perhaps been a little better than expected, but the top half of the league has otherwise really followed the projections most threw out at the beginning of the season.

Wooden Spoon Watch

The race to the bottom this season looks like it’ll be between UC Riverside and UC Davis, neither of whom was predicted to crack the top six in the league in the preseason poll. Davis got out to a good start, beating up on Mountain West and Wac sides en route to a four match unbeaten run but has since faded, with just two wins in six. The schedule wasn’t easy in stretches, but a draw with Sacramento State and loss to Cal State Bakersfield really hurt. Riverside began with a loss to Houston Baptist and draw with New Mexico State, though they’ve turned it around to a slight degree since. Still, their RPI sticks out like a sore thumb, and they may struggle to compete with the league’s best.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Tiana Fujimoto – Hawaii (6 G, 1 A)
T2. Nadia Link – Long Beach State (4 G, 3 A)
T2. Eileen Maes – Long Beach State (4 G, 3 A)

At the end of the day…

Long Beach State should prevail, especially given their home advantage against their closest two title rivals. They’re basically a lock for the NCAA Tournament at this point, and given the competitive nature of the top of this league, the Big West Tournament could be a bid thief’s paradise, as UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge try to burst a bubble somewhere. Ironically, UCI could play the role Long Beach has the past few years as the Big West team on the bubble winning the conference tournament to secure an auto bid into the Big Dance.

MAAC

The preseason consensus was…

…Marist would continue their recent revival and retain their MAAC title in relatively convincing fashion. The Red Foxes’ strongest challengers would be Fairfield and Loyola (MD).

So how’s that working out?

The Red Foxes had some rather difficult games on the schedule early but still showed their potential with back-to-back wins against Penn and Hofstra. But then, they hit a pretty rough patch, finishing out non-conference play with three shutout defeats in four games which sent their RPI on a downward spiral, though it’s still better than most of the rest of the league. Loyola (MD)’s been a picture of inconsistency early, having not come up with the same result in two straight games all but one time this year. The Greyhounds couldn’t have asked for a worse start with a draw against Howard, but they also beat Oakland and Delaware to save a little face. Fairfield’s been slightly disappointing, going into league play at just .500. The Stags’ were hardly anything to crow about, and the club’s best result in fact may have been the draw with Hartford. Considering Fairfield didn’t really play the most challenging non-conference schedule though, it’s still a little hard to judge how good they are.

Any surprise packages?

Rider, Rider, and Rider. The Broncos basically got no respect in the preseason poll but won their first four, though it was over some dubious competition to say the least. The Brconos then won just one of their next four, including an unexplainable draw with Delaware State, though they also managed to beat George Washington and draw at a solid Monmouth side. A title challenge isn’t expected, but getting to the postseason would be big for a deceptively talented squad. Siena’s also been a mild surprise, even at 4-5-0 to end non-conference play. They hung tight with Rutgers and UMass, while also upsetting NEC title contenders Quinnipiac earlier in non-conference play.

Wooden Spoon Watch

The gruesome twosome of Saint Peter’s and Canisius have been appallingly bad this season and may struggle to get above the three hundred mark in the RPI this year. The former has been unbelievably bad on defense this season, giving up an insane four goals a game thus far, and that’s with a very modest schedule out of league play. The fact that they’ve actually won a game seems like a mini-miracle, though the fact that they actually kept a clean sheet in the match might be more amazing, especially when they’ve given up multiple goals in every other match! Canisius’ defense has been bad, though not quite that bad. It’s been a depressing fall for the Golden Griffins on the whole though, as they had won thirty-seven combined games between 2008-2010 but now found themselves 2-8-0 before league play started. Wins over Cleveland State and Duquesne provided brief glimmers of hope, but it still looks like a hard season ahead in MAAC play.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Nichole Schiro – Loyola (MD) (6 G, 2 A)
2. Rycke Guiney – Marist (4 G, 2 A)
3. Chelsea Botta – Marist (4 G, 1 A)

At the end of the day…

Marist has a lot of talent, a lot of experience, and a whole lot of expectation given the above. The Red Foxes also have been there and done that though, having ruled the roost over the league last season, so a title chase shouldn’t faze them in the least this year. It remains to be seen if Rider can keep up their early season pace and whether Fairfield can get themselves in the title mix after a sluggish start to the season. It means Marist’s biggest challengers might end up being Loyola (MD), who has star forward Nichole Schiro to spearhead a formidable offense. For the Greyhounds to walk away with the league’s auto bid though, they’ll have to win it in Marist’s house, with the Red Foxes hosting the MAAC Tournament in November.

Mountain West

The preseason consensus was…

…New Mexico would edge out San Diego State for their third straight title, with Fresno State as a dark horse for honors in the league.

So how’s that working out?

The Lobos have taken a distinct backseat to SDSU, who has emerged as one of the nation’s best thus far in 2012. Most expected the Aztecs to be a much improved side with so much returning experience, but few likely envisioned just how much better they’d be. Wins over Arizona State, Pepperdine, and Minnesota, along with a draw against Santa Clara basically have the club in the Big Dance already, and they could rise to a national seed if they have a great league season. New Mexico got out to a customary slow start but turned things around by drubbing Texas and won six of seven going into league play, with that lone loss coming against Florida, who they put a rather big scare into. Kit Vela’s side is hitting their stride at just the right time and could yet have a role to play in the title chase. Fresno State’s not had a pleasant season thus far, starting out by losing to UC Davis and then taking their lumps against a pretty difficult non-conference schedule. They might be better than their 2-7-3 record would indicate, but it’s been tough going nonetheless.

Any surprise packages?

UNLV’s been unexpectedly spry for a club having gone through a late coaching change over the offseason. It took a while for the light to come on in Vegas, as they did lose to Hawaii and draw with South Dakota State but kickstarted their campaign with a 2-1 win over Oklahoma and haven’t looked back since, winning seven in a row going into league play. The Rebels probably aren’t title contenders, but they might just be able to throw up a shock or two, including in the Mountain West Tournament.

Wooden Spoon Watch

The assumption was Boise State was always going to struggle at this level, and they’ve done little to prove those assumptions wrong despite winning their first two games of the season. A stretch of one win in six sent them plummeting down the rankings, though the Broncos would respond well late in non-conference play, drawing with Utah in a shock result before stunning Penn on the road to give them a shade of momentum going into league play. Nevada has also underwhelmed a bit in non-conference play. The Wolfpack went winless in four after winning their opener but also came good a bit near the end of league play, winning three of four at one stretch, including an upset at TCU.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Jenn Wolfe – UNLV (9 G, 1 A)
2. Megan Jurado – San Diego State (8 G, 3 A)
3. Sara Paul – Wyoming (2 G, 10 A)

At the end of the day…

San Diego State probably has enough in the tank to see out the league season and break New Mexico’s string of titles this year. The Aztecs’ swarming defense and capable offense should see them be consistent enough to come out on top in the Mountain West and likely seal a national seed while they’re at it. The conference tournament? That could be a different story. New Mexico and UNLV will likely both be hungry to capture the league’s auto bid and could give bubble sides some headaches if they can spring an upset.

Patriot

The preseason consensus was…

…Colgate would emerge victorious and retain the league title they won by the narrowest of margins over Navy and Army last season. The two service academies were predicted to be right on the Raiders’ heels though, with little separating the trio in the eyes of the prognosticators.

So how’s that working out?

Well, the preseason poll certainly got it right in terms of who’d be in the best shape going into league play. Colgate’s below Navy in the RPI, but the Raiders also played a more ambitious schedule, with the likes of Syracuse and Washington on the docket. Colgate’s non-conference season though has been typified by a flowing offense but also a frail defense, with the club going into league play not having kept a single clean sheet. Navy has been one of the nation’s top mid-majors with a 11-1-0 record going into league play. The Midshipmen were pounded by Maryland in the opener but have won every game since. A lack of quality wins means that Navy will have to win the league’s auto bid if they want to go dancing however. Army’s been a bit more under the radar compared to their title rivals. The Black Knights did beat Seton Hall and Syracuse, but defeats to the likes of Stony Brook and UTEP have shown some of the inconsistencies that have plagued the club thus far in 2012.

Any surprise packages?

No, not really.

Wooden Spoon Watch

It’s a pretty thin line between mid-table and the bottom in the Patriot League, but Lafayette looks likeliest to finish in the basement this season. The Leopards’ wins have been over Howard, Saint Peter’s and Wagner, who’ve combined for just five wins this year. The club also has draws with NJIT and UMBC, hardly inspiring confidence in the season going forward. Lehigh’s been victim of a tough non-conference schedule and a bad defense and are 1-7-0 despite beating Marist by three goals for their only win thus far. American could also be in trouble after a 2-7-2 start in which they haven’t kept a single clean sheet with their only wins coming over lowly UMBC and Howard.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Ashlynn Soellner – Navy (9 G, 3 A)
2. Jillian Kinter – Colgate (8 G, 4 A)
T3. Chelsey Garkowski – Bucknell (7 G, 3 A)
T3. Morgan Dankanich – Navy (7 G, 3 A)

At the end of the day…

It’s pretty much a three horse race, between preseason favorites Colgate, Navy, and Army. The Midshipmen would seem to have the advantage given their gaudy record and explosive offense, but their numbers could be inflated a bit by their weak non-conference schedule. It should be an unpredictable and fun race to the title, with the Patriot League Tournament set to be as unpredictable as any in the country this November.

Southland

The preseason consensus was…

…for another Stephen F. Austin romp, with Lamar and Southeastern Louisiana likely coming closest to playing spoiler for the Ladyjacks.

So how’s that working out?

Pretty much as predicted. The Ladyjacks just look a class apart and have mostly throttled the weaker teams on their schedule while also beating Houston, TCU, and Rice. There were also close calls against LSU and Texas Tech that showed SFA could compete with a fair number of major conference schools on their day. Southeastern Louisiana’s been a bit of a disappointment, stocking up on victories over SWAC teams while also managing to lose to the likes of Houston Baptist on home turf and came into league play just two games over .500 despite a rather forgiving schedule. Lamar’s been a bit of a mini-disaster. They have four wins over SWAC opposition and no other victories. While there were some real challenging foes whom they were beaten by, the Cardinals still should’ve been able to pull out a win or two had they been the club some thought they could be at the beginning of the season.

Any surprise packages?

Tabbed for mid-table obscurity, both Oral Roberts and McNeese State have delivered solid showings thus far entering Southland play. ORU were newcomers to the league but have shown some flashes of being a real factor with a shock victory at Oklahoma to be followed by a draw against C-USA side Tulsa. There was a draw at strugglers UMKC, but on the whole, it’s been a fine first half of the season for the Golden Eagles. McNeese State hasn’t been quite as good, but they do have a draw against Jacksonville State and a win against Texas State to prop up their record. In this league, that’s good enough to put them up above the masses for the moment.

Wooden Spoon Watch

Lamar has slipped into this category that is often dominated by perennial strugglers Nicholls State. If the RPI is to be believed, the Colonels probably aren’t going to be making waves either this year, close to the #300 mark again and having notched three of their four victories against SWAC teams. Nicholls also has an ignominious loss to SWAC side Prairie View A&M to further blight their record. Also looking like they’ll be sucked into the battle to stay off the bottom are Northwestern State and Sam Houston State, though the latter seems to have more room for upward mobility after a rather perilous non-conference schedule.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Adriana Lucar – Central Arkansas (14 G, 2 A)
2. Maiya Cooper – Southeastern Louisiana (8 G, 2 A)
3. Kimmy Albeno – Lamar (7 G, 3 A)

At the end of the day…

It would be an absolute shock if Stephen F. Austin doesn’t take home both pieces of Southland silverware this year. The odds of anyone topping the Ladyjacks over the course of a league season are exceedingly slim. Any of the league’s other clubs beating SFA in a one-off situation looks pretty unlikely as well, though that’s what most though last year before the Ladyjacks were stunned in the Southland Conference Tournament final.

Summit

The preseason consensus was…

…for a battle between 2011 Summit League Tournament winners Oakland and regular season champs South Dakota State to see who gets to top the table in 2012.

So how’s that working out?

Oakland’s living up to their end of the bargain, despite a rather odd 2-3-3 record going into league play. The Golden Grizzlies netted a shock draw against Michigan State and followed it up with another draw against Big Ten opposition when they finished even with Northwestern. Toss in a close defeat to Michigan, and it’s apparent that OU aren’t about to lay down for anybody. It’s been a bit of a harder road for South Dakota State, who had more to replace coming into 2012. The Jackrabbits won their opener but promptly went on a six match winless streak that included hammering against some bigger sides but also a rather humiliating 3-1 defeat at the hands of North Dakota. SDSU comes into league play having won just one of eight and needs a big spark early if they’re to live up to their preseason expectations.

Any surprise packages?

IPFW was predicted to toil in mid-table this season but came into league play with a solid RPI relatively speaking despite being two games under .500 in non-conference play. The Mastodons’ win over Miami (OH) was one of the league’s best non-conference wins, though that might say more about the state of the league than anything else. UMKC has also been one of the league’s better sides, though its best result might be a draw they picked up against Oral Roberts near the beginning of the season.

Wooden Spoon Watch

Yeesh. The bottom of the Summit League looks like a wasteland at the moment, with five clubs under the #275 mark in the RPI coming into league play. Worst of the worst right now looks to be the hapless trio of Nebraska-Omaha, IUPUI, and South Dakota, who’ve combined for a record of 1-26-2. Omaha gets a pass as they continue to transition to Division I, but what’s the excuse of the other two? South Dakota returned ten starters from last year’s club but has been brutally bad defensively, not keeping a single clean sheet going into league play and having conceded multiple goals in seven of their nine games, including seven at Iowa State in the non-conference finale. It’s been just as dismal in Indianapolis for the Jaguars. The lone win against Ball State looks like an outlier, as the club has been taking frequent poundings in non-conference action, with six of their nine losses by multiple goals. In short, there are plenty of contenders for the basement in the Summit League, with more than one club potentially finishing out of the RPI Top 300 come the end of the season.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Kyla Kellermann – Oakland (6 G, 2 A)
2. Taylor Bare – UMKC (5 G, 1 A)
3. Skyler Jessop – Western Illinois (4 G, 2 A)

At the end of the day…

It looks like Oakland’s title to lose at this point. The Golden Grizzlies have the talent, as shown by some of their non-conference exploits, and they’ve shown an ability historically to get it done in crunch time, as evidenced by last year’s win in the Summit League Tournament. Picking out a potential spoiler is tough, as the rest of the league looks pretty weak at this point. The overall weakness of the league as a whole might be a long-term talking point going forward, as they’ve put in a dismal display for the most part thus far, with OU being the only side in the RPI Top 200 entering into league play.

SWAC

The preseason consensus was…

…muddled due to the league’s divisional structure. The Western Division was essentially a toss-up between Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Prairie View A&M, and Texas Southern, while the East saw Jackson State get the slight nod of Mississippi Valley State.

So how’s that working out?

It’s almost impossible to discern anything from non-conference play, since SWAC matchups against other DI clubs usually end in lopsided blowouts. Jackson State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the standard bearers for the league over the past few seasons look significantly weaker though after coaching changes. Prairie View A&M did manage one of the league’s few wins out of conference by topping Nicholls State. Neither Texas Southern nor Mississippi Valley State did much of note before league play, other than get blown out in undramatic fashion.

Any surprise packages?

Tip your cap to unheralded Alabama State, who managed to beat Chattanooga and Lipscomb in the early weeks of the season, giving a SWAC side a rare two wins over non-SWAC DI opposition. Neither defeated foe is all that good, but the Hornets still carry as much momentum as anyone in the league going into conference play.

Wooden Spoon Watch

It’s not exactly a predictable position for obvious reasons, but Alabama A&M’s garish goals against record probably makes them one of the favorites to prop up the table. Alcorn State and Southern have also been off the pace relatively speaking, while Arkansas-Pine Bluff still hasn’t managed a goal against a DI opponent and could end up suffering the unenviable fate of going from first to worst in the league this year.

Top 3 Scorers

Not available at current time.

At the end of the day…

You might have more success picking out lottery numbers than successfully prognosticating what’ll happen in the SWAC this season. Both of last year’s dominant teams look to be drastically weaker this season, meaning there’s room for a new team to emerge as the league’s top dog. Considering Alabama State’s shown the ability to beat some slightly higher level competition and has made things a little respectable against others at least, you might see them as slight favorites in the most unpredictable of leagues.

WAC

The preseason consensus was…

…Denver would make a smooth transition from the Sun Belt and win the league at the first time of asking. The preseason poll seemed to indicate that they’d get a stern challenge from last year’s WAC Tournament winners Utah State, with another newcomer, Seattle University, also potentially impressing in their first year in the league.

So how’s that working out?

Very, very well for the Pioneers. After a few years of close calls, Denver looks like kicking down the door to the NCAA Tournament this year in emphatic fashion. After a 1-1-1 start, Denver has been calmly dispatching teams and hasn’t lost since opening day against Colorado College. The list of victims includes Colorado, Kansas, and Portland, with the hot streak all but guaranteeing the side a spot in the NCAA Tournament come what may in the WAC Tournament. Utah State started out the season with a bang by beating Utah, but a loss to Northern Colorado seems to have thrown the club into a bit of a tailspin, with just two wins in seven heading into league play. A draw with Washington did show that this Aggie team can grit out results against tough opposition, especially at home. Seattle’s gone through a trial by fire with some real difficult non-league opposition and has taken their lumps, but they’ve generally beaten who they’ve supposed to and look formidable going into the league season.

Any surprise packages?

You could make an argument for Louisiana Tech, I suppose. The Bulldogs have played a pretty awful non-conference schedule, but their only defeat has been to a solid Jacksonville State side, which certainly has helped them out in the RPI some. Still, the club has drawn with the likes of Troy and South Alabama, and their best win may be over a 3-6-1 Southern Miss team, so make your own judgements, regardless of the numbers.

Wooden Spoon Watch

The gap between top and bottom in the WAC is gigantic, and there are a few clubs that may struggle to avoid slipping out of the RPI Top 300 when all is said and done. New Mexico State comes into league play on a six match winless streak, having not beaten an opponent with a DI win this season. NMSU’s kept it close on most occasions, but they haven’t really been playing an extremely difficult non-conference schedule for the most part either. Idaho, who looked like having real potential not so long ago, has been a disaster area this season, with a 3-9-0 non-conference record that has seen them collect wins against three opponents with four combined wins on the season. The Vandals’ defense has been sieve-like as well, with eight losses coming after conceding multiple goals. Texas State hasn’t had it as easy as their fellow league newcomers, going six without a win in non-conference play before crushing Texas Southern in the non-conference finale. The Bobcats played some pretty tough opponents out of conference though, leaving some to hope they’ll be late bloomers this year.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Kristen Hamilton – Denver (8 G, 2 A)
2. Kaitlin Bast – Denver (5 G, 6 A)
3. Tori Hale – Texas State (4 G, 4 A)

At the end of the day…

The WAC looks like a bubble team’s nightmare come Championship Week. Denver all but has a spot in the NCAA Tournament locked up even before league play starts, significantly easing the pressure on a side who’s come up short too often in the postseason the past few years. Utah State and Seattle are certainly capable foes who could sneak in and snatch away the league’s auto bid, making the WAC a two-bid conference, though the Pioneers should still be comfortable favorites to take home the league title at the first time of asking.

Great West

The preseason consensus was…

…pointing towards Utah Valley retaining their title after the Wolverines downed all comers last season. The preseason poll indicated a likely strong challenge from 2010 champions Houston Baptist though.

So how’s that working out?

Not that well for UVU at the moment. The club managed to beat Sacred Heart in Hawaii in their second game of the season but hasn’t won since. Considering the Wolverines have dropped games to the likes of Southern Utah, Idaho, and Weber State, it’s not like they’ve played a ruthless non-conference slate. 1-9-1 at the moment is dismal, and a huge turnaround will be needed if the club is to reach preseason expectations. HBU’s been solid up to this point, with wins over UC Riverside, Northwestern State, and Southeastern Louisiana all solid for the soon-to-be Southland Conference members. There’s no real defining win on the resume, but HBU hasn’t embarrassed themselves either, even in defeat.

Any surprise packages?

Not really. The biggest surprise may be how bad Utah Valley has been thus far.

Wooden Spoon Watch

Realistically, nobody outside of Houston Baptist would be a surprise in finishing bottom, though Delaware State and Howard are probably the favorites for last right now. Howard’s 0-10-2 going into league play, though they did manage a shock draw with Loyola (MD) early on. Similarly, Delaware State managed a surprising draw of their own against Rider a few weeks ago to provide the smallest glimmer of hope for the season going forward. Challenging for honors looks to be beyond the reach of both, however.

Top 3 Scorers

1. Natalie Hager – Houston Baptist (6 G, 0 A)
2. Regan Benson – Utah Valley (4 G, 1 A)
3. Blanca Barrio – South Carolina State (2 G, 5 A)

At the end of the day…

The league itself is lumbering towards extinction, but there’s still a title to be won, with the silverware looking like it’s going to HBU again after Utah Valley was dominant last season. The Wolverines could still turn it around late, but given their form thus far, betting against the Huskies doesn’t seem wise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *