Men’s soccer out of top 25? No biggie

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Photo by Brad Curnow

The NSCAA coaches poll was released Aug. 2 and, after much speculation and the expectation of a top-25 appearance, the Utah Valley University men’s soccer team came in at No. 28. While being ranked 28th is nothing to snub your nose at, there is something to be said for top-25 recognition. Despite being left out of the top 25, the Wolverines can use their current preseason ranking to their advantage going forward.

UVU men’s head soccer coach Greg Maas isn’t worried about the ranking.

“I think ultimately that’s out of respect for what we accomplished last year, as a program,” said Maas. “We didn’t really lose anybody. We gained a tremendous recruiting class this year, so I think we’ve put ourselves positioned well to get into the national spotlight.”

Being left out of the rankings gives UVU the ability to come into the season, and the conference, as a dark horse for competition. Western Athletic Conference foe Seattle U was placed No. 14 in the opening rankings and enters the season as favorites to repeat as champs.

The Wolverines have the ability to control their own destiny this season and prove themselves every time they take to the pitch. The season opens as UVU hosts the Pac-12’s Washington Huskies Friday, Aug. 26 at Clyde Field. The Huskies finished the 2015 season third in the Pac-12 and Coach Maas’ squad can start the season with a statement to the WAC and the rest of the nation with a dominating win. UVU can continue to improve its resume throughout the season as it hosts the Gonzaga Bulldogs and plays at Seattle to open WAC play.

A young program still, UVU men’s soccer has established itself as a force within NCAA soccer. The Wolverines finished the 2015 season 14-6-2 overall and were four minutes from taking the WAC Championship from Seattle, but a game-tying penalty kick by Seattle in the 87th minute of the title match led to extra frames and decisive penalty kicks.

In just its third year of existence, the men’s soccer program has made tremendous progress in the Division I ranks. As Coach Maas said, last season they weren’t even receiving votes. I would usually say that a top-25 “snub” is too strong for a program as young as UVU, but with the success the Wolverines have had over their first two seasons, it seems they have been snubbed by the NSCAA rankings. However, only the Wolverines have the power to prove the pollsters wrong with their efforts on the pitch.