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Sounders on Campus: The West is Best

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Three of the five top ranked schools in the country are in the Pac-12. And the 6th — Cal State Northridge — is firmly west-side as well. Which just confirms what we already know: the West Coast is the best coast.

#3 Washington

3-0-1 since last update
M Ian Lange, F Darwin Jones (Goal, 3 Assists), D Michael Gallagher, F Jimmy Oganga, F Dom Dismuke, GK Ryan Herman (13 SV, 2 GA)

The Huskies played four times since the last update and the first two were a real test. First they traveled to Stanford to face Aaron Kovar and Jordan Morris in a mega-Sounder-alumni matchup, and it was a contest that the HuskySounders won handily thanks to Jones' goal and 2 assists. Then three days later they had to play at Cal — the #1 team in the country — and got out with a draw they'll be very happy about.

Then the schedule lightened up a bit with an 'away' match at Seattle U — a mini-mega-Sounder-alumni matchup — and came out comfortable winners thanks to a shutout and two Josh Heard goals, one assisted by Jones. And finally they beat Oregon State by a somewhat tighter than expected 1-0 thanks to another Michael Harris flip throw to a headed goal.

On the playing time front, Herman is firmly established as the starting keeper replacing the injured Spencer Richey. Jones is obviously all over the attack. Michael Gallagher has returned to his role as an every game starter at centerback. Jimmy Oganga has started seeing a handful of substitute minutes, but those are probably coming at the expense of fellow Sounder Dom Dismuke. And after being a significant part of the team early in the season, Ian Lange hasn't played at all. I haven't heard anything, but I would suspect an injury.

Staying undefeated through a stretch of three road games puts the Huskies in good position to contend for the conference title with a home-heavy remaining schedule. They only have 3 more road games all season and are hosting Cal for what may be a title-decider on Nov 10. But first they San Diego State and #5 overall UCLA on Friday and Monday. Kind of awkward start times during the work week, but it's worth getting out to Husky Soccer Stadium for a game.

#15 Wake Forest

1-0-3
F Sean Okoli (3 Goals)

Wake also went undefeated in this update, but it was a rather tie-heavy version of undefeated as they only got 1 win in 4. Still, that was enough to walk them back up to the mid-teens in the rankings and keep them tied atop the ACC standings with Notre Dame and Maryland.

First they came back late at Charlotte and held on for the draw. Then they blew out Virginia Tech 3-0 at home, with Okoli getting the late insurance goal. The at NC State, his contribution was much more than insurance as he scored both goals in the 2-2 draw, with his tying goal coming in the 76th minute. And finally they ground out a 1-1 home draw with Clemson. The schedule gets rather more difficult now as they travel to mid-major powerhouse Akron this afternoon and then play at #4 Maryland on Saturday.

UC Santa Barbara

4-0-0
D Brandon Brockway

After a ragged start to the season that included a stretch of 4 losses in 6 games while Brockway was out injured, the Gauchos have gone on a tear with 5 consecutive wins. I'm sure it's not coincidence that it's happened with the Sounder being eased back into the lineup. But it also helps that their conference schedule isn't particularly intimidating outside of one other team. They started off with consecutive home shutout wins over Cal St Fullerton and UC Riverside and then went on the road for consecutive 2-1 wins over #6 overall Cal St Northridge and UC Irvine. That road win over Northridge was a huge boost to their postseason chances and they now have the #3 RPI in the country behind Cal and Washington. This week they move on to take on another Cal branch campus in UC Davis, arguably the worst of the UCs.

Stanford

1-2-1
M Aaron Kovar (Goal, Assist), F Jordan Morris (2 Goals, 2 Assists)

After 5 straight wins the Cardinal stumbled a bit when they hit conference play. First there was the aforementioned home loss to UW where they went down 1-3 (with Kovar assisting on the lone Stanford goal). Then they got a 2-1 home win over the Beavers with Morris scoring the winning goal. Then they fell 0-1 away to UCLA, which isn't anything to be embarrassed about. Then at home they let San Diego State come back twice in the second half to finish 3-3, which is rather more of a problem. On the plus side, Kovar scored the first and Morris assisted the first two goals and scored the third — which should have been the winner — before SDSU scored again 30 seconds later.

Morris is now 4th in the Pac-12 in points with 13 and tied (with Michael Harris) for second in assists with 5. If he keeps this pace up he's probably a shoo-in for Pac 12 Freshman of the Year, which would give Stanford a Sounder FoY for the second consecutive year after Kovar's award last season.

This week the Cardinal have just one match, but it's an away trip to #1 overall Cal, where the could right their season in a big way and help UW out at the same time with a win.

Oregon State

0-3-0
F Michael Steele

The Beavers ran into a brick wall when the hit conference play in the very tough Pac 12, with 3 losses to start the conference schedule. It didn't help that they were all away games and included matches against the #1 and #3 teams in the country. The good news is that the Freshman Steele has moved into a regular starting role at forward. Now he and the other Beavers look forward to the schedule softening a bit with home matches against UCLA and San Diego State.

Bucknell

2-0-1
F Jesse Klug (Goal)

Klug's shooting boots aren't quite as scorching hot as they were earlier in the season, as he's only had 1 goal in the last 3, but that hasn't slowed the Bison down too much as they went undefeated and outscored their opponents 6-1. Still, they're fourth in the Patriot League behind the combined military might of Army and Navy and the divinely inspired Holy Cross. So good luck with that. Tonight they travel to Rutgers — Jersey's finest academic institution — and then this weekend take on the Navy, hopefully on dry land.

College of Charleston

1-3-0
M Troy Peterson, M Ike Crook

The season hasn't gotten any better for the hapless Cougars. After a hopeful 2-1 away win over Winthrop to start the period, they lost their next three straight and have lost 8 of their last 9. The don't even have a draw all season which is at least a little impressive. They are, needless to say, way at the bottom of the CAA standings and it's something of a lost season for the two Sounders and a rare down year for head coach Ralph Lundy, who's in his 27th year with the team and had them in the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2010.

Denver

2-0-1
M Jordan Schweitzer (Assist)

The Pioneers, on the other hand, of done a very good job of recovering from a bad start to the season and are now undefeated in their last 7 and on top of the Summit League. Their last three game stretch includes a 5-0 away win over Fort Wayne (in which Schweitzer got an assist), a 1-1 away draw at Oakland, and a 4-0 home win over IUPUI, which is just as fun to say as you'd imagine. Now Denver plays three consecutive home games as they try to lock down the Summit title.

Others

Is this a hint that Nick Palodichuk really is more of a Timber than a Sounder? His Duke Blue Devils have drawn their last three consecutive games, perhaps signaling a close relationship with the draw-happy Timbers. Nick Raskasky remains out for West Virginia, who are falling behind in their quest to unseat Akron in the MAC. Kyle Bjornethun picked up an assist for Seattle U on a mixed homestand that included that loss to UW.

In Division 2, Glenn Paden and Simon Fraser actually lost a game! And it was to the Sounder-laden SPU Falcons! But they won their next two and are now ranked #3 in the country. SPU went on to draw Western and beat St Martin's with Jordan Kollars getting 3 assists in the 2 games.

At Highline, Stefan Bangsund is up to 7 goals and 4 assists as he leads the Thunderbirds to second place in the division behind only the indomitable Peninsula.

And finally we have a new active player. Freshman Connor Adkisson has taken over as the starting keeper for Regis University, which entered the season as a Division 2 powerhouse but hasn't made any impression with the NSCAA voters despite only having one loss on the season.