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Sounders on Campus: On to Conference Play

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In this edition, the Huskies creep towards the peak, Davidson is on the rise, and Portland reaches historic lows.

For most schools, the nonconference schedule is over (or thereabouts) and teams are moving on to conference play. In smaller conferences that means things get a little easier. In the Pac 12 it means things get really rough. Here's a look at how the collegiate Sounders have fared since the last update.

#2 UCLA

2W-2D-1L since last update
Fr F Seyi Adekoya

Having a Sounder at one of the most storied programs in the country and a national title contender is a big deal. His getting minutes as a true Freshman is a bigger deal. Having him get starts as a true Freshman is a really big deal. Adekoya hasn't picked up any goals or assists since the early form that earned him the first Pac 12 Player of the Week Award of the 2014 season, but he's still getting plenty of minutes.

The Bruins started off this stretch with two home scoreless draws, but recovered to win on the road over UC Santa Barbara. Adekoya was a 30ish minute sub in all of those matches, as well as the following 0-1 road loss to San Diego. Then he started in a 3-0 home win over CSU Northridge. UCLA kicks off the conference schedule on the road against San Diego State this weekend.

#5 Washington

5-0-0
Sr F Darwin Jones (2 Goals, 2 Assists), Jr(RS) GK Ryan Herman (2 GS, 6 saves), Jr M/D Ian Lange, Jr D Michael Gallagher, Jr F Jimmy Oganga, So F Dom Dismuke, Fr F Henry Wingo

The Sounder-laden Huskies have relentlessly climbed the rankings this season thanks to picking up only a single loss (and no ties) all year. That includes a perfect 5 wins during this stretch. It started with consecutive 3-1 home wins over UConn and Penn, with Jones getting an assist in the first match and scoring a brace in the second. Then they took the longest of road trips to earn wins over Florida Gulf Coast and South Florida. And last weekend they came back to take on foundering Portland in the Rose City, where they got an overtime 2-1 win, with Darwin assisting the first Husky goal.

Jones continues to be a huge part of the offense, being tied for the team lead in both goals and assists. And he leads the Pac 12 in shots by a lot.. his 43 is followed by teammate Mason Robertson's 30.

Despite reasonable concerns that Spencer Richey's return would relegate Herman to the bench, head coach Jamie Clark seems to be committed to rotating the two goalkeepers. The players alternated starts during this stretch, with Herman starting against Penn and South Florida. We'll see if that continues into conference play, which starts on Thursday at home against Cal before a big match with Stanford on Sunday (more on that shortly).

Gallagher continues to play a major role at center back and is 3rd on the team in minutes. Lange has also started all 8 games and looks like he's mostly being deployed at defensive midfield or fullback. Oganga and Wingo have been heavily involved as subs. Dismuke hasn't seen as much field time, but last week announced his first child on the way! Congrats all around.

#18 Stanford

4-0-0
So F Jordan Morris (Goal, 3 Assists)

Morris hit the ground running after returning from a call-up to THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL MENS SOCCER TEAM (PERHAPS YOU'VE HEARD OF IT) and the Cardinal has won every match since he's come back, all of which were at home. First was a 4-1 thumping of Santa Barbara, then a 2-1 win over Southern Illinois in which Morris assisted the first Stanford goal. Then he assisted both goals in a 2-1 over Delaware and finally he scored the first goal in a 3-1 win over Gonzaga. He now leads the team in shots and is tied for 3rd in the conference with 4 assists.

Stanford starts conference play on Thursday when they travel to Oregon State, and then they face the Huskies in Seattle on Sunday in a showdown of the two best Sounder forwards in the college game.

#24 Seattle University

3-0-2
Sr M Chase Hanson, Jr M Austin Sweeney, So D Kyle Bjornethun, So D Sam Langston

Seattle U joins the Top 25 this week, which makes Seattle one of only two cities in the nation (the other being DC) with two teams in the rankings. The Redhawks are coached by a certain Pete Fewing you may have heard of and have a few Sounder Academy grads on the roster. The most active are Sophomore defenders Sam Langston and Kyle Bjornethun, who are both near-every game starters, and senior midfielder Chase Hanson.

Last week they picked up two 1-0 home wins against ranked Oregon State and Gonzaga, which pushed them into the rankings. This weekend they kick off conference play in the WAC at Utah Valley.

Davidson

3-1-0
Fr D Matt Reinikka

Davi-what? That's right, the Davidson Wildcats of Davidson, North Carolina are on the edge of the Top 25 and are 3rd (THIRD!) in the country in the RPI rankings. This is a team that hasn't had a winning record since 2009, hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2003, and hasn't made it past the first round of the NCAAs since 1992.

Their surprise success this year is of particular interest to SoC fans, since the only player on the team to play every minute this season is Freshman defender Matt Reinikka. With Reinikka leading the defense the Wildcats have allowed more than 1 goal only once all season (and that was in a 4-3 win). They have yet to lose this season, and that streak includes a win last week over then-#2 Virginia on the road. This week conference play begins with a road game against Dayton, then they take on #8 St Louis at home.

Others

Freshman forward David Olsen scored three more goals for San Diego St and now leads the team with six. This weekend the Aztecs host UCLA, which will pit Olsen against fellow Sounder Adekoya. Bucknell won 4-0 over Howard two weeks ago and Jesse Klug had a hand in every goal with 1 goal and 3 assists in the game.

Defender Brandon Brockway continues to play nearly every minute for the UCSB Gauchos, who have won 3 of their last 4 and now move on to conference play in the Big West, where they're one of the favorites. Oregon State has won 4 of their last 5, including an 11-1 (!) win over Northwest Christian. Sounder defender Jalen Markey played every minute and Michael Steele picked up a goal and an assist in that stretch. They take on Jordan and the rest of Stanford on Thursday.

Junior fullback Nick Raskasky finally made his return to the field for West Virginia in a 2-0 win over Niagara after an injury absence stretching back to last year. Here's hoping for a healthy and successful rest of the season. Gonzaga is struggling this season with two Sounder Freshmen on the roster. Goalkeeper Ben Willis got his first start of his college career last weekend in a 1-0 loss at Seattle. We'll see if he continues to get the nod in goal as conference play starts up.

Paul Christensen continues to start every game in goal for a struggling Portland Pilots team. They've lost four in a row — including an overtime home loss to UW last weekend — and have only won once all season.

In Division 2, the Regis Rangers are national title contenders with Connor Adkisson playing 45 minutes of every game in goal. Yeah, the coach is doing a halftime goalkeeper change in every match. I guess it's working, since they've won 6 of their 7 games this season.