WALTHAM, Massachusetts – Coming off their historic trips to the Final Four in 2016, the Brandeis University soccer teams have both landed in the top 10 of the Division III preseason poll released on Friday by United Soccer Coaches (formerly the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.)
The Brandeis men, who reached the Final Four for the fourth time in program history last year - but first since 1984 - rank fourth in the first poll of 2017. The Judges will be led by a new coach for the first time in 44 seasons, as long-time assistant coach Gabe Margolis was selected to succeed Mike Coven during the off-season. The Judges went 13-6-4 last season, winning five of their final six regular-season games to secure an NCAA tournament berth. Brandeis returns All-American midfielder Josh Ocel, who is utilizing a fourth year of eligibility after missing his freshman campaign to injury. The Judges return players who accounted for 22 of their 37 goals as well as three players who started at least 10 games on defense and a standout goalkeeper in Ben Woodhouse, who played every minute in net as a junior.
The Brandeis women open the season ranked No. 6 in the nation. Last year, they made their first-ever Final Four appearance under head coach Denise Dallamora, who returns for her 38thseason at the helm. The Judges went 16-4-4 last year, including a 12-0-1 start that was the longest unbeaten streak to begin a season in program history. Their run through the NCAA tournament last year included a 4-3 win in the quarterfinals against an unbeaten and top-ranked William Smith team that entered the tournament having allowed just four goals in the regular season. The Judges will look to replace half of their scoring, but return forward Samantha Schwartz, who ignited the Brandeis offense in the postseason by notching goals in four-straight NCAA tournament games. Classmate Haliana Burhans led the squad with seven in assists.
Brandeis is one of two programs with both teams ranked among the top 10 in the preseason United Soccer Coaches polls. The other program is fellow University Athletic Association members University of Chicago (#3 women, #9 men).
The Brandeis men have four ranked opponents on their schedule, starting with #13 Cortland State on Sept. 2 at Hobart College, as well defending national champions and #1-ranked Tufts on Sept. 22. Other top-25 opponents include UAA members #20 Carnegie Mellon on October 7 for Homecoming and #9 Chicago on Oct. 29.
The women take on three pre-season top 25 teams, all UAA opponents. #22 Carnegie Mellon visits Waltham on Oct. 7 for Homecoming. The women also take on the 2016 champions when top-ranked Washington University comes to town on Oct. 27, while #3 Chicago visits on Oct. 29. Those two teams handed the Judges three of their four losses last year. Brandeis also meets a Wentworth Institute team that is just outside the top 25 on Sept. 9 in Boston.