Virginia Men, Women Look Strong in Soccer
Virginia, which opens its season Friday night at the Portland (Ore.) Invitational, was selected to finish second in the ACC, the country's strongest league, behind 2008 national runner-up North Carolina. The Cavaliers, who have been to 29 straight NCAA tournaments, are led by sophomore MF Tony Tchani and Brian Ownby, a sophomore forward who was named to the U.S. Under-20 World Cup squad and will miss several weeks of the college season. . . .
Two years since its first final four appearance, Virginia Tech is in rebuilding mode with 17 newcomers after the dismissal of coach Oliver Weiss and allegations of NCAA violations. Top assistant Mike Brizendine was promoted. . . .
George Mason, seeking a third NCAA tournament berth in four years, is No. 19 in Soccer America's preseason rankings and the favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association. . . . American, led by D Cooper Bryant, was chosen second behind Colgate in the Patriot League's preseason poll, while Navy's 10 returning starters will try to rebound from a four-win season with new Coach Dave Brandt, who won 246 games and six Division III national titles in 12 seasons at Messiah (Pa.). . . .
After an 11-5-3 record last year, Georgetown has been picked third behind national powers Notre Dame and Connecticut in the Big East's Blue Division. . . . George Washington returns nine starters, including all-American candidate Andy Stadler, a senior forward who scored 14 goals a year ago. . . . Howard, which won one game last season, will play only four of its 17 matches at home.
Virginia, No. 11 in Soccer America's preseason rankings and picked fourth in the ACC poll, dropped its season opener at No. 6 Penn State, 1-0, before rebounding for two home victories by a combined 12-0 score. Junior MF Sinead Farrelly is among the nation's top players. . . . Virginia Tech and Maryland were picked to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, among 11 ACC teams. . . .
Georgetown welcomes back MF Ingrid Wells, the 2007 Big East rookie of the year after notching six goals and 13 assists. She redshirted last season to play for the United States at the Under-20 World Cup. The Hoyas have set a school record by recording four shutouts to start the season. . . . Led by Jamaican national team MF Omolyn Davis, George Mason (3-0 record; 13 goals, none allowed) is off to its best start in 16 years. . . .
George Washington is picked to finish 10th in the 14-team Atlantic 10. . . . Navy, off to a 4-0 start, is the Patriot preseason favorite for the third straight year while American was picked fifth in the eight-team league. . . . Brent Leiba, who has coached at various levels in the area, takes over a Howard program that lost its first four games after going 4-11-0 last year.
-- Steven Goff