Following wins over Rollins and Saint Leo last week, the Florida Southern men's soccer team moved up nine spots in the September 25 United Soccer Coaches National Poll, establishing a new high-water mark for the program now in its second year under head coach Jason Carlson. Now ranked No. 9 in the country, the Moccasins surpassed their previous high of No. 18 established in 1999, which they matched last week when they broke into the poll for the first time in eight years.
The Moccasins have started the season 7-0, and are one of eight remaining undefeated teams in Division II. With a win tonight at Flagler they would become only the second team in the program's 62-year history to open a season with eight consecutive wins. The 1997 team under Kris Pahl started 8-0 on its way to a 12-3-2 record and did not suffer its first loss until the 10th game of the season following a tie in game nine. Only twice before this year have the Moccasins ever won more than seven straight games, with a nine-game winning streak spanning the 1996-97 seasons, and an eight-game streak at the end of the regular season in 1971.
Among their seven wins this year are two over other nationally ranked teams, Lynn (No. 15 at the time) and Rollins (No. 14 at the time). Combined with their victory at Saint Leo on Saturday, the Mocs are now 3-0 in Sunshine State Conference play for the first time. Five of their seven wins have come by shutout, tied for the third most in the team record book and the most by the Moccasins since they had seven in 2002. Their team goals against average of 0.283 ranks second in Division II behind the University of Indianapolis' 0.242 GAA.
The Mocs are also allowing just 8.00 shots per game, currently half a shot lower than the school record set in 2001, with two goals allowed through the first seven games. Playing behind a back line that has primarily seen Daniel Moore, Foster Appiah, Jake Starling and Claus Lehland as starters, with Nick Atwood and Anton Lindbom playing significant minutes too, goalkeeper Benny Yusufoglu is second in the nation in individual goals against average (0.283) and ranks fourth in save percentage (.905).
Offensively, Florida Southern has already equaled its goal total from all of 2017 in exactly half the games. The Moccasins are averaging 3.14 goals per game, which is 10th in the country, and they haven't averaged three or better over a full season since 2000. Ten different players have scored goals so far, a list topped by junior Christoph Gums, the reigning SSC Offensive Player of the Week, who has five goals and 13 points in six games played; and James Meehan, last week's SSC Offensive Player of the Week, who has five goals and 10 points. Pablo Gallo Arias is the team leader with four assists.
Florida Southern is not the only team from the Sunshine State Conference in the top-10 of United Soccer Coaches National Poll. Palm Beach Atlantic moved up to No. 2 this week trailing only Simon Fraser, the lone Division II school from Canada. Both of those teams are 8-0. Florida Tech is No. 19 in this week's poll, and Barry is receiving votes. Two other SSC schools, Lynn and Rollins, have also been in the top-20 at different points this season.
In addition to their spots in the national rankings, the Sunshine State Conference also has the top five teams in the coaches South Region poll. Palm Beach Atlantic and Florida Southern are in the top two positions followed by Florida Tech, Barry, and Rollins.