Grand Valley State. Western Washington. Columbus State. When you think DII women’s soccer powerhouses, those are three of the names that come to mind.
Those three aren’t even in the latest top 25 of DII women’s soccer.
That’s not to say there aren’t perennial powers lurking at the top. Past national champion West Florida is in there, and so is Saint Rose who has plenty of national semifinal experience the past few years as well. The first three polls of the season have been a rollercoaster ride: we’ve had two different schools ranked No. 1 and No. 5, and each week has seen a different No. 2, 3 and 4 so far. Let’s take a look at the current top five of DII women’s soccer.
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Breaking down DII women’s soccer’s top 5
No. 1 Ashland
Well, we are just three weeks into the 2023 DII women’s soccer season and we are seeing history. The Ashland Eagles reached No. 1 for the first time, and the road there has been quite impressive. The Eagles first blanked preseason No. 8 Grand Valley State 1-0 on opening day, and most recently dominated then-No. 4 Ferris State 3-0. Mackenzie Simon has started every game in net and has allowed just one goal on 17 attempts thus far, anchoring the Ashland’s first 4-0 start since 2015. They now open G-MAC play, a conference they were projected to win in the preseason.
No. 2 Colorado School of Mines
This team has been up and down the top 10 thus far, opening the season at No. 4, falling to No. 7, and now reaching No. 2, tying the highest ranking in program history. This team was on a roll offensively, opening the season with three-straight 4-0 shutouts before tying then-No. 3 Dallas Baptist 2-2 over the weekend. Bella Campos and Natalie Rouse are leading the barrage with three goals apiece for the seventh-best scoring team in the division. Mines hosts defending national champion Western Washington on Thursday, hoping to remain unbeaten to cement its spot near the top. The Orediggers haven’t missed an NCAA tournament since the 2008 season, and the way they’ve started, that streak will remain alive in 2023.
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No. 3 Saint Rose
Saint Rose has established itself an annual threat for a deep run in the DII women’s soccer championship bracket. But every year, it seems this team needs to prove itself and fight hard to get recognition atop the United Soccer Coaches poll. Over the past three full seasons, Saint Rose has lost just six matches, and made a run to the 2019 semifinals and the 2021 finals, both of which ended at the hands of eventual national champion Grand Valley State. This year, it’s no different as Saint Rose is off to a 4-0 start. Mia Klammer is off to a scorching hot start, scoring a goal in all four games with a three-game assist streak going as well.
No. 4 Catawba
Catawba is out of the gates quickly this year, sitting at the highest ranking in program history. That’s somewhat surprising, considering that Catawba is an impressive 70-15-9 with 55 shutouts since the start of the 2018 season. The women’s squad happens to be one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. The team has scored no fewer than four goals in any match and its 30 goals scored is tops in DII, while its six goals-per-game average is tied for the top spot. Sydney Jimmo is scoring machine with the DII women’s soccer lead with eight goals through five matches, while Hannah Dunn — after a two-goal, one assist outburst in Wednesday’s 7-0 win — is among the division’s leaders in both goals and assists. Catawba is 5-0 outscoring its opponents 30-5. Those five goals allowed came in a thrilling 6-5 victory between DII’s top-scoring offenses last week against then-No. 17 Columbus State, which allowed Catawba to shoot up the rankings from No. 11 to No. 4.
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No. 5 West Florida
The Argos are one of two former national champions in the top five (the other being Saint Rose), but are the most recent champion of the two, winning it all in 2012. They finished their non-conference portion of the schedule and head into Gulf South play 3-0-1. Head coach Joe Bartlinski has set the bar high at West Florida, entering the season with a 348-62-25 record — his .804 winning percentage the sixth-best in NCAA women’s soccer history at all levels. While none of this year’s success is surprising, it’s still impressive that you can pencil in the Argos as contenders each and every year… and you would be correct.