The Boston College men's soccer team, coming off a disappointing 7-9-2 campaign, was selected to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division according to a vote of the league's 12 head coaches. The Eagles finished ahead of only Syracuse in the new, two-division format.
Defending national champion Notre Dame is the preseason favorite, followed by Virginia with three first-place votes, North Carolina with two, and Louisville with one. Here's the complete poll:
2014 ACC MEN'S SOCCER PRESEASON COACHES POLL (first place votes)
Notre Dame (6)
North Carolina (2)
1. Louisville (9) 69
2. Wake Forest (2) 57
3. Clemson (1) 50
4. NC State 30
5. Boston College 26
6. Syracuse 20
1. Notre Dame (6) 64
2. Virginia (4) 62
3. North Carolina (2) 53
4. Duke 37
5. Virginia Tech 23
6. Pitt 13
The 2014 season marks the first for the league under a divisional format, because the conference clearly needed to heap even more dependencies on these arbitrary division constructs. Each team will play every other squad in its division, plus three crossover games. The two division winners are guaranteed one of the top two seeds for the ACC Championship.
As it is for football and baseball, Boston College is a member of the Atlantic Division; joined by Louisville, Wake Forest, Clemson, N.C. State and Syracuse. The Coastal Division is comprised of Notre Dame, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech and Pitt. Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami do not field varsity men's programs (and Pitt probably shouldn't, but I digress).
Notre Dame, a member of the ACC's Atlantic Division for baseball, is a member of the Coastal Division for men's soccer. Got it.
Aside from not having an annual game against Notre Dame, Boston College lucks out a bit since the Coastal Division is currently loaded for men's soccer. Notre Dame is the defending National Champion, while Virginia is coming off another appearance in the NCAA College Cup. North Carolina and Duke are solid outfits as well. In the Atlantic, ACC newcomer Louisville and Wake Forest are arguably the strongest programs, with Clemson right in the mix for the top three. But after that, it's a grab bag between a faltering BC program, N.C. State and Syracuse.
The league also announced that the top 10 teams will qualify for the ACC Championship, which will be held in early November. First round games will be held at campus sites (Wednesday, November 5), while the semifinals and final will be played at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The release doesn't make clear how this year's ACC Championship format will take shape, though I suppose with 10 qualifying teams and two division winners, there will probably be some sort of first-round bye given to the division winners. Call it:
Atlantic #1 vs. Coastal #3 / Atlantic #4 winner
Coastal #2 vs. Atlantic #5
Coastal #1 vs. Atlantic #3 / Coastal #4 winner
Atlantic #2 vs. Coastal #3
Or intra-division quarter and semifinals, or re-seeding after the quarterfinals. No clue. Either way, the division format is bound to produce an unbalanced championship bracket that some school will complain about .... eventually. My money is on Notre Dame.
The preseason gets underway this afternoon, as BC travels to Worcester for an exhibition game against Holy Cross in #yeolderivalry.