Pitt has been selected by a vote of the ACC head coaches as the preseason favorite to win the 2021 men’s soccer championship. The coaches also picked FSU as the favorite to win the women’s soccer championship
The Panthers were voted the ACC favorite by seven of the 12 head coaches while Clemson earned three votes and North Carolina two.
After making its first trip to the NCAA College Cup last season, Pitt returns 10 starters and 20 players from its 2020-21 squad that finished 16-4 overall and 9-1 in ACC matches. Among the returnees is junior midfielder Valentin Noel, who was named the 2020 ACC Offensive Player of the Year and was one of three finalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is presented to the top player in college soccer.
Pitt also was voted the preseason favorite in the Coastal Division, finishing with nine first-place votes and 64 total points. After joining Pitt in the NCAA College Cup last season, North Carolina finished second in the preseason Coastal Division voting after claiming three first-place votes and 58 points. Virginia Tech (40), Virginia (32), Duke (28) and Notre Dame (24) were picked third through sixth, respectively.
Reigning ACC champion Clemson was named the preseason favorite in the Atlantic Division after garnering nine first-place votes and totaling 64 points. After earning two first-place votes and 57 points, Wake Forest was second while Louisville was third with 38 points, and Boston College was fourth after securing one first-place vote and 36 points. NC State (27) and Syracuse (24) rounded out the division.
ACC men’s soccer returns to its traditional league format this season, with each team playing eight conference matches. Each squad will play its five division foes as well as three sides from the other division.
The Florida State Seminoles advanced to their 11th NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup last season and played for the national championship. They received 11 first-place votes and tallied 167 points.
North Carolina collected two first-place votes and 155 points to finish second in the voting, while Virginia earned 148 points and one first-place vote to occupy third. Duke and Clemson rounded out the top five with 129 and 124 points, respectively.
Notre Dame was picked sixth with 104 points while Virginia Tech was tabbed seventh (85). Louisville, Wake Forest, and NC State were separated by just six points with the Cardinals claiming eighth (77), followed by the Demon Deacons (72) and the Wolfpack (71). Pitt (57), Boston College (45), Syracuse (24), and Miami (16) rounded out the poll.
Ten members of the preseason All-ACC Team were named to one of the league’s 2020 all-conference teams, headlined by Florida State’s Jaelin Howell, the 2020-21 MAC Hermann Trophy Award winner (given to the top player in college soccer) and ACC’s Midfielder of the Year, and Virginia’s Lia Godfrey, the conference’s Freshman of the Year.
The fall season began Thursday, Aug. 19, with 13 of the league’s teams in action. Conference play kicks off Thursday, Sept. 16, with Clemson hosting Pitt.
The top six teams in the final league standings will advance to the ACC Championship, which begins with quarterfinal matches at campus sites on Sunday, Oct. 31. The semifinals and final are scheduled for Nov. 5 and Nov. 7 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.