Before the season began, the Penn State women’s soccer team was highly ranked in a few preseason polls, but was surprisingly absent from the United Soccer Coaches top-25 rankings.
After No. 6 North Carolina fell to Penn State 1-0 on Thursday night, Tar Heels coach Anson Dorrance — the most decorated college soccer coach of all-time — didn’t mince words on those rankings, calling those voters “idiots.”
“You’ve got to be an idiot not to give that sort of team credit,” he said, when asked about the Nittany Lions’ rise. “I think that’s less an indictment on Penn State as it is on the idiots that are voting in the poll. I told my kids, on paper, I thought the team with the best talent coming into the season was Penn State — which is why we wanted to schedule them. I think they were just overlooked.
“Find out who was (voting) on that poll, call them up and say, ‘Are you kidding me?’ That was just an oversight. The people doing the poll obviously didn’t have a clue.”
The poll of 31 Division I coaches, formerly the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, was released in early August. It was eyebrow-raising since the Nittany Lions were a unanimous choice by Big Ten coaches to be the conference favorite, had a large number of returning starters and brought back five women who missed all of last season while playing with the U.S. national program in the Under-20 World Cup. Those five players also helped the Nittany Lions win the 2015 NCAA title.
Before the season, Penn State coach Erica Dambach chalked it up to a “reflection of the past,” looking at what her team did last fall, and brushed aside the snub. Currently, Penn State is ranked No. 5 in the poll and will likely rise after Thursday’s victory.
Dorrance — who boasts 21 career national championships and 47 World Cup players — had one parting shot on the poll, too.
“All of a sudden your team goes from five elite players down to five elite players back in the fold?” Dorrance asked. “How bright to you have to be to say, ‘You know what? This might be a quality team.’ Because those five kids beat out, basically, the freshman and sophomore classes across the country to make that U-20 team.”