The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) rates the Bisons eighth in the South Region. Wake Forest holds down the top spot followed by North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, South Carolina, College of Charleston and Gardner-Webb. Central Florida is ranked ninth and Florida International is rated 10th.
“I think it is motivation,” said Bisons coach Charles Morrow. “We have talked about this from the beginning of the season. No longer are we the underdog that teams in the conference are going to overlook.
“The days of being ranked at the bottom of the conference and knowing that we can overachieve are probably long gone. Teams are going to give their best efforts against us. There is a difference in playing the underdog role and playing with a target on your back.”
The Bisons are unbeaten this season with a 2-0-1 record. They tied Berry College 1-1 to open the season and then shut out Oral Roberts and Marshall by identical 1-0 scores. Morrow thinks the ranking, the first of the season by the NSCAA and the NCAA, is a reflection on the last two seasons as well as the first three games of this season.
“There is a respect there for what we did last season as well,” said Morrow. “Certainly being undefeated at this point is great, but it is just the first weekend. I don’t know if we would be in this ranking had it not been for what we have done the past couple of seasons.”
Morrow has stressed to his players that they have to be playing at a top level not only in games, but every time they practice.
“There is an awareness that we are no longer flying under the radar,” said Morrow. “Every time we step out we have to bring our best. That has to translate over to practice and training as well. We can’t expect to only bring our best on game days.
“It is more of an awareness of the things we can control. The effort and intensity has to be there every game and in every practice as well.”
Morrow added that his players must also realize they are carrying the flag for the Atlantic Sun Conference at this stage of the season.
“I certainly think there are other teams in the conference that are going to be in that group at the end of the year,” said Morrow. “We want to be there too.”
The Bisons will be tested this weekend at the Michigan Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich. They play No. 20-ranked Michigan State Friday at 5 p.m. They play host Michigan, which dropped out of the top 25 this week after being ranked No. 22 last season, Sunday at 2:30 p.m.