NCAA Preseason Goalkeeper Rankings - Men's 2018

cover photo from University of Delaware


1. Todd Morton (Delaware) - 22
2. Bobby Edwards (Mount St. Mary's) - 23
3. Rashid Nuhu (Fordham, Ghana) - 22
4. Nick Gardner (Denver) - 23
5. Briley Guarneri (Colorado Mesa, D-II) - 21
6. Jimmy Hague (Michigan State) - 23
7. Elliott Rubio (Utah Valley) - 22
8. Dakota Havlick (Santa Clara) - 21
9. Ben Willis (Gonzaga) - 22
10. Dylan Castanheira (Columbia) - 23

Bill says: There are a couple of PDL hotspots for goalkeeping where if a college goalkeeper spent the summer there, it's a good chance we'll see them again down the line. Morton (Ocean City Nor'easters), Nuhu (New York Red Bulls U23s), and Hague (Michigan Bucks) all trained with clubs who have a history of producing not only strong collegiate goalkeepers, but also professional ones as well. Elliott Rubio and Dakota Havlick are coming off junior years where they split time in goal and are looking to establish themselves as full-time starters for their final year. Ben Willis could be eyeing a homegrown contract from the Seattle Sounders by next spring, as the Gonzaga goalkeeper trained with the Sounders' PDL side, as well as graduating out of their academy system years ago.



1. Dayne St. Clair (Maryland, Canada) - 21
2. Parker Siegfried (Ohio State) - 21
3. Jimmy Slayton (Hartford) - 20
4. Drake Callender (California) - 20
5. Andreu Cases Mundet (Wake Forest, Spain) - 21
6. Andrew Verdi (Michigan) - 20
7. Carlos Caro (Howard) - 20
8. Aron Runarsson (Vermont, Iceland) - 23
9. Charlie Furrer (Stanford) - 21
10. Marcel DaSilva (Virginia) - 21

Bill says: St. Clair (New York Red Bulls U23s) leads the pack for the juniors and is rated as one of the best prospects in college soccer by many scouts. National champions Stanford University are looking to replace Nico Corti and FC Dallas product Charlie Furrer is vying for the spot. Mundt, Verdi, and DaSilva (the last one transferring to UVA from Tulsa) will also have stiff competition from underclassmen and will have to prove themselves once again that they're worthy of being the number one. Howard's Carlos Caro has a live-or-die approach to goalkeeping that can either produce some wonderful contributions to the game or a largely forgettable moment from the 5'11" goalkeeper.



1. Will Pulisic (Duke) - 20
2. Chase Vosvick (Loyola Maryland) - 20
3. Alec Smir (North Carolina) - 19
4. Drew Romig (North Carolina) - 20
5. Ben Hale (Furman) - 20
6. Andrew Pannenberg (Wake Forest) - 19
7. Noah Lawrence (Cincinnati) - 19
8. Trey Muse (Indiana) - 19
9. Noah Heim (SIUE) - 20
10. Enrique Facusse (Kentucky, Honduras) - 19

Bill says: When the 2021 MLS SuperDraft rolls around, there's a good chance we'll see a repeat of the 2018 draft where goalkeepers were flying off the board. There are another ten or more sophomore goalkeepers that have MLS potential so it'll be interesting to see who breaks out this fall and who will struggle to usurp an upperclassman. UNC has a tight situation on their hands with talented USYNT products, Alec Smir and Drew Romig. They could theoretically split 45's but most likely UNC is going to have one of the best backup goalkeepers in all of NCAA this year. Lawrence brings an immense amount of athleticism to Cincinnati's backline but will need to focus on limiting mistakes and rebounds as he attempts to lock down the starting role for the Bearcats.



1. Justin Garces (UCLA) - 18
2. Cameron Douglas (UCLA) - 19
3. Quantrell Jones (UMBC) - 18
4. Matt Frank (Stanford) - 18
5. George Marks (Clemson) - 18
6. Kyle Orciuch (Stanford) - 18
7. Alexander Budnik (Dartmouth) - 18
8. Giannis Nikopolidis (Georgetown, Greek) - 17
9. Johan Penaranda (Pittsburgh) - 18
10. Nick Malvezzi (Boston University) - 18

Bill says: While UCLA is typically known for their goalkeeping, it admittedly is odd seeing the top two goalkeepers in UCLA's stable. One has to think it's likely they both don't end their time at UCLA, as either could start for a majority of programs in the country. Jones (DC United), Frank (New York Red Bulls), Orciuch (Chicago), and Penaranda (New York City) all bring in Development Academy experience but may not see the field until 2019 or 2020. Nikopolidis is the lone international goalkeeper in the freshmen's list but the Greek goalkeeper could end up starting for one of the top programs in the country before he even turns 18. Overall it's an incredibly strong class that isn't limited to just ten goalkeepers and could rival the sophomores for producing professional talent.

The Top Five Goalkeeping Nations for 2022

With one World Cup ending, the green light is officially given to project the next top goalkeepers on the world’s stage. While no nation is head over shoulders for winning the 2022 competition - France leads the pack with best odds to win the next World Cup at 17%  - there are already some noticeable gaps in talent when comparing the goalkeeping pools. Of course it’s impossible to predict with certainty on which goalkeeper will be the starter for a nation four years from now, so this list is taking into account the entire stable of goalkeepers, not just the likely number one.


1. Spain

 Photo belongs to Reuters

Photo belongs to Reuters

David de Gea (Manchester United) - 27
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) - 23
Sergio Rico (Sevilla) - 24
Pau López (Real Betis) - 23
Fernando Pacheco (Alavés) - 26

Bill says: While de Gea critics will be quick to point out his performance from the last World Cup, it’s hard to gauge any goalkeeper on four games. It was truly a poor goal in the opening match but de Gea has handled pressure well in the past and will continue to amaze fans for the steadiness he’ll provide Manchester United this season. And if worst comes to worst, Spain has the luxury of leaning on up-and-coming goalkeepers. There's a reason Chelsea brought in Arrizabalaga ASAP, and on a pretty penny too. Spanish goalkeepers are known for the abilities with their feet but their quick mobility and fantastic reflex saves are something to expect from Spain's starter in 2022, whoever it may be.


2. Germany

 Photo belongs to Getty

Photo belongs to Getty

Marc ter Stegen (Barcelona) - 26
Bernd Leno (Arsenal) - 26
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) - 32
Timo Horn (1. FC Köln) - 25

Bill says: Most countries wouldn’t be against Manuel Neuer starting for them at 36 years old, but right now it’s ter Stegen’s job to lose. The Barcelona goalkeeper has patiently waited for his tenure with the national team and he’s in prime position to continue to bolster his résumé even further. While Neuer could very well still earn a World Cup invite come 2022, Bernd Leno and Timo Horn are playing at levels where they could theoretically establish themselves over the Bayern Munich goalkeeper. It's been a while since Germany has struggled to field a competent goalkeeper at the world stage and 2022 will be no different.


3. Portugal


Anthony Lopes (Lyon) - 27
Rui Patrício (Wolverhampton) - 30
José Sá (FC Porto) - 25
Bruno Varela (Benfica) - 23
Cláudio Ramos (Tondela) - 26
Joel Pereira (Vitória de Setúbal) - 22
Pedro Silva (Tondela) - 21

Bill says: Some are already writing off Portugal as a contender next World Cup but if there’s a weakness in their lineup, it won’t be found in their goalkeeping. Rui Patrício did a wonderful job of setting a high standard for Portuguese goalkeeping at the 2018 World Cup and a number of young goalkeepers are looking to follow suit going forward. Sá’s ability comes with little question but if he can get his club situation sorted out, he should be contesting with Patrício and Lopes down the line. Lopes enters his sixth season as a starter for Lyon and returns to Champions League play after the French club missed last year’s contest.


4. Italy


Mattia Perin (Juventus) - 25
Marco Sportiello (Atalanta) - 26
Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan) - 19
Alessio Cragno (Cagliari) - 24
Emil Audero (Juventus) - 21
Simone Scuffet (Udinese) - 22
Alex Meret (Napoli) - 21
Alessandro Plizzari (AC Milan) - 18

Bill says: Many are expecting Italy to replace Gianluigi Buffon with Donnarumma moving forward but it’s a crowded field he’ll have to beat out. Perin and Sportiello are entering the peak of their careers while there are many other young talented goalkeepers littered across Italy. It’ll be a tightly contested battle that could easily come down to the run-up year to the Cup. Perin already has a heavy challenge battling for the number one spot at Juventus, but if he can win that out, he should do will to follow in Buffon’s footsteps.


5. Brazil


Alisson (Liverpool) - 25
Ederson (Manchester City) - 24
Rafael (Napoli) - 28

Bill says: Unlike Italy, Brazil doesn’t have an extensive top-tier goalkeeping core but with Alisson and Ederson competing for the top spot, it’s easy to think “Who else do you need?” Alisson started in the 2018 World Cup - his performance largely forgettable yet not poor - but the competition between the two has a strong chance of extending all the way until the 2026 World Cup as well. With Alisson joining Liverpool this summer, fans would do well to brace themselves for the longstanding narrative of comparing the two goalkeepers for many years to come.

NCAA Preseason Goalkeeper Rankings - Women's 2018

cover photo belongs to WSU Student Sports Photos


1. Ella Dederick (Washington State) - 22
2. Lainey Burdett (Arizona) - 21
3. Kaelyn Johns (Dayton) - 21
4. Shae Yanez (Tennessee) -21
5. Marnie Merritt (Mississippi) - 22
6. Arielle Schechtman (Georgetown) - 22
7. Alison Jahansouz (Stanford) - 22
8. Sydney Wootten (NC State) - 21
9. Alex Steigerwald (Murray State) - 21
10. Nonie Frishette (Wake Forest) - 21

Bill says: The biggest news from the senior class is the absence of Penn State's would-be starting goalkeeper Rose Chandler. Chandler's absence is rumored to be due to her pursuit of medical school, leaving an already thin graduating class even barer. Nevertheless, Dederick and Burdett are frontrunners for All-American honors, displaying the confidence and power to potentially make the jump to the professional game. Yanez, Merritt, and Wootten don't necessarily possess the ideal height for a professional goalkeeper but if they - or any senior - can consistently show scouts their ability to cover the goalmouth, they could very easily see themselves on some draft boards come January.


1. Rylee Foster (West Virginia, Canada) - 20
2. Mandy McGlynn (Virginia Tech) - 19
3. Jalen Tompkins (Colorado) - 21
4. Jaelyn Cunningham (Illinois) - 20
5. Mikayla Krzeczowski (South Carolina) - 20
6. Haley Smith (Illinois State, Canada) - 20
7. Sam Miller (Lehigh) - 20
8. Sandy MacIver (Clemson, England) - 20
9. Katie Lund (TCU) - 21
10. Lauren Rood (Stanford) - 20

Bill says: Yet another group with a notable omission. Kentucky's Evangeline Soucie has recently moved on as the goalkeeper coach for the program after a strong sophomore season, where she ended fourth in the class. McGlynn (USA) and MacIver (England) will join their respective schools later than their peers, as both as participating in the U20 World Cup. And similar to last year, Rood will compete for the starting spot with Jahansouz while Katie Lund ended her sophomore year on a strong note, earning a U23 invite with the national team.


1. Laurel Ivory (Virginia) - 19
2. Hillary Beall (Michigan) - 19
3. Brooke Heinsohn (Duke) - 20
4. Lysianne Proulx (Syracuse, Canada) - 19
5. Kaylie Collins (USC) - 20
6. Emily Alvarado (TCU, Mexico) - 20
7. Sydney Schneider (UNC Wilmington, Jamaica) - 19
8. Madison Less (Cincinnati) - 20
9. McKinley Crone (Oklahoma) - 19
10. Hannah Sargent (Western Michigan) - 19

Bill says: Emily Alvarado is set to return to TCU after her U20 World Cup run, where she led her country to a 3-2 win over Brazil in their opening match. It's hard to see how TCU will handle both her and Lund vying for minutes but I'm sure their goalkeeper coach is well equipped to handle the star-studded roster. Beall was set to join her U20 teammates in France before a leg injury forced her removal from the World Cup squad, with no timeline given for a return. Heinsohn and Proulx combined for only a handful of games but are finally looking to take the starting spot with full force. Less and Sargent are hoping to build off their work earlier this summer, appearing for the Cleveland Ambassadors and Columbus Eagles, respectively.


1. Claudia Dickey (North Carolina) - 18
2. Brooke Bollinger (Florida State) - 18
3. Meagan McClelland (Rutgers) - 18
4. Zoe Clevely (Pepperdine) - 19
5. Olivia Sekany (California) - 19
6. Hensley Hancuff (Villanova) - 18
7. Katherine Asman (Penn State) - 18
8. Katie Meyer (Stanford) - 18
9. Mackenzie Wood (Northwestern) - 18
10. Holly Stam (Duke) - 18

Bill says: It's hard to have an appropriate ceiling for freshmen goalkeepers when they have respected upperclassmen to supplant first. While Bollinger's and Sekany's chances at starting seem to be theirs to lose for the time being, Clevely and Meyer may have to wait a year or two before they break through the crowded depth chart. Just about every goalkeeper on the list has USYNT experience under their belt from over the past few years although Dickey's two-sport aspirations (suiting up for both UNC soccer and basketball) are a rare sight for modern D1 programs.


Past Collegiate Goalkeeper Rankings

2015: Preseason and Final
2016: Preseason and Final
2017: Preseason and Final

The Pros and Cons of a Top Hand and Bottom Hand Save

cover photo belongs to EPA

For a shot heading towards the top corner, there are two main approaches for a goalkeeper to attempt the save: a top hand or bottom hand save. The terminology is fairly straightforward. Depending on which side the shot is, the top hand is on the side of the body where the shoulder is closest to the crossbar when the dive is made. If the shot is to the goalkeeper’s right, the left hand is the top hand and vice versa. The decision of hand choice only comes into play for shots in the top third of the goal. Anything lower than head-height is almost certainly the obvious, bottom hand.

 Top hand save

Top hand save

 Bottom hand save

Bottom hand save

There’s a little bit of a debate in some goalkeeping circles as to which approach is better. English goalkeeper Katie Startup wrote on the differences between the top and bottom hand saves - at eighteen years old, no less - but overall there isn't a ton of literature on the subject. Some coaches prefer the top hand acrobatics while others lean towards the simplicity of the bottom hand. Let’s break down the advantages for both types of saves.

Bottom Hand

Starting at the bottom and then heading to the top, the bottom hand save has a number of advantages. Most obviously, the bottom hand is closer to whichever post the goalkeeper is diving towards. With the ease of using the nearer hand on reaction saves, it makes sense to extend their territory for shots floating to the top corner. Whether it is a strong palm or fingertip save, the natural flow to the bottom hand dive matches the simplicity of the save. Additionally, it’s easier to line up the hand-to-ball coordination the closer the hand is to the ball.

The bottom hand save has a very specific bonus factor, one that isn’t discussed much, and it's centered on the wrist. For skipping or lofted balls to the goalkeeper's side, the bottom hand save offers a flick ability unique to the hand. For American audiences, they might remember Stefan Frei’s save that kept Seattle in the 2017 MLS Final. Non-millennial soccer fans may be familiar with Gordon Banks’ immaculate stop on Pele. And of course, our most hipster of readers will be quick to recall David Seaman’s Stretch Armstrong save in the 2003 FA Cup semi-final.

You can actually see a brief moment where Frei first chooses to go with the top hand but instead opts for the bottom hand.

All three are similar in that the flexibility of the wrist helps flick the ball from the goalmouth. This is a major advantage that the bottom hand can offer that the top hand would struggle on. It's almost the equivalent of a forehand throw on a frisbee versus a big bear paw. The forehand throw contains a lot of wrist action while the swatting bear paw has some, but not nearly as much. The danger with this save, that all three goalkeepers could have easily faced (and in Seaman's situation, did), is that it's hard to get a good clearance with this flick. This is why the top hand is preferred on back the bar situations. It's a great last resort to keep the ball out of the net, but there's a decent chance someone will follow up on it as well.

As for disadvantages with the bottom hand, there aren’t many poor aspects to the save, although there are areas the top hand is better at, which we’ll get into later down article. The main disadvantage to the bottom save is that it’s a little tricky jumping off your right foot and reaching for a ball with your right hand, or vice versa as David Seaman tried to pull off against Brazil in 2002. Notice how the narrator heckles the poor Englishman for his lack of jumping. Now Seaman displays a number of poor choices on the goal but had he gone for a top hand save, he would have been significantly closer to the ball and would have had an additional spring to his jump.


Top Hand

The 2018 World Cup offered us a number of memorable goalkeeping moments, some great and some that goalkeepers would like to forget, but it also featured a couple of stellar top hand saves. Russia' Igor Akineev made a wonderful tip over in the 90th minute against Uruguay, both Mohamed El-Shenawy and Lovre Kalinić utilized a top hand correctly, and of course, Courtois showed Neymar a massive paw in their quarterfinal matchup.

Notice how far the ball is redirected off Courtois' hand, along with the other top hand saves linked above. This is a strong advantage to the top hand save. While the wrist does exhibit some movement on the play, the overall strength and leverage of the joint play a big role in making the save, along with the elbow extension and fingers flicking the ball onward. In contrast to the bottom hand's scooping or parrying mechanics (depending on the shot), the top hand implements a tossing motion where the wrist helps retain the momentum of the shot but slightly alters the trajectory of the ball.

While some are against the top hand entirely, the top hand can offer a little more reach across the goalmouth compared to the bottom hand, although it requires some time to cover the distance. If you were to stand with just your right foot on the ground, you can reach higher with your left hand by tilting your hips and shoulders than you could with your right hand. A similar process occurs when diving off the lead foot, the top hand will actually cover more distance (especially the more vertical the jump is) but will need a little more time to do so. This is why top hand saves typically occur when a goalkeeper has the time to move their feet. The graph shows below shows how, over time, the top hand (red line) can actually outcover the bottom hand (blue line).

 Left to right is time passed. Eventually the top hand (red line) will surpass the bottom hand (blue) in distance but is starting farther behind. Not drawn to scale, clearly.

Left to right is time passed. Eventually the top hand (red line) will surpass the bottom hand (blue) in distance but is starting farther behind. Not drawn to scale, clearly.

Additionally, the top hand can get some nice leverage on a ball, more so than the bottom hand in most top corner save occasions. But with all the moving pieces to a top hand save, it's wise to remember what Uncle Ben told Peter Parker: with great power comes great responsibility. The same sentiment rings true for the top hand save. There are a lot of moving pieces and, unlike the bottom hand save, the goalkeeper’s vision becomes blocked by crossing the arm in front of his or her face. And then of course, there’s the danger of trying to use the top hand when the goalkeeper doesn’t have enough time to cover the distance with the hand. So while the top hand may offer some added oof to a save, it can easily leave a goalkeeper flapping at empty air if they don't approach it correctly.



When deciding which hand is the correct one for a save, the main response you’ll hear from coaches everywhere is “use whatever works”. This ties back into the style and personality that comes from each and every goalkeeper. Ideally a goalkeeper has tried both types of saves and has drawn the line on where they feel comfortable with each hand. Some goalkeepers will use their dominant hand regardless of the situation, which can lead to an unnecessary weakness for the goalkeeper. A goalkeeper should be efficient with both hands as they are with their feet, even if they have different preferences between themselves.

However a goalkeeper goes about choosing which hand to use, it’s good to remember the pros and cons of each. The bottom hand can reach the ball quicker and is typically more simple to line up, although it may not offer enough reach or leverage to displace to a ball that requires a goalkeeper to move their feet. The top hand save will typically parry a ball with a strong force and can cover the length of the goal better than the bottom hand, but will need the correct time and footwork to pull off the save.