Boys soccer teams are just a few games into the season and it’s already clear that 2019 could be another year when the rich get richer.

It should come as no surprise that CVU and Stowe are off to strong starts, and it’s common knowledge that both teams are among the title favorites in their respective divisions. CVU, aka Soccer Central, has reached the finals 32 times and won 18 titles since 1964. Stowe, the seven-time defending champ in Division III, silenced any critics by moving up to D-II this fall. The Raiders have an exceptional record in the playoffs, going 12-2 in title matches.

South Burlington and Essex own seven titles apiece and are the next-closest thing to soccer royalty around Chittenden County. The Wolves went all the way in 2017 but suffered a first-round playoff loss in 2018. The Hornets endured a rare losing season two years ago and haven’t gone all the way since 2010.

Burlington and Mount Mansfield have both won five titles, but only three outright. BFA-St. Albans is a three-time champ eyeing its first title since 2004. Colchester won it all in 1988 and 2013, but the Lakers are rebounding from three straight losing seasons. St. Johnsbury made its only title appearances in 2017 and 2018, falling short both times.

Here are the Rutland Herald / Times Argus power rankings:

1. CVU (3-0) The Redhawks extended their unbeaten streak to 21 games with a pair of victories during Essex’s Jay Brady Tournament last week. CVU picked apart Rice, 5-0, before rolling to a 6-0 victory over Rutland. The Redhawks returned nine starters and opened the season with a 6-0 win over Burr and Burton. Cullen Swett leads a CVU defense that allowed three goals last year. Midfielders Jonah Roberts and Jami Lashua power the attack along with forwards Jack Sinopoli and James Schmidt.

2. Burlington (2-0-1) The Seahorses are off and running after a tie against Mount Mansfield and victories over Harwood and Montpelier. Jonathan Ishimave and Ajun Kark found the back of the net in a 2-0 win over HU, snapping the Highlanders’ 16-match unbeaten streak. Goalie Owen Harris and fullback Sam Hogg lead a defense that’s given up one goal in 260 minutes. Midfielder Jake Manley scored twice in a 2-0 victory over Montpelier and teammate Finn Rahill is another offensive threat.

3. Essex (3-0) Coach Jake Orr only has one returning starter but you can’t feel too badly for the Hornets after they outscored opponents 17-3 in the first three matches. Essex is strong defensively, led by Burke Hoover, Will Deziel, Kevin Lyon and goalie Andrew Seavers. Sam Price scored twice in a 7-0 win over Mount Anthony, which trailed 1-0 at halftime. Price and Elvis Salkic set up Tyler Santaniello for both goals in a 2-1 win over Rutland. Price scored two goals again to spark an 8-2 victory over Rice.

4. BFA-St. Albans (2-0-1) Scoring sensation Kam Dunsmore has been on a tear for the Bobwhites, recording four goals in three matches. He scored in a 2-1 victory over North Country and added a single goal in a 2-1 win over Mount Mansfield. Dunsmore’s goal in the 51st minute salvaged a 1-1 draw against Missisquoi. Caden Hart is a South Burlington transfer who has been solid in goal for BFA.

5. St. Johnsbury (2-0) The Hilltoppers have recorded eight straight winning seasons, going a combined 27-4-5 the last two years while making back-to-back title appearances. They won’t rely on the same star power as previous years, but an offense-by-committee approach is working so far. Gregor Vogel, Leo Desrochers, Tamilore Ikomi, Tucker Champan and Konrad Tilman scored in a 5-0 win over Spaulding. The Hilltoppers showcased strong defense during a 2-1 victory over Brattleboro. The upcoming stretch will be tough as the Hilltoppers play Mount Mansfield twice during a nine-day span in addition to facing CVU.

6. Mount Mansfield (1-1-1) The Cougars return eight starters from last year, including leading scorers Will Hauf and Tabor Crary. Goalie Ezra Bush and central fullbacks Asher Symanowicz and Charles Rodjenski are also back for MMU, which has not advanced past the quarterfinals since 2006. After opening the season with a 1-1 tie against Burlington, the Cougars suffered a 2-1 loss against BFA and earned a 1-0 victory over Montpelier.

7. South Burlington (2-0). The Wolves lost 13 players from last year’s squad but return leading scorer Samy Slamani, who tallied seven goals last year. Spencer Baker, Tommy O’Leary and Cody Bellinghiri scored in a 3-0 victory over U-32, with Sumner Nenninger notching two assists. Sawyer Hood, Quinn Pidgeon, Reid Leclair and goalie Tenzin Yeshi lead the defense. The Wolves pitched another shutout during a 2-0 win over Colchester.

8. Stowe (2-0) The Raiders are in a new division but were up to their old tricks during a 5-0 victory over Vergennes and a 3-2 win over Peoples Academy. Jack Seivwright, Nick Mitchell and Rai Bleda are three of the primary offensive weapons, while fullback Alex Tilgner brings experience to a back line known for its stinginess. Upcoming matches against Lamoille and Lyndon will shed more light on Stowe’s potential to win an eighth straight crown.

9. Colchester (1-1). Last year’s 8-1 playoff loss against St. Johnsbury still stings, but the Lakers are hungry for payback after returning 10 varsity players. Foster Viau’s hat trick fueled a 3-1 victory over Middlebury, with Sam Clark tallying two assists. The Lakers kept things respectable during a 2-0 loss against South Burlington.

10. U-32 (1-1) Twin brothers Dylan and Trevor Clayton have the raw speed and flashy skills to make the Raiders a tough contender against any opponent. Quentin Mashkuri, Finn Olson and Kayl Humke lead the midfield, while Dane Liebermann, Ben Bazis, Patrick Towne and Jacob Bizzozero anchor the defense.

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