A Glance At The Fall 2020 College Soccer Season To Date And A Few Observations.

College Soccer News brings you up to date with a quick look at the outcome of fall contests so far and a few thoughts regarding what has taken place and what to expect moving forward.

A Little Background - The Participants 

The Atlantic Coast Conference minus Boston College and the Sun Belt Conference which consists of Central Arkansas, Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Coastal Carolina are the two conferences that are playing a scaled down fall season. Kentucky, South Carolina, UAB who are members of Conference USA in men's soccer and  Mercer out of the Southern Conference are among other teams playing a limited fall season.

A Few Observations

Coming off of a lengthy offseason, the fall season has not lacked intensity as players have been eager to get back at it but it also has had the look and feel in the early going of what you might expect to see in a traditional spring season play in years past with teams knocking off the rust, and experiencing a learning curve as they seek to jell as a team and settle into a rhythm of play on both sides of the ball.

Teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference usually ease into conference play with a slate of resume building non-conference opponents that hone their skills before they get into ACC play and begin the process of beating up on each other. That's not the case this fall with a pretty much conference only schedule.

North Carolina, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Syracuse have not yet played a fall "regular" season fall contest.

Georgia State has looked good with season opening wins on the road over Mercer and South Carolina.

Wake Forest opened up with an impressive 3-1 win on the road over Louisville and Pittsburgh looks to have plenty of offensive firepower with a season opening 3-1 on the road win over a Notre Dame team that already had the benefit of a game with Kentucky under their belts.

The announcement that the NCAA Division I Council has proposed moving the 2020 fall men's college soccer championships to the spring of 2021, conditions permitting, has created a little light at the end of the tunnel for programs not currently playing. Under the proposal the spring season would get underway on February 3, 2020 and run through April 27, 2021 with a thirty-six team NCAA Tournament beginning on April 30, 2021. 

On-going due diligence by players and programs is warranted and needed to maintain the safety of players and to facilitate the eventual return by all to the field of play. The lessons learned by the teams that are currently playing and traveling should provide some best practices based on expeirence that can be utilized by others. 

Several freshmen have made an impact in the fall season to date. Forward Daniel Russo at Notre Dame, midfielder Nick Pariano at Duke and forward Bertin Jacquesson at Pittsburgh are among the newcomers who have made key contributions.  Look for the play of newcomers in general to continue to improve as they gain experience.

The Results To Date On The Field Of Play

Notre Dave 1 - Kentucky 0 - September 17 - The Irish and the Wildcats kick off the 2020 fall season with Notre Dame prevailing behind solid team defense and a goal in the 62nd minute of play by freshman forward Daniel Russo.

Georgia State 2 - Mercer 1 - September 18 - Georgia State won its fourth straight contest over Mercer with senior forward Aris Briggs scoring in the 10th and the 81st minute of the contest.  Junior forward Trevor Martineau netted the lone goal for Mercer in the 69th minute.

South Carolina 2 - Georgia Southern 0 - September 19 - Sophomore Logan Frost scored what proved to be the game-winner in the 32nd minute for the Gamecocks. Sophomore forward Brian Banahan added the second South Carolina goal with ten seconds remaining in the contest.

UAB 3 - Central Arkansas 2 (ot) - September 19 -Central Arkansas began life without senior striker Niklas Broadacki whose tenure for the Bears included fifty career goals and a program best three Conference Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors.  The contest was tied at halftime with Joseph Buete scoring for UAB in the 8th minute of play and Soren Jensen converting a  penalty kick for Central Arkansas in the 15th minute. 

It looked like Central Arkansas might take charge when Edorardo Calzola scored in the 53rd minute to give the Bears a 2-1 advantage but Aodhan O'Hara converted a penalty kick for UAB in the 61st minute to give the Blazers new life. UAB prevailed in overtime when Buete found the back of the net for the second time in the 95th minute.

Kentucky 4 - Duke 2 - - September 21 - Kentucky got back into the win column and got their attack in gear at home after a season opening 1-0  loss on the road to Notre Dame.  Midfielder Jack Doran, who missed the 2019 season due to injury,  gave Duke the early lead when he converted a penalty kick in the 18th minute. The Wildcats netted their first goal of the year when Aime Mabika sent a header into the back of the frame out of a corner kick in the 25th minute. Daniel Wright responded with a Duke goal in the 33rd minute. Kalil ElMedkhar then sent a blast into the back of the net in the 42nd minute to knot the match at 2-2.

Kentucky took control of the contest in the second half with Bailey Rouse sending a header into the net out of a corner in the 76th minute to break the tie and give Kentucky a 3-2 advantage. Junior forward Daniel Evans then scored for Kentucky from six yards out in the 86th minute to close the books on the Blue Devils for the evening and conclude the scoring.  

Kentucky had an eighteen to six advantage in shots.  It was a good rebound win for the Wildcats who are now 1-1-0 season to date.  Duke will seek to take advantage of the experience they gained in this one when they return to Durham to host NC State.

Mercer 3 - Georgia Southern 0 - September 22 - This one was all Mercer. The Bears outshot the Eagles 23 to 3 taking control in the second minute of play when midfielder Dylan Gaither scored out of a free kick from just outside the box. Mercer got the best of the run of play for the remainder of the half but was unable to find the back of the net and the score remained 1-0 at halftime. Forward Gideon Dawson scored at close range for Mercer with a double assist from Kevin Kim and Ricardo Packer Jr. in the 51st minute and junior forward Trevor Martineau added the final goal in the 64th minute of play.

Mercer improves to 1-1-0 while Georgia Southern drops to 0-2-0.  

Georgia State 3 - South Carolina 1 - September 24 - Matthew Fearnley and Jeryn Hodge scored within a 53 second span in the first half of play to give Georgia State the edge they needed to secure the win over the Gamecocks and put a halt to a twelve match South Carolina winning streak against the Panthers. Kyle Gurrieri scored South Carolina's lone goal in the 68th minute. Freshman Simon Carlson sealed the win for Georgia State when he scored in the 85th minute of the match. Both teams had an eleven shot evening.  

Wake Forest 3 - Louisville 1 - September 25 - This match between two ACC teams was considered a non-conference contest. Wake Forest came out strong with senior forward Machop Chol finding the back of the net in the 5th minute and sophomore forward Calvin Harris scoring in the 35th minute of play. The teams went into halftime with the Demon Deacons up 2-0. Louisville forward Pedro Fonseca scored out of a free kick in the 47th minute for Louisville to narrow the gap to 2-1. Junior forward Kyele Holcomb added the insurance goal for Wake Forest when he converted a penalty kick in the 51st minute after being fouled in the box. 

The Deacons played without redshirt senior back and College Soccer News Preseason All-American Michael DeShields who was injured in Wake Forest's exhibition match against Pittsburg. DeShields is expected to make a complete recovery.  The Demon Deacons were also without the services of midfielders Aristotle Zarris and Justin McMaster who are recovering from ACL injuries.

The season opening win over the Cardinals was a solid start for a Wake Forest program that is celebrating its 40th season of men's soccer. 

Georgia Southern 3 - UAB 2 - September 26 - Georgia Southern did a good job of taking advantage of the scoring opportunities that came their way to secure their first win of the season after season opening losses to South Carolina and Mercer.  Midfielder Alhaji Tambadu and forward Adam Davie scored in the first half of play to send the contest into intermission with the Eagles up 2-0. Midfielder Gaye Diadie scored out of a corner kick in the 67th minute for Georgia Southern to make it a 3-0 contest. 

Midfielder Cale Loughrey scored from twenty-eight yards out and midfielder Grayson Dupont scored with less than ten seconds remaining for UAB to close the gap to 3-2 but it was too little too late for the Blazers.  UAB is 1-1-0 while Georgia Southern is 1-2-0.   

Duke 1 - NC State 0 (ot) - September 26 - Duke head coach John Kerr secured his 200th career win when freshman midfielder Nick Pariano scored from 12 yards out with less than ten seconds remaining in the contest. Will Pulisic had one save in goal for Duke. Leon Krapf had one save in goal for NC State. Both teams played well on the defensive side of the ball but both teams struggled to get into a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball.

Pittsburgh  3 - Notre Dame 1 - September 26 - The contest was knotted 1-1 at halftime but Pitt took charge in the second half due to an own goal and a goal by freshman Bertin Jacquesson in the 73rd minute of play to secure the win. Alexander Dexter scored for Pitt in the first half. Michael Pellegrino scored Notre Dame's lone goal in the first half.  

This was considered a non-conference contest. The two play again on October 30 in a match that will count in the ACC standings. Pitt played without College Soccer News Preseason All-American senior forward Edward Kizza.  It was a very good on the road win for a Pittsburgh team that looks to have all the ingredients needed to build on the success the program had last year. 

NC State's George Asomani Is Looking To Make The Most Of An Uncertain Season - By Dela Agbotse

College soccer is reeling from the effects of the covid-19 pandemic with powerhouse soccer conferences including the Big East, Big Ten and PAC 12 opting to postpone soccer for the fall season. The Atlantic Coast Conference on the other hand will be playing a modified season and NC State midfield talisman George Asomani will be looking to make the most of it.

The Ghanaian is entering his senior year at NC State, having started 18 games for the wolfpack in 2019 as a junior. Nicknamed “Maestro” for his ability to control a game from midfield, Asomani will be raring to go, when the season resumes. Prior to NC state, Asomani played two seasons at Monroe College where he was an NJCAA First Team All-American in 2018.

Asomani cemented his reputation in college soccer in 2019 as one of college soccer’s most exciting midfield players with some exceptional displays for NC State. Asomani is something of a throwback, as he's a player at the core of the wolfpack who can do a bit of everything. Indeed, he plays with a spark in the middle of the park, with the ability to cut off passing lanes and hound opponents in possession. It's on the ball, as a playmaker where he's most effective, the Ghanaian possesses an excellent passing range, a turn of pace and feet that allow him to slalom past opponents.

Asomani has room to improve but is already one of the top players in the ACC and in college soccer as evidenced in his recent selection to the ACC men’s soccer pre-season watchlist for 2020. With the ACC college soccer regular season fast approaching, the young Ghanian has one thing on his mind and that is to show his full ability at the college level and continue to work towards his dream of playing professional soccer.  

Like so many who reach the top of their profession, it's been a difficult route to get to where he is today, from the streets of Accra to Dail soccer stadium. The sky’s the limit for the young Ghanian who will be fully focused on the task at hand when the Wolfpack travel to Durham to kickoff their regular season against a difficult opponent in Duke on Saturday September 26.

Dela Agbotse is a contributing writer for College Soccer News. 

College Soccer. Opportunity Will Knock For These Difference Makers and Impact Players.

College Soccer News takes a look at some of the players from coast to coast who will play a key role in the level of success their teams will have in the fall or spring and explains why they are important ingredients. 

Grayson Barber– Junior – Midfielder – Clemson – The Tigers have to address the productivity that they will be without due to the departure of Hermann Trophy winner Robbie Robinson (18g, 9a). Don’t overlook the significance of the contribution that Barber has in Clemson’s high-octane Tiger offense. He is a game-changing player. Last year he scored ten goals and led Clemson in game-winners with four. He also contributed nine assists. Barber adds balance and explosiveness to what should again be a potent and multi-dimensional Tiger attack in 2020.

Paul Bin – Redshirt Senior – Forward – Maryland – The Terps are very tough to top when they are able to apply pressure, create turnovers, and quickly press the attack.  Bin is back after missing the 2019 season due to an ACL injury. He played a key role in Maryland’s run to the national championship in 2018. Bin is an exciting playmaker with the speed and quickness to stir up opposing defenders and enhance the effectiveness of the Terp’s pressure-oriented style of play.

Aris Briggs – Senior – Forward – Georgia State – Briggs is a prime timer who has been a difference maker on the offensive side of the ball for Georgia State.  He will be heavily marked and perhaps double-teamed at times in 2020. Briggs’ ability to continue to come up with the big plays while being a heavily marked man will have a huge impact of the level of productivity that the Panthers have in 2020.

Nathan Crofts – Senior – Forward – Virginia – Crofts (6g, 3a) is a three-year starter and playmaker who the Cavaliers will depend on to play a key role in filling the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball due to the departure of forwards Daryl Dike (10g, 8a) and Daniel Steedman (3g, 7a) and midfielder Joe Bell (7g, 4a). Crofts is primed and prepared for a productive 2020 season.

Jack Doran – Graduate Student – Midfielder – Duke – Doran, a team captain, missed the 2019 season due to injury. He was a starter as an outside midfielder for the Blue Devils in 2017 and 2018. Doran along with veteran goalkeeper Will Pulisic and defender Matthias Frick will bring sturdy play, experience, and leadership to a Duke squad that returns five starters from the 2019 season and will likely lean heavily on a highly regarded eleven-member recruiting class. 

Emil Elveroth – Senior - Forward – Louisville – Elveroth had two very productive seasons at UNCW before transferring to Louisville last year. He started seventeen games for the Cardinals in 2019 and contributed three goals. Elveroth is a goal scorer who now has the advantage of a year of play at Louisville. He enters his final season at Louisville with the potential to give the Cardinals the additional punch they need on the offensive side of the ball to move upward in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference hierarchy.

Owen Finnerty – Sophomore - Goalkeeper – Michigan – The Wolverines had a program best 0.79 goals against average last year. Finnerty entered the starting lineup at Michigan in 2019 when standout netminder Andrew Verdi was injured.  He held his own in goal during the seven contests in which he was Michigan’s starting goalkeeper. The experience Finnerty gained last year and the grit he displayed bodes well for continued success for Finnerty and the Wolverines. 

Drew Fisher – Sophomore – Forward – Colgate – Colgate needs to up its productivity on the offensive side of the ball in order to increase their win total. Last year they only scored a total of sixteen times. Fisher had a promising freshman season in 2019 during which he started eighteen contests and contributed four goals and three assists. If Fisher gets the traditional freshman to sophomore bump in the level of his play, he could prove to be a headliner and just what the doctor ordered for the Raider offense. 

Jacob Graiber – Graduate Student – Defender – UIC – The Flames won the Horizon League regular season title last year but their season came to an unexpected end when they were upset by Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament. Graiber, who was the 2019 Horizon League Defender of the Year, has been an iron man and impact player for UIC since joining the program in 2017. Whenever the Flames return to the field you can count on rock solid play and leadership from Graiber. 

Mitch Guitar – Senior – Midfielder – Wisconsin – Guitar, a 2018 All-Big Ten Second Team selection, returns after missing the 2019 season due to injury. He is among several potential difference makers at Wisconsin who were either unable to play in 2019 or hampered by injury.  A healthy Guitar will add additional skill and toughness to a Wisconsin team that seeks to rebound from an injury hampered three win 2019 season.

Brandon Hackenberg – Red Shirt Senior – Defender – Penn State – The trend line is upward for the Nittany Lions who improved from six wins in 2018 to twelve wins in 2019. Improvement in offensive productivity from eighteen goals in 2018 to thirty-eight in 2019 was a big factor in that. The departure of Aaron Molloy (9g, 6a), the 2019 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, creates a big gap on the offensive side of the ball that sophomore forward Liam Butts will hope to help address. However, solid play and leadership on the defensive side of the ball is equally important for continued success in Jeff Cooks third year at the helm of the program. Hackenberg is the guy with the athletic ability, experience and grit to provide that.

Ids Hannema – Junior – Forward – Wright State – The Raiders will seek to build on a historic 2019 season in which they secured the program’s first ever Horizon League Championship, first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament, and first ever win in the NCAA Tournament. However, they will have to do it without the firepower that midfielders Deri Corfe (14g, 8a), Stefan Rokvic (9g, 5a) and Jackson Dietrich (6g, 7a) provided. Hannema (7g, 2a), who appeared in twenty-one contests with sixteen starts last year, is among the returning players who will be counted upon to fill the rather big void that exists and keep the momentum alive.

Eric Iloski – Senior – Midfielder – UCLA – Iloski enters his senior season at UCLA with three years of starting experience under his belt. He is among the veteran Bruin players who must set the pace and provide leadership in order for UCLA to move upward in the Pac-12 conference and begin to regain the standing the program used to enjoy on the national scene.

Carson Jeffris – Red Shirt Senior – Forward – James Madison – Jeffris played in only eight contests last year with four starts due to injury. In 2018 he appeared in twenty-two games with eight goals and four assists. JMU looks to be in a rebuilding mode in 2020. A healthy Jeffris could help fill the rather large gap that exists due to departures and add the punch to the attack that JMU will need in order to maintain the level of success they have had the past few seasons. 

Leon Krapf – Redshirt Junior – Goalkeeper – N.C. State – Krapf was the Pack’s starting goalkeeper in 2017 and 2018 but was injured in the first contest of the 2019 season and had to sit out the entire year. He has worked hard to rehab and return to the Wolfpack lineup.  Krapf is a proven and experienced  technician between the pipes whose return is a huge plus for a NC State squad that is eager to get back on the pitch. 

Paulo Lima – Junior - Midfielder – Providence - Lima had a breakout season last year in which he contributed eight goals and two assists and was named an All-Big East Second Team selection. The departure of Trevor Davock (6g, 8a), Joao Serrano (4g, 9a) and Tiago Mendoca (4g, 4a) means that Lima will be among the players who the Friars will count on for offensive productivity whenever they resume competitive play.  

Einar Lye – Junior – Midfielder – St. John’s - Junior forward Tani Oluwaseyi (11g, 5a), who became the first Johnnie to be named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year last year since 1996, returns to power the attack but to be effective the offense has to be multi-dimensional. Lye who contributed five goals and five assists last year has the ability to add the balance to the offense that the Johnnies will need in order to build on a very productive 14-5-1 2019 season.  

Giovanni Montesdeoca – Senior – Forward – North Carolina – Montesdeoca, a starter in 2018 who is back from injury, is a marquee guy with top end touch on the ball and the potential to be a game-changing player. He had a career high eight goals with four assists for the Tar Heels in 2018. His return to the lineup will add an additional dimension to North Carolina’s offensive arsenal.

Daniel Pereira – Sophomore – Midfielder – Virginia Tech – Pereira enters his sophomore season at Virginia Tech off a brilliant freshman campaign during which he exceeded expectations with a five goal and five assist year. It’s likely that Hokie head coach Mike Brizendine thought Pereira would contribute as a freshman. He just didn’t know how much. Pereira’s ability to build on the things he did well last year will factor into the level of success Virginia Tech experiences in 2020.

Veljko Petkovic – Sophomore – Midfielder – Pittsburgh – Petkovic had a formidable freshman season in which he finished second on the team with six goals and five assists. Senior forward Edward Kizza (12g, 4a) will continue to be a force up top. Petkovic’s ability to add balance to the Panther attack and keep it from being one dimensional is a vital element in Pitt’s ongoing effort to take the program to a higher level.

Stefan Sigurdarson – Sophomore – Forward – Boston College – The Eagles have opted out of fall play in the ACC. However, when they do return to the field of play chances are pretty good that Sigurdarson, who is a rising star, will build on a very productive 2019 rookie season during which he led Boston College with eight goals and four assists. Sigurdarson’s offensive prowess will have a big impact on the level of success that Bob Thompson’s team has in his inaugural season as the Eagle head coach.

Tommy Williamson – Senior – Forward – California – Williams is coming off a breakout 2019 campaign during which he led the Golden Bear attack with nine goals and was an All-Pac-12 Second team selection. His ability to build on the success he had last year will be among the key factors that will impact the level of success that California has when they resume play.

Aristotle Zarris – Junior – Midfielder – Wake Forest – The need to replace an All-American is a challenge that Bobby Muuss is familiar with. Filling the void that exists due to the graduation of All-American midfielder Bruno Lapa is the current challenge. Departures at Wake Forest provide the opportunity for someone else to step in. Opportunity knocks for Aristotle Zarris in 2020. He is among a talented and very capable group of returning Demon Deacon midfielders who will have the opportunity to fill the void. In 2018 Zarris contributed five goals and five assists and was named to the All-ACC Freshman team. Last year he scored three goals and added four assists.