Tuesday October 15 - Key Games Including Several Upsets Occurred - What Happened At A Glance

The pace continues to heat up as teams coast to coast seek to enhance their standing with resume building wins. It is not to late for teams to rally and turn their seasons around. Depth is a factor as the season progresses.   

Wake Forest 5 - William and Mary 0 - This one was all Wake Forest from the get-go. Bruno Lapa converted a penalty kick in the twenty-second minute to start the scoring. Calvin Harris and Kyle Holcomb added goals in the first half with Aristotle Zarris contributing the helper on both goals. The Demon Deacons added two more goals in the seventy-third minute. Nico Benalcazar scored out of a corner kick served in by Omar Hernandez and Kyle Holcomb threaded a shot inside the near post after receiving a cross from Lapa to conclude the scoring for the evening.

Wake Forest improves to 11-2-0 while William and Mary drops to 4-6-2. 

Georgia  State 1 - Charlotte 0 - This one took place at TransAmerica Field in Charlotte. The 49ers had a twenty-three to four advantage in shots but Georgia State had the upper hand in the only statistic that mattered with sophomore forward Matthew Fearnley netting the lone goal of the contest in the twenty-sixth minute when he sent a bender into the upper left-hand corner of the goal from just outside the box.

Charlotte head coach Kevin Langan pretty much summed things up from Charlotte's perspective when he stated, "It's kind of a weird feeling because we played so well. We absolutely dominated the game from start to finish.  We outshot them 23-4, we hit the crossbar, had balls hit off the line. We absolutely battered them and we lose the game; that's soccer."  

Georgia State head coach Brett Surrency stated, "I'm proud of the guys tonight and their ability to bounce back after the disappointment of Saturday (a 2-1 loss to Georgia Southern). They truly had to compete and grind with everything they had tonight and I'm very pleased for them."

Charlotte sustains its first loss of the season to drop to 8-1-3. The 49ers have a big CUSA contest on Friday when they travel to Miami to face FIU. Georgia State halted a two game losing streak to improve to 7-2-3. 

Virginia 1 - James Madison 0 - This contest between number one ranked Virginia and number nineteen ranked James Madison took place at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville. It looked like this one might be scoreless until Virginia's junior forward  Irakoze Donasiyano decided otherwise when he controlled a loose ball and drove it into the top left shelf of the goal from thirty-five yards out to give the Cavaliers the edge they needed to secure the win.  

Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch stated, "What a way to win the game on a spectacular goal like that. It was a good game and JMU is a very good team.  That's the same team that beat a couple of ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament last year and the same team that beat Wake Forest this year when they were number one. They are an ACC quality opponent with that group."  

James Madison mentor Paul Zazenski stated, "Tonight was a tough result against a team that has yet to be beaten. Our guys battled all night and had opportunities that just didn't fall. UVA scored a great goal and sometimes you just have to tip your hat. Proud of our group on the night despite the outcome."

Colin Shutler had five saves in goal for Virginia to record his tenth clean sheet of the season.  T. J. Bush had three saves in goal for James Madison.

Virginia improves to 11-0-1 and moves forward to host a tenacious Pitt team on Friday.  A determined James Madison team drops to 9-4-1 and returns to Harrisonburg with a tough CAA contest on tap Saturday when they host UNCW at Sentara Park. 

UNCW 0 - Coastal Carolina 0 (ot) - This non-conference contest took place in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Both of these teams have historically had productive attacks but neither could manage to break the code on their opponents defense in this scoreless battle. UNCW had an eight to seven advantage in shots including a twelve to six advantage in corner kicks.  Coastal Carolina has not scored in their last five contests and has managed a total of only eleven goals to date.

UNCW is 7-4-2 and now travels to face James Madison in a CAA contest on Saturday.

Coastal Carolina is 4-6-2 and will travel to Boone, North Carolina to face Appalachian State on Saturday in Sun Belt play.

Yale 1 - Massachusetts 0 (ot) - Kylie Stannard's Yale team has now won eight straight after opening the season with a 1-1 tie with Syracuse and a 2-2 tie with Colgate. Senior midfielder Miguel Yuste came up big once again for Yale with two minutes remaining in the first overtime period  when he utilized his left foot to drive a shot from twenty yards out that deflected off a Massachusetts defender and found its way into the right side of the frame. Ryan Matteo and Jake Schaffer were credited with a double assist on Yuste's difference making goal.

Both sides had goals disallowed due to offside calls.

Stannard stated, "I'm really proud of the guys for finding a way to win a really tough match." He added, "UMass is much better than their record and has competed closely with everyone they've played. We knew this was going to be a battle, and it certainly was."

Elian Haddock had two saves in goal for Yale to post the shutout. Marvyn Dorchin had five saves between the pipes for UMass.

Yale improves to 8-0-2 but has a challenging Ivy League contest on their dance card when they host a very good Cornell team on Friday.  The Bulldogs will need to put together two strong halves of play in that one if they hope to keep their win streak alive. Massachusetts has now lost eight straight contests to drop to  4-9-0. The Minutemen will seek to get back into the win column when they travel to Pittsburgh to tangle with Duquesne in an Atlantic 10 match on Saturday.

Marshall 4 - Loyola Marymount 1 - The Thundering Herd traveled to the west coast and secured an impressive win over a good LMU team in a somewhat physical contest.

Marshall took control early in the contest when Pedro Dolabella sent a header into the back of the net in the nineteenth minute that was served in by Jonas Westmeyer.  Jamil Roberts made it 2-0 Marshall when he scored in the twenty-second minute with a double assist from Milo Yosef and Dolabella. The Herd continued to roll with Yosef scoring in the twenty-fifth minute after receiving a pass from Roberts to stretch the lead to 3-0. Gaetan Roux pulled one back for LMU when he converted a penalty kick in the sixty-fourth minute to make it 3-1. Yosef added the final score of the evening for Marshall when he scored in the eighty-fourth minute to make it 4-1.

Marshall head coach chris Grassie stated, "It was a really crazy match. A definite game of two halves. We dominated the first half with three goals. Then in the second half, the match became very physical and there were a lot of heavy challenges and restarts we had to deal with. LMU moves the ball well and we had to respond."

Paulo Pita had three saves in goal for Marshall.  Jacob Jackson also had a three save evening in goal for LMU.

Marshall ups their record to 9-1-2 and remains on the west coast where they will tangle with San Diego State out of the Pac-12 on Friday in what could prove to be a difficult matchup for the Herd.  LMU drops to 6-4-3 and will host Portland in a crucial West Coast Conference game on Saturday.   

Rutgers 2 - Hartford 2 (ot) - This one was a tale of two halves with Hartford getting the best of it in the first stanza and Rutgers the second.  Both teams initially had trouble settling into a rhythm but that changed in Hartford's favor in the thirty-fourth minute when sophomore midfielder Tomer Drimmer sent a bullet into the left corner after receiving a cross from Jovante Etienne to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.  The two teams went into intermission with Harford up 1-0. The Hawks came out of gate strong in the second half with a Connor Aksoz goal set up by a cross from Etienne to make it 2-0. The second goal appeared to be a wakeup call of sorts for Rutgers with Pablo Avila scoring in the forty-seventh minute for Rutgers and Jackson Temple in the sixty-seventy minute with an assist from Anthony O'Donnell to knot the score at 2-2 and conclude the scoring for the evening.  

Hartford extended their unbeaten streak to eleven games and is now  7-2-4. The Hawks will host Vermont on Saturday in what shapes up to be a challenging America East contest.  Rutgers is  7-3-3 and will travel to face Northwestern on Sunday in a Big Ten Conference contest that both teams need to win in order to get  back on track. Rutgers and Northwestern are both 1-3-1 in conference play.

NC State 0 - South Carolina 0 (ot) - This one took place at Stone Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.  The visiting Wolfpack had a fifteen to five advantage in shots over the Gamecocks but after 110 minute of play the score remained 0 to 0. Both teams had opportunities to score but defense ruled in this non-conference match.  Vinnie Durand had one save in goal for NC State. Nick Brady had six saves between the pipes for South Carolina.

South Carolina head coach Mark Berson stated, "It was a tough, gritty effort for our guys. The guys were well organized, had a good plan and they stuck to it. We had a couple decent chances. Obviously, they're a good team and they got their chances. But I think this gives a lot to build on going forward as we head into a big conference match this weekend."

NC State is 7-3-2 and will tangle with Duke in Durham on Friday in an ACC match. South Carolina is now  5-6-2 and will host FAU on Sunday in a CUSA game.   

Elon 3 - Duke 2 - Duke's Daniele Proch scored out of a counter attack in the sixty-fifth minute and sent a volley into the net in the eighty-third minute but it was not enough to top a determined Elon side that gained momentum and confidence when Burl Shepherd created a turnover and sent a blast into the left corner of the frame from inside the box in the thirty-ninth minute of play to go up 1-0.

Elon went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.  Proch then scored for Duke to tie it at 1-1.  Inigo Bronte responded for Elon when he converted a penalty kick in the seventy-fifth minute of the match to regain the lead at 2-1. Proch then scored for Duke to knot the match at 2-2.

It looked like this one was going to go into overtime until freshman midfielder Vemund Hole Vik made an athletic move to flick a ball served in out of a free kick by teammate Kasper Lehm into the net with two minutes remaining in regulation to give Elon a huge and surprising 3-2 win.

Peter Wentzel had two saves in goal for Elon. Will Pulisic had a five save evening in goal for the Blue Devils.

Elon improves to 5-7-1 and will host Northeastern in CAA play on Saturday.  Duke drops to 6-5-1 and will seek to reorganize and halt a two game losing streak when they host a very good NC State team on Friday in an ACC contest.

Penn State 3 - Pittsburgh 1 - Penn State gains momentum with a solid win over a very competitive Pitt team.  Pitt pressed the attack in the early going but was unable to penetrate the Penn State defense. The momentum shifted to the Nittany Lions when Callum Pritchatt was fouled in the box and senior midfielder Aaron Molloy converted a penalty kick in the thirty-seventh minute. The score remained 1-0 at halftime.  Penn State took charge with Liam Butts and Jalen Watson scoring within a two and a half minute span at the start of the second half.  Bryce Washington netted the lone goal for Pitt with an assist from Veljko Petkovic in the eighty-fourth minute.

Penn State coach Jeff Cook stated, "This is an important victory for us this season. I'm impressed with how the players handled themselves. Pitt's an outstanding program in the ACC so we knew this game had a lot of meaning in terms of not only the in-state rivalry but also postseason implications."

The Nittany Lions improve to 7-2-2 and will travel to face Wisconsin on Saturday in a Big Ten Conference game. Pitt is now 6-5-2. Things don't get any easy for the Panthers who travel to Charlottesville on Friday to take on number one ranked Virginia in ACC play.

Louisville 1 - Northern Kentucky 0 (ot) - This one was much closer than expected and was scoreless at the end of regulation. Emil Elveroth scored the game-winner for Louisville in overtime when he sent the rebound of teammate Izaiah Jennings' missed shot into the bottom left corner of the net. Louisville pressed the attack and controlled the run of play for most of the game with a twenty to four advantage in shots for the evening. Jake Gelnovatch had one save in goal for Louisville. Baj Maan had nine saves for Northern Kentucky.

Northern Kentucky head coach Stu Riddle stated, "I couldn't have asked for anything more from the lads tonight. They battled hard and gave absolutely everything they had and were minutes away from a credible result."

Louisville improves to 6-4-2 and will host Boston College on Friday in a key ACC matchup. Northern Kentucky is now 4-7-1 and will host Green Bay in a Horizon League game on Saturday.  

South Florida 4 - Jacksonville 1 -  It was clear early on that this one was going to be dominated by South Florida. Senior defender Jonathan Rosales' goal in the twelfth minute gave South Florida a 1-0 lead that they took into halftime. Avoinne Flanagan, Henrique Gallina, and Ignasi Lupon Fores scored for the Bulls in the second half. Reggie Nicolas netted the lone goal for Jacksonville in the eighty-first minute.

South Florida head coach Bob Butehorn stated, Overall. I'm really pleased with the guys' performance and how they came together, started fast, put them under pressure and scored great goals.  So for me it was a good day all around for these guys."

South Florida improves to 8-3-0 and now travels to tangle with Temple in Philadelphia in an AAC contest. Jacksonville fell to 4-5-2 and does not return to the pitch until Wednesday. October 23 when they take on South Carolina in Columbia.

Saint Louis 1 - Denver 0 - Sophomore midfielder John Klein's goal in the fifty-eighth minute proved to be the difference in this one.  Kobe Gray had two saves between the pipes for Denver. Patrick Schulte continues to take care of business for Saint Louis between the pipes with a three save evening in goal.

Saint Louis extends its winning streak to six contests to improve to 9-3-0. The Billikens will host Dayton on Saturday in an important Atlantic 10 contest.  Denver drops to 2-8-2 and will face another difficult team when they travel to take on Oral Roberts on Saturday.

Loyola Chicago 3 - UIC 1 - The Ramblers gain momentum with a solid win over a good UIC team. Aidan Megally converted a penalty kick in the twelfth minute to give Loyola Chicago an early 1-0 advantage.  Abdulwahab Bukola got UIC back into the mix when he tied it at 1-1 six minutes later when he controlled a deflection at the top of the box and decisively deposited it inside the far post. Billy Hency responded for Loyola Chicago when he converted a header out of a corner kick in the twenty-third minute to give the Ramblers a 2-1 lead that they took into intermission. Fabian Becera iced the game for the Ramblers in the sixty-third minute when he found the back of the net from eight yards out to conclude the scoring for the evening.

Loyola Chicago head coach Neil Jones stated, "It's always a goal of ours every single season to be the best team in Chicago. There's three other very good teams here in this city that we always battle with in many ways. I'm very pleased with the performance tonight, just very proud of the guys. I thought it was a great team effort both offensively and defensively."

The Ramblers win their fourth consecutive contest to up their record to 8-3-1. Their next match is on Wednesday, October 23 when they travel to Peoria to face Bradley in a key MVC game.  The Flames are now 9-4-0 with Oakland on their upcoming dance card in a Horizon League contest on tape for Saturday.

Princeton 3 - Lehigh 0 - Lehigh fell behind early and could never get into a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. Frankie DeRosa and Danny Hampton scored for Princeton in the first half. Daniel Diaz Bonilla scored via a deflection in the second half to make it 3-0 Princeton.  Princeton junior goalkeeper Jack Roberts had four saves including a stop of  a penalty kick in route to recording the shutout. 

Princeton improves to 7-3-1 and will host Columbia in Ancient Eight play on Saturday. Lehigh falls to 8-4-1 and will seek to regain their rhythm and grit when they travel to face a talented and tough Navy squad on Saturday in a key Patriot League matchup.

Akron 2 - Michigan State 0 - Freshman Will Jackson redirected the rebound of his own missed shot back into the goal to get Akron on the board in the thirty-eighth minute. David Egbo sent a bullet into the upper right corner from thirty yards out in the fifty-seventh minute to seal the win.  Joe Bowles had one save in goal for Akron.  Hunter Morse had three saves in a losing effort for Michigan State.

Can Akron get back on track in MAC play? The Zips are 3-8-1 overall and will seek to gain traction and new life in MAC play when they travel to take on a good Western Michigan team on Sunday . Michigan State is 2-7-3 and will next host Ohio State on Saturday in Big Ten Conference action.

Upset Watch. Key College Soccer Contests On Tap This Weekend Coast To Coast

Upset alert. The potential for upsets exists this weekend in key matchups across the country.  Teams have now settled in and developed a rhythm on both sides of the ball but the grind can take a toll and the margin for error is always small when talented teams face each other.

Virginia (10-0-0) at Boston College (7-2-2) – Friday – This ACC matchup belongs at the top of the potential upset watch list. The number one ranked Cavaliers have been sharp on both sides of the ball but they face a tough challenge when they travel to tangle with a young Boston College team that has matured as the season has progressed. The Eagles are undefeated in their last five contests during which they upset highly regarded Wake Forest 2-1 at home and tied nationally ranked Virginia Tech 2-2 on the road. 

SMU (9-0-1) at South Florida (6-2-0) – Friday – Add this one to the potential upset watch list. SMU comes into this American Athletic Conference contest in Tampa off a high profile and emotional 3-3 tie with Central Florida at home. It is a plus that the Mustangs had the grit to be able to come from two goals down to secure the tie but problematic that they put themselves in that situation.  The Mustangs have a high-powered attack led by forward Garrett McLaughlin (9g, 2a) and defender Eddie Munjoma (6g, 6a) among others that is averaging 3.4 goals per contest and a lock down defense that has been very effective with the exception of the contest with Central Florida.

South Florida’s resume to date includes a 2-0 win at home over Louisville. The Bulls have played well with the exception of a disappointing 2-0 loss at home to Ohio State during which they failed to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that came their way. South Florida has the chance of pulling off the upset if they put together two complete halves of play and finish their scoring opportunities. If they can’t, SMU will take charge of the match and depart Tampa with a win. 

Oregon State (5-4-1) at Washington (10-1-0) – Sunday – Washington returns to the friendly confines of Husky Soccer Stadium after topping Stanford 2-1 and California 1-0 on the road last week. The Huskies are averaging 2.09 goals per game while allowing only .45.  Oregon State comes into this one off a 2-1 loss to California and a 1-1 tie with Stanford.  The Beavers have not had the season to date that many thought they might have but nonetheless they have several players with big play ability who could pose problems for Washington if they get into a grove.  Oregon State has defeated Washington three out of the last five times the teams have faced each other.  

Washington is 5-0-0 at home this year and should extend that streak this weekend if they play to their potential and don’t let up.

St. Mary’s (9-1-0) at Santa Clara (6-3-1) – Saturday – On paper this West Coast Conference matchup should be all St. Mary’s but games are not played on paper. Santa Clara comes into the contest with the momentum that comes with a four-game winning streak that has included three consecutive shutouts.

This one could be interesting if, and that’s a big if, the Bronco defense anchored by freshman goalkeeper Guillem Badenes Mecho and sophomore center back Emil Christensen can contain a very high-powered St. Mary’s attack that is fueled by Anders Engebretsen (9g, 7a), Joseph Restani (7g, 2a) and Jake Rudel (4g, 1a). 

Marshall (8-1-1) at Charlotte (8-0-2) – Saturday – Something has to give in this one. Charlotte has been solid on both sides of the ball and is undefeated after ten games for the first time since the 1991 season. The 49ers are tough to beat in general but even more so when they are playing at home. Marshall is also having a banner season so this one shapes up to be one of the better contests of the weekend. The Herd has won their last four games during which they outscored their opponents fourteen to two. Charlotte and Marshall are both 3-0-0 in CUSA play.  

Michigan (5-2-3) at Indiana (7-1-3) – Sunday - Michigan is undefeated in their past seven games (4-0-3) and is 2-0-2 in Big Ten play.  The Wolverine defense anchored in goal by Andrew Verdi has posted four straight shutouts.  Transfer forward Nebosja Popovic (6g, 3a) has added another dimension to a Michigan offense that already included several very explosive finishers.

Indiana is unbeaten in their last thirty-two home matches at Jerry Yeagley Field which speaks volumes but Michigan has a chance to halt that streak if they are able to successfully apply pressure on the offensive side of the ball while remaining organized defensively.  Indiana’s backline of senior Simon Weaver, redshirt junior A.J. Palazzolo, redshirt freshman Daniel Munie, and sophomore jack Maher will be tested in this one. Ditto that for the Michigan backline of senior Abdou Samake, juniors Austin Swiech, Jackson Ragen and Joel Harrison and freshman Carter Payne. 

Villanova (7-3-1) at St. John’s (10-1-0) – Saturday – The margin for error for both teams is small in this Big East Conference game that will take place in Belson Stadium. Defense has been Villanova’s calling card so far this year. The Wildcats anchored in goal by Carson Williams have allowed only three goals in eleven contests and will come into this one off a 1-0 win over a very good James Madison team. Nine of Villanova’s eleven games so far this year have been 1-0 contests. All three of their losses were 1-0 games. The Wildcats opened the year with a 5-0 win over Delaware but have only scored a total of six goals in their next ten matches. St. John’s has a balanced offense led by Tani Oluwaseyi (7g, 1a) that has produced a total of twenty-four goals and a stout defense that has allowed only five.

Chances are pretty good that this one will be decided by a single goal. Lapses in play on the defensive side of the ball will be costly.  

FIU (8-0-3) at Kentucky (6-1-3) – Sunday - This is among the more intriguing matchups of the weekend. Both teams are very good but question marks exist regarding just how good.  Both teams have talented finishers who are capable of taking over a game. This one will come down to which team gets into a rhythm and puts in a solid ninety minutes of play. Look for the play in goal of Daniel Gagliardi for FIU and Enrique Facusse for Kentucky to play a key role in the outcome. FIU is 3-0-0 in CUSA play while Kentucky is 1-0-1. Kentucky comes into this game after a scoreless tie on the road Wednesday night against Indiana. FIU squandered a two goal lead against in-state foe FGCU on the road on Tuesday night but rallied to prevail 3-2 in overtime.

Virginia Tech (6-2-2) at Pitt (5-4-2) – Friday - Virginia Tech is experienced and battle tested. Pitt is still a work in progress but a dangerous work in progress to face. Edward Kizza (7g, 2a) is at the heart of Pitt’s attack. Kristo Strickler (8g, 3a) is the main man in Virginia Tech’s offense.  Both are capable of taking over the contest.  The Hokies come into this one off a scoreless tie on the road with Clemson.  Pitt comes into the match off a 6-0 win over Howard. This ACC contest is up for grabs.

UC Santa Barbara (8-2-2) at CS Fullerton (8-3-1) – Saturday – This is a momentum building game. UCSB has momentum. CS Fullerton is trying to regain it.  The Gauchos are undefeated in their last nine straight games. CS Fullerton needs a win in this Big West Conference contest to get back on track and halt a free fall. Last weekend the Titans were topped 1-0 by James Madison and 2-1 by Maryland on the road and they opened Big West play on Wednesday night with a 1-0 loss on the road to CSUN.  Junior forward Christian Pinzon (5g, 7a) and redshirt senior midfielder Oscar Flores (5g, 3a) power the CS Fullerton attack while senior Paul-Andre Guerin anchors a defense that has allowed a total of only ten goals in twelve contests. 

A hot UC Santa Barbara team began Big West play on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Sacramento State. A win over CS Fullerton would clearly signal that the Gauchos are back. UCSB is undefeated in their last nine games including a 3-3 tie with Stanford and a 2-2 tie with San Diego. Junior Rodney Michael (2g, 3a) is the catalyst on the offensive side of the ball for the Gauchos along with forward Will Baynham (4g, 5a) and freshman midfielder Finn Ballard McBride (4g, 2a).  Ben Roach anchors the UCSB defense in goal. This one is going to come down to the play on the defensive side of the ball.

Louisville (5-3-2) at Clemson (9-1-1) – Friday – This one will come down to whether or not Louisville can contain a high powered multi-dimensional Clemson attack. Clemson is coming off a 0-0 tie in which Virginia Tech was able to keep the Tiger offense in check. Louisville is coming off a 2-0 loss on the road to number one ranked Virginia.  Louisville has been up and down with impressive wins over Virginia Tech 2-1 and Georgetown 1-0 as well as unexpected losses to South Florida 2-0 on the road and NC State 2-1 at home. 

It would be a mistake to look past Louisville but if both teams play to their potential Clemson should come out on top in this ACC match. 

Wake Forest (9-2-0) at North Carolina State (7-2-1) – Friday – This is the strongest and deepest NC State team that George Kiefer has put on the pitch to date in his tenure in Raleigh. The Pack has ACC wins over Boston College, Louisville on the road, and Notre Dame and a loss to Virginia. Wake Forest is also 3-1-0 in ACC play with wins over Pitt, Syracuse and Clemson and a loss to Boston College. The winner of this one will have to put in a full ninety minutes of play.

Give Wake Forest and their offense the edge but if they fail to bring their “A” game on both sides of the ball the Wolfpack is talented and experienced and tough enough to pull off the upset.

Dartmouth (4-4-1) at Yale (6-0-2) – Saturday – Yale began Ivy League play last week with a 3-1 win over Harvard in which they had a twenty-three to nine advantage in shots. The Bulldogs are off to a great start but the level of competition picks up a click this week when Dartmouth comes to town on Saturday. The Big Green has not been as strong on the defensive side of the ball this year as they have in the past. Regardless, it remains to be seen whether the Yale attack led by senior midfielder Miguel Yuste (5g, 2a) and junior playmaker Mark Winhoffer (2g, 8a) can dent the Dartmouth defense. Dartmouth is also 1-0-0 in Ancient Eight play with a 1-0 win over Princeton.

Look for the margin of victory in this one to be a single goal.

Georgia State (6-1-3) at Georgia Southern (5-5-1) – Saturday – This Sun Belt Conference battle will take place in Atlanta. Georgia State goes into this rivalry match with Georgia Southern off a disappointing 3-1 loss to Lipscomb in which they were unable to get their offense in gear and allowed their opponent to place three in the back of the net for the first time this year. Georgia Southern is having what might best be described as a roller coaster season with highs and lows and will come into the contest off a 3-2 win over Wofford and a 1-1 tie with South Carolina in which the Gamecocks scored to tie the match in the final minute of regulation.

The big question in this one is whether or not Georgia Southern can contain Georgia State’s offense led by forward Aris Briggs (9g, 1a).  If they can then this one may go down to the wire.  If not, Georgia State should prevail.

The Difference Between Winning And Losing Can Be Small. A Look At The Top Ten Teams

All teams have strengths and opportunities for improvement. The best find the right balance between offensive productivity and effectiveness on the defensive side of the ball.  A look at the top ten teams in the College Soccer News National Poll and the factors that will shape the remainder of their season.   

Virginia – 9-0-0 – Offensive productivity. A young Virginia team was rock solid on the defensive side of the ball last year but they lacked the offensive punch needed to take their game to the next level.  This year their attack has matured with eleven different players finding the back of the net in the Cavaliers first nine contests. Sophomore forwards Daryl Dike and Daniel Steedman and juniors Joe Bell, Nathanial Crofts and Irakoze Donasiyano are among those who have scored twice to date while Virginia has held opponents to only one goal.

Stanford – 7-1-1 – A multi-dimensional attack. Stanford’s Achilles heel in the early going last year was their inability to score. That has not been the case this year with freshmen forwards Ousseni Bouda (3g, 3a) and Gabe Segal (4g, 0a) joining redshirt sophomore forward Zach Ryan (4g, 1a) and senior defender Tanner Beason (3g, 1a) among others to provide an additional dimension to the attack.  Last year Stanford was shutout three times in their first nine contests during which they scored a total of thirteen goals while allowing only two. This year during the same time period the Cardinal has scored twenty-two times while allowing seven goals including five in their last two contests (3-3 tie with UCSB and a 2-1 loss to Washington).  Stanford’s attack is a plus since it gives them the ability to come from behind to win but it is problematic if lapses on the defensive side of the ball put them in a hole, as it has the last two contests, that causes them to have to play catchup. 

Wake Forest – 8-1-0 – Defense - The Demon Deacons entered the season needing to find the right balance between offensive productivity and defensive toughness with a focus on the need for improvement on the defensive side of the ball.  They have accomplished that for the most part with a potent attack that during nine contests has produced seventeen goals and a defense that is led by redshirt goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg and backs Michael DeShields, Eddie Folds and Alistair Johnson among others that has only allowed five goals. Two of the goals allowed came in the Deacons 3-2 come from behind win over a highly productive Clemson team.

SMU – 9-0-0 – Experience counts. SMU entered the 2018 season with a lot of key gaps to plug. As a result, they experienced growing pains in the early going but settled in and improved as the season progressed. With a very solid contingent of returning players supplemented by several experienced transfers, the Mustangs hoped to build on the success that they enjoyed last year. They have done just that with an explosive attack led by forward Garrett McLaughlin (8g, 2a), defender Eddie Munjoma (6g, 5a) and midfielder Knut Ahlander (4g, 8a) that has produced thirty-goals and a defense anchored by goalkeepers Shane Lanson and Grant Makela and back Talen Maples than has allowed only three goals. Transfers forward Nick Taylor (0g, 2a), midfielder Gabriel Costa (3g, 4a) and defenders Henrik Bredeli and Brandon Terwege have all contributed.  

Washington – 9-1-0 - Big play ability. Washington was very competitive last year but the lack of big play ability and the toughness needed to prevail on the road placed a ceiling on their success. Significant improvement in both of those areas has been a difference maker to date for Washington. Both were reflected in the Huskies recent 2-1 on the road win over Stanford in which Lucas Meeks (6g, 0a) netted the game-winner in overtime. The Huskies have another big test coming up when they travel to face California on Sunday.    

Clemson – 9-1-0 – Play to their potential for a full ninety minutes. The Tigers entered the 2019 season off a down year in 2018 in which they uncharacteristically had costly lapses in play on the defensive side of the ball and trouble finishing scoring opportunities. What a difference a year can make. Clemson has displayed an opportunistic attack powered by Robbie Robinson (8g, 2a), Kimari Smith (11g, 2g) and Grayson Barber (5g, 5a) that has netted thirty-eight goals in ten contests and an improved defense that has allowed a total of ten goals and recorded four shutouts. The Tigers have a tough three game stretch in front of them that includes contests at home against Virginia Tech and Louisville and Syracuse on the road. Clemson’s attack looks to be among the best in the country.  If they have any weakness it is on the defensive side of the ball.

Georgetown – 7-1-0 – Consistency – This is a deep and very talented Georgetown team. It is a big plus that they continue to find a way to win even when they have had difficulty putting together two good halves.  Junior forward Derek Dodson (3g, 5a) and sophomore midfielder Zach Riviere (4g, 1a) are among those who provide punch to the attack. Junior transfer Paul Rothrock (1g, 6a) is a playmaker who has added an additional dimension to the attack.  A 1-0 loss on the road in overtime to Louisville is the only blemish on Georgetown’s record so far this year.  When they are on their game the Hoyas are very good but they are at risk with a small margin for error when they are unable to get into a rhythm against those teams that match up well with them.

St. Mary’s College - 8-1-0 – One game at a time.  You don’t win as many games as the Gaels have won over the past two seasons without being very good. But this is a team with a big target on their chests which means that they have to take it one game at a time and bring their “A” game to every contest if they hope to continue to win. St. Mary's can't look past anyone. 

Charlotte – 7-0-2 – Unified. The 49ers play well together as a team and they work hard which makes them a difficult side to face. They are good but, in the past, have had trouble winning the big games that could go either way. So far this year they have a 0-0 tie with West Virginia on the road and a 1-1 tie at home with Kentucky in big games. Teddy Chauuche (6g, 6a) and Joe Britto (2g, 1a) are at the heart of the 49er engine. Goalkeeper Elliot Panicco anchors a Charlotte defense that has only allowed six goals. Charlotte has a big CUSA game down the road with FIU but in the meantime they have to get by FAU on the road, Marshall at home and non-conference foe Georgia State at home.

Indiana – 6-1-2 – Youth development -The Hoosiers entered the season depending on a lot of newcomers to make an impact. Todd Yeagley has done a good job of merging his newcomers in with returning players. A lot of freshman have been in key roles and have performed well.  It helps that significant reloading is taking place throughout the Big Ten this year. Indiana has Big Ten Conference wins so far over Wisconsin 3-1 and Northwestern 3-1. The toll, if any, that the grind of the season will have on the young Hoosiers remains to be seen as well as how they will fare as they get into the heart of the Big Ten schedule. This is a good Indiana team but they are young and learning on the job in the Big Ten can be difficult. The Hoosiers will be tested when they travel to face Penn State on Sunday and host non-conference foe Kentucky the following Wednesday.