It’s another action-packed weekend across all divisions of college soccer, as Premier Development League players take the field Friday through Sunday in plenty of top-ranked matches.
From a showdown between Maryland and Indiana, just one of three top-25 ranked match-ups in NCAA DI this weekend, to a DII top-ten match between Cal Poly Pomona and Simon Fraser, there's plenty of top quality action to watch.
Friday’s slate is heavy across the board, but Saturday and Sunday are no slouches with some of the most intriguing matches of the weekend.
It's a top-five clash when Maryland and Indiana meet this Friday, with a pair of PDL teammates facing off as collegiate opponents.
The Terrapins enter the match still perfect on the season with a 4-0-0 record, an ideal start before what's sure to be a grueling Big Ten conference schedule. Tampa Bay Rowdies U23 midfielder Andrew Samuels takes the field for Maryland, as he'll look to get the better of the match-up against his PDL goalkeeper on the other side of the field.
It'll be up to Sean Caulfield, the Rowdies U23 keeper, to stop Samuels and the Terrapins and ensure that the Hoosiers leave the match still perfect as they enter with a matching 4-0-0 record. Whichever of the two teammates can come up bigger on Friday will send his team forward with a great start in Big Ten play.
Virginia and Syracuse do their best to match Maryland and Indiana, featuring in a top-15 showdown of their own with an absolute glut of PDL talent on display.
The Cavaliers remain perfect so far this year, and will want to keep it that way as they open their ACC schedule with one of the more difficult opponents on the slate this season. Four PDL players will aim to make that so, as Colorado Rapids U23 keeper Jefferson Caldwell, Fresno Fuego defender Sergi Nus, Cincinnati Dutch Lions forward Kennedy Nwabia, and AC Connecticut forward Edward Opoku take the field for Virginia.
On the other side of the ball, the Orange line up their own PDL talent. K-W United FC defender Kamal Miller is joined by Reading United AC midfielder Mo Adams and forward Hugo Delhommelle as they'll try and topple the Cavaliers' perfect start. Syracuse remains unbeaten entering the match, but not perfect thanks to a hard-fought draw against Princeton in non-conference play.
Meanwhile, in NCAA DII, another big-time, top-20 showdown gets underway when Colorado Mesa takes on St. Edward's.
Colorado Mesa find themselves as winners of their first two matches of the season. Helping them to that distinction is FC Tucson midfielder Moshe Perez, and he'll hope to put in a solid shift against very difficult opposition on Friday night.
St. Edward's also find themselves 2-0-0 to start the season, and while it is early yet, this is a team that is thought very highly of by the fellow DII coaches, who have them ranked top-ten in the current rankings. They'll hope to keep it that way with a win against their toughest match yet this season.
Another top-25 clash features for NCAA DII on Saturday, when Chico State welcome Cal Baptist to an in-state showdown.
On the Cal Baptist side of the field is Fresno Fuego midfielder Joey Chica. Amusing name similarity between 'Chica' and 'Chico' aside, the PDL midfielder has helped guide Cal Baptist to a 2-0-0 start to the season and has them ranked early in the year. He'll hope to keep them perfect over the weekend.
On the other side, Chico State also sits on a perfect start to the year, 2-0-0 themselves. This non-conference clash gives them an opportunity to prove themselves ahead of the start of conference play, but they'll have a very hard time against a strong Cal Baptist team.
Saturday's top-ten clash between Louisville and Wake Forest has all the makings of a must-watch for PDL fans, with three of the top six PDL Top Prospects in action.
On Louisville's side, just one PDL player takes the field, but he's a very talented one. FC Tucson forward Tate Schmitt, current No. 6 PDL Top Prospect, has been hot to begin the year for the Cardinals. Louisville has suffered just a single draw as the sole blemish on their 3-0-1 record so far this year, but they'll hope to hand Wake Forest its second loss of the season.
On the Demon Deacons side of the field are the No. 2 PDL Top Prospect in Carolina Dynamo forward Jon Bakero and the No. 3 Prospect in Michigan Bucks midfielder Brad Dunwell. They're joined by GPS Portland Phoenix midfielder Emmanuel Twumasi. However, that wasn't enough to stop Wake Forest from suffering their first loss of the season last time out against unranked Georgia State. Can they bounce back against an even tougher opponent Saturday?
Finally, NCAA II closes out the weekend on Sunday with yet another top-ten clash as Cal Poly Pomona takes on Simon Fraser.
Simon Fraser lines up with a pair of PDL talents in Calgary Foothills FC midfielder Kyle Jones and Sounders FC U23 midfielder Adam Jones. The two Jones will enter Sunday's match as the second of Simon Fraser's Rimrock Classic matches. The team won their season-opener on August 31st against the University of Mary by a stunning 8-0 scoreline, a show of intent that impressed.
Cal Poly Pomona meanwhile has opened their season with three wins of their own and find themselves highly ranked entering the fourth match of the year. After bulldozing through their first three opponents, they'll face a much tougher test in Simon Fraser, but will aim to remain perfect nonetheless.