Photo by North Carolina Athletics
An exciting weekend is coming up for PDL Players to Watch in college, with several involved in a pair of big, in-state rivalry showdowns.
Friday opens the weekend slate well, as Syracuse and Louisville meet in ACC play with four PDL players taking the field on either side.
Saturday is the real treat, as Duke and North Carolina meet in a massive ACC clash with seven players on either side representing the PDL this past summer. It doesn't end there, however, as a DII showdown between Northwest Nazarene and Cal Baptist and an NAIA battle between Northwest University (Wash.) and Corban also grace the schedule.
Finally, Sunday closes things out with a true Big Ten clash in the state of Michigan as the Michigan State Spartans and Wolverines meet in an duel of undefeated teams. Elsewhere, Colorado Mesa and Regis provide another DII match between a pair of unbeaten teams.
With plenty to watch this weekend, here's your full guide to where your attention is best utilized.
The weekend kicks off on Friday with a huge ACC showdown between top-25 opponents as Syracuse takes on Louisville.
The Orange enter Friday’s clash unbeaten but still seeking their first ACC win of the season after a draw against Virginia one week prior. K-W United FC defender Kamal Miller is joined by Reading United AC midfielder Mo Adams and forward Hugo Delhommelle for the Orange, with the latter having assisted the game-winner earlier in the week against Oregon State and Miller having scored on a penalty in the same match.
The Cardinals are coming off their first loss of the season, a 3-1 drubbing from Wake Forest in their ACC opener, but remain strong at 3-1-1 this year. Led by FC Tucson forward and No. 6 PDL Top Prospect Tate Schmitt, who scored the Cardinals’ lone goal against the Demon Deacons, Louisville will attempt to bounce back with their first ACC win as well.
Opening the Saturday slate is a big in-state ACC rivalry as the Tar Heels of North Carolina take on the Duke Blue Devils.
UNC enter Saturday’s battle perfect in their last three, with their lone blemish on the year a loss against another in-state rival in UNC-Wilmington, but already having secured their first ACC win last weekend against Pittsburgh. They take the field with five PDL players in tow, including goalkeepers James Pyle of the Charlotte Eagles and Alec Smir of the Carolina Dynamo, Wilmington Hammerheads FC midfielder Cameron Lindley, and two forwards in North Carolina FC U23’s Alexander Rose and Tobacco Road FC’s Alan Winn.
The Blue Devils remain unbeaten on the year, only suffering a single draw to Presbyterian on Sept. 5, and will try and keep it that way in their second ACC match of the season. New York Red Bulls U23 forward Brian White notched a goal and assist in the team’s ACC-opening win last time out against Virginia Tech. He’s joined by PDL teammate Markus Fjortoft as Duke tries to make it two-for-two in conference play.
Two teams on strong runs in NCAA DII continue Saturday’s action as Northwest Nazarene welcome Cal Baptist in the afternoon.
Despite a season-opening loss to Dixie State University, Northwest Nazarene has bounced bark marvelously over their next three matches. During the three-game winning streak, Northwest Nazarene have outscored opponents by a combined 6-1 total, including two clean sheets. They’ll try and make it four in a row in their final non-conference game before embarking on their GNAC campaign.
Cal Baptist, on the other hand, have been a juggernaut to start the season. Aside from a 1-1 draw against Sonoma State, the Lancers have dispatched opponents by a combined margin of 15-1 in their three wins, including a 7-0 victory over Cal State San Marcos. In their final non-conference match, Fresno Fuego midfielder Joey Chica will try and replicate his success last time out, as he recorded a goal and an assist in the team’s 4-1 win against Chico State.
Finally on Saturday, an NAIA showdown takes the spotlight as Northwest University of Washington and Corban meet in CCC conference play.
The Eagles have had a mixed bag to start the year, having split their four matches so far in alternating win-loss fashion. After a big 5-0 defeat at the hands of The Master’s University, the Eagles bounced back with a 5-4 overtime win against the University of Antelope Valley, and most recently took down Linfield College by a 3-0 final score.
Corban have looked strong so far this season, still unbeaten as they enter their conference slate, with a lone draw against Westmont College as their lone blemish. The Warriors also most recently took on Linfield College and won by a final score of 4-0. Led from the back by Portland Timbers U23 goalkeeper Jordan Farr, they’ll try and make the most of back-to-back conference matches on Friday and Saturday.
Sunday closes out the weekend in explosive style, led off by an undefeated, in-state rivalry Big Ten showdown between Michigan State and Michigan.
The Spartans have been untouchable to start the year, winning all six of their matches to start the season, including their Big Ten opener against Rutgers last weekend. Led by K-W United FC midfielder Kevin Krolicki and Chicago FC United forward Ryan Sierakowski, the Spartans would love to hand the Wolverines their first loss of the season.
Meanwhile, Michigan have also looked very strong to open their slate, winning four and drawing two of their first six. With a Big Ten win against Wisconsin and draw against Indiana under their belt already, the Wolverines will hope to hand the Spartans their first bad result of the season. Led by Michigan Bucks forward Francis Atuahene, who has one goal on the year so far, the Wolverines will aim at keeping things moving forward with a zero in the loss column.
A DII clash of unbeaten teams closes out the weekend, as Colorado Mesa meet Regis University in RMAC play.
Colorado Mesa has begun their season with a four-match winning streak, only surrendering a single goal in the process, including a big 2-0 win over then No. 7-ranked St. Edward’s University. FC Tucson midfielder Moshe Perez has been a big contributor so far this year, scoring one game-winner, and collecting two assists, one of which was another game-winning goal for Colorado Mesa. He’ll hope to step up and be clutch once more for the Mavericks and keep them unbeaten.
Regis University has experienced an ideal start to the season as well. Though the Rangers have played just two matches, they won each in convincing fashion, 3-0 over Concordia University and 4-0 over Cal State Monterey Bay. They’ll open their RMAC slate on Friday, but could be forgiven for looking ahead to Sunday’s undefeated clash.