Photo by Georgetown Athletics
Another weekend, another slate of matches thick with PDL Players to Watch taking the field in big-time showdowns.
Friday opens the slate with a heavy dose of action, including a pair of ACC showdowns as North Carolina and Wake Forest clash in a top-five battle while Clemson simultaneously hosts Notre Dame in a top-25 clash. The Big East also contributes to Friday’s schedule, as Georgetown and Butler meet in a fascinating battle atop the standings. Finally, Lindsey Wilson and Cumberland clash in a top-25 NAIA match, with both teams seeking to remain unbeaten in conference play.
On Saturday, another top-level mid-conference showdown is on schedule, as giant-killers Akron take on surprising giants Western Michigan. With both team having claimed some big-name victories this season, this MAC battle will be a must-watch on Saturday afternoon.
Finally, a pair of NCAA DII matches closes out Saturday’s schedule. First, Cal Baptist takes on Point Loma Nazarene in a clash between two impressive teams so far in 2017. Elsewhere, Palm Beach Atlantic takes on Rollins College in a top-25 showdown.
Opening the weekend slate on Friday is a Big East showdown between conference powers as Georgetown and Butler clash.
The Hoyas enter the match in the midst of a three-match winning streak, with the two most recent wins taking place within the Big East. Georgetown has been in peak form for most of the year, and they currently boast a 7-1-1 record as a result. Led by a pair of New York Red Bull U23 teammates in midfielder Christopher Lema and forward Zachary Knudson, the Hoyas will try to seal their third conference victory against Butler.
While Butler’s 7-2-0 record lags slightly behind the Hoyas, the Bulldogs are no slouches by any means. Their only two losses on the year come to ranked opposition in Western Michigan and Louisville, and the Bulldogs boast a superior 3-0-0 record in conference play with wins over Creighton, Providence, and St. John’s. Butler are lead from the rear by Oklahoma City Energy U23 goalkeeper Eric Dick, who has been rock solid in goal for the Hoyas.
Friday’s slate includes arguably the biggest ACC match of the season to date as North Carolina host local rival Wake Forest.
North Carolina haven’t lost since September 1st, the sole blemish on their otherwise flawless record, and want to keep their current nine-match winning streak running. The No. 4-ranked Tar Heels haven’t allowed a goal in their last three matches, winning them by a combined 11-0 margin. Led by Charlotte Eagles goalkeeper James Pyle, Carolina Dynamo goalkeeper Alec Smir, Wilmington Hammerheads FC midfielder Cameron Lindley, North Carolina FC U23 forward Alexander Rose, and Tobacco Road FC forward Alan Winn, North Carolina will look to make an ACC statement with another big win.
On the other side of the field, the No. 2-ranked Demon Deacons will try and keep their own long winning streak intact. Wake Forest hasn’t lost since September 5th, similarly their only loss of the season as well, and is currently on a seven-match winning run. Led by their high-powered trio of Michigan Bucks midfielder Brad Dunwell, Carolina Dynamo forward Jon Bakero, and GPS Portland Phoenix midfielder Emmanuel Twumasi, the Demon Deacons will try and seize firm control of the ACC race with a win.
Friday night also plays host to a second huge ACC showdown, this time between Clemson and Notre Dame.
The Tigers enter the match on the heels of their first loss since September 8th, as they fell to the aforementioned Tar Heels on September 29th. The result was just their second loss of the season, and the Tigers remain a dangerous threat in the ACC at 8-2-0. Led by a duo of Nashville SC U23 defender Tanner Dieterich and SIMA Aguilas midfielder Malick Sarr Mbaye, Clemson will seek a massive bounce-back victory over Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish have persevered through one of the most difficult schedules in the nation to remain a problem in the ACC as well. Currently sitting at 7-2-1, the Fighting Irish are coming off a 2-1 overtime win against Northwestern as part of their blended ACC/Big Ten schedule. Led by Chicago FC United forward Jeff Farina, Notre Dame will attempt to hold on to their winning ACC record in a tough contest against the Tigers.
Friday night also hosts a big-name NAIA showdown when Lindsey Wilson host Cumberland College.
The Blue Raiders enter Friday’s match with a sterling 6-1-0 record, the lone blemish coming in a tight 1-2 loss to No. 4 Rio Grande that isn’t a bad loss by any stretch. Since that loss, Lindsey Wilson took down Shawnee State in their first conference match before dismantling Georgetown College in their second by an astounding 10-0 result. Led by Charlotte Eagles midfielder Mutaya Mwape, the Blue Raiders will try to make it three-for-three in conference play on Friday.
The No. 23-ranked Cumberland Phoenix have started the year strong as well, with an 8-1-1 record so far in 2017. They’ll enter the match against No. 11 Lindsey Wilson on a six-match unbeaten run, though they could only manage a draw in their last match against No. 12 Campbellsville University. They’ll try to do better on the road again and knock off the Blue Raiders from the top of the conference table.
Saturday continues the weekend action with a bit of MACtion as Akron clashes with highly-ranked Western Michigan.
Though sitting just on the other side of the top-25 line in the most recent rankings, the Zips have battled to a 7-2-1 record through an insane schedule this season. Five of their ten matches have come against top-25 opposition with the Zips earning a 3-2-0 record in those matches, including wins over No. 10 Washington, No. 21 UMass Lowell, and No. 1 Michigan State last week. Led by Texas United defender Joseph Korb, the Zips will try and take down yet another top-25 foe.
The Western Michigan Broncos have been hugely impressive in the 2017 season, battling to a 9-1-1 record so far this year. Included in those nine wins are big results against No. 15 Butler and No. 22 Michigan. The team’s lone loss is no terrible mark either, as the Broncos fell to a very difficult Portland Pilots team. They’ll try and avoid becoming another victim of the Zips penchant for knocking off top-25 teams.
Continuing Saturday’s action is a big-time NCAA DII clash between Pacific West Conference rivals Cal Baptist and Point Loma Nazarene.
Cal Baptist have started the season as well as they could’ve hoped, remaining unbeaten on the year through eight matches with a 7-0-1 record. The team has been offensively impressive, led by Fresno Fuego midfielder Joey Chica, as they’ve scored four or more goals in all but two of their matches this season. That scoring record has led them to a perfect 3-0-0 start in conference play, which they’ll hope to extend against Point Loma.
Across the field, Point Loma have been almost equally as strong to begin the season. Currently sitting at a 6-2-1 record, the Sea Lions remain undefeated in conference play, earning 3-0-1 mark through their first four matches. After a pair of losses to open the season, the Sea Lions have gone seven straight unbeaten, including six straight wins before last Saturday’s scoreless draw with Notre Dame De Namur.
The NCAA DII action continues on Saturday, as No. 17-ranked Rollins College welcome No. 8-ranked Palm Beach Atlantic.
Rollins have enjoyed a strong start to their 207 campaign, as they’ve marched out to a 5-1-1 record through seven matches, with two cancelled in mid-September. After suffering their first loss of the season to No. 5-ranked Lynn College on September 27th, Rollins bounced back with a huge 6-1 win over Nova Southeastern last Saturday. Rollins poses a dangerous threat to Palm Beach Atlantic, as they’ve already toppled top-ten opposition when they took down No. 1 Wingate on September 2nd.
Palm Beach Atlantic remain undefeated on the year entering Saturday’s showdown with Rollins, boasting a 6-0-2 record with draws to Tampa and Lee as their lone blemishes. Led by South Georgia Tormenta FC midfielder Charlie Dennis, the Sailfish won a recent contest against Florida Memorial by a massive 7-0 score-line. It’ll be a more difficult test against Rollins, but the Sailfish will try and stay unbeaten with a positive result.