Photo by Duke Athletics
Finally, we've reached the weekend, and with that we've also reached another exciting slate of collegiate matches featuring plenty of Premier Development League talent.
Friday opens the NCAA DI slate with an ACC showdown between two teams atop the Atlantic Division as Wake Forest take on the Clemson Tigers. With several PDL players on both sides of the field, this match between the No. 2 and No. 6-ranked teams in the country is a must-see.
Saturday hits next with a pair of NCAA DII matches with unbeaten teams on both sides of the field. In the mid-afternoon, the Adelphi Panthers, led by Mississippi Brilla FC forward Andre De Giorgi, take on Southern New Hampshire in a top-15 match-up. Later in the evening, Fresno Fuego midfielder Joey Chica and Cal Baptist will try and stop 7-0-0 Dixie State.
Sunday closes out the weekend in a big way, with a top-level Big Ten showdown between Michigan State and Ohio State, as K-W United FC midfielder Ken Krolicki and Chicago FC United forward Ryan Sierakowski hope to lead the Spartans to an important victory.
An exciting weekend of college soccer starts strong on Friday as two ACC powerhouses battle it out when Wake Forest takes on Clemson.
The Demon Deacons have been red hot lately, currently sitting on a 9-1-0 record this season and finding themselves ranked No. 2 in this week’s coaches’ poll. Led by their PDL power-trio of Michigan Bucks midfielder Brad Dunwell, GPS Portland Phoenix midfielder Emmanuel Twumasi, and Carolina Dynamo forward Jon Bakero, Wake Forest has gone on a run of six straight wins since September 9th, only surrendering two goals over that span while knocking in 14 goals themselves.
Across the field will be the No. 6-ranked Clemson Tigers, who enter the ACC clash on a similar run of four straight wins and an impressive 8-1-0 record this year. The Tigers, led by a PDL duo of Nashville SC U23 defender Tanner Dieterich and SIMA Aguilas midfielder Malick Sarr Mbaye, have scored 11 goals in that span while conceding just once. The winner of the match will take control of the ACC Atlantic division, making this one a must-see.
Saturday’s slate is opened by a massive NCAA DII showdown between two unbeaten teams in Adelphi and Southern New Hampshire
After opening their season with a hard-fought draw against LIU Post, No. 3-ranked Adelphi has gone on a seven-match winning streak with most matches comfortably in hand. During that stretch, they’ve scored an astounding 25 goals for an incredible 3.57 goals per game clip, all while surrendering only five goals themselves. The Panthers have been led by Mississippi Brilla FC forward Andre De Giorgi, who has recorded a team-best 10 goals already this season with four game-winners to his name. He’ll look to keep it going against one of Adelphi’s toughest foes yet.
For Southern New Hampshire, the story has been similar with their lone draw of the year coming slightly later. After opening the season with three consecutive victories, the No. 12-ranked Penmen had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Le Moyne in conference play. Since that time, Southern New Hampshire has gone on another impressive run of three straight wins, leaving them with a comfortable 7-0-1 record on the year.
A second NCAA DII clash of unbeaten teams graces the Saturday schedule, as Dixie State take on California Baptist.
Dixie State have enjoyed an absolutely perfect start to the season, currently sitting at a 7-0-0 record and a likewise perfect start to their conference slate. While winning every match, the team has scored 14 goals and allowed just three themselves. While they haven’t faced an opponent quite as difficult as California Baptist, they’ve proven themselves to be a tough nut to crack.
Hoping to spoil that perfect start will be fellow unbeaten team California Baptist. With the exception of a 1-1 draw against Sonoma State in early September, the Lancers have been an absolute force as they’ve won six matches out of seven. That draw is the only time the Lancers have failed to score four or more goals in a match, as they’ve recorded a truly impressive 29 goals through their seven matches. Leading the way for Cal Baptist is Fresno Fuego midfielder Joey Chica, who has two goals and three assists on the season.
Saturday’s slate closes out with a return to NCAA DI action with a big ACC clash between Duke and Louisville.
The Duke Blue Devils enter Saturday’s cross-division showdown in second in the Coastal Division with North Carolina just ahead and Notre Dame right on their heels. After falling to the Tar Heels a few weeks ago, the Blue Devils have rediscovered their form, winning three straight matches including an important result on the road against Syracuse. In Duke’s most recent win against Appalachian State, New York Red Bulls U23 forward Brian White scored the game-winner and lone tally of the night while fellow Red Bull U23 defender Markus Fjortoft provided 90 minutes of shut-out defense.
Louisville enters the match with a slightly more difficult situation in the Atlantic Division, with Wake Forest and Clemson resting ahead of them in a tight-packed battle for the top spot. The Cardinals also enter on the heels of a surprising draw at home against South Florida, a match they’ll wish they could have back. Led by FC Tucson forward Tate Schmitt, Louisville had won their three previous matches by a combined score of 9-1, including a top-ten victory over Syracuse.
Sunday’s action kicks off in the mid-afternoon, with a Big Ten clash that will have major ramifications at the top of the standings when Michigan State takes on Ohio State.
For Michigan State, the monumental conference clash comes on the heels of a tough upset loss during the week. The Spartans fell 4-1 against the Akron Zips on the road, ultimately tripling their goals allowed this season as their usually staunch defense opened up. Prior to that, the defense had done its job and the Spartans offense, led by K-W United FC midfielder Ken Krolicki and Chicago FC United forward Ryan Sierakowski, had done its job as well and the Spartans now sit with a 7-1-1 record.
Across the field will be the current Big Ten leaders, Ohio State, who find themselves sitting pretty at a matching 7-1-1 record, but a perfect 3-0-0 conference slate so far. If the Spartans’ defense has been good, the Buckeyes’ has been phenomenal. The two goals surrendered in the team’s 2-2 draw with Detroit Mercy last time out represented the second time all year the Buckeyes had allowed any goals at all through nine matches. Ohio State can give themselves some breathing room atop the conference with a win on Sunday, but the Spartans will aim to dethrone them and get back in the hunt.
In a brief out-of-conference lull for each team, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Simon Fraser will face off to close out Sunday’s action.
With a strong 6-2 record, Cal State Dominguez Hills has made a splash in the NCAA DII soccer landscape. Their highlight of the season so far comes from a conference victory over No. 11-ranked Cal Poly Pomona in mid-September, as a tough defense earned Dominguez Hills a valuable, impressive road victory. They’ll aim to scalp their second top-25 opponent of the season as they welcome Simon Fraser to Toro Stadium.
For Simon Fraser, Sunday’s match is a matter of remaining undefeated on the season, as they currently sit at a 5-0-1 record. After a season-opening 8-0 win over the University of Mary, the Clan won a series of close matches with a draw against Seattle Pacific the lone detraction, before earning a big 5-1 win over Concordia University in conference play. Led by Sounders FC U23 midfielder Adam Jones and Calgary Foothills FC midfielder Kyle Jones, the No. 2-ranked Clan will try and remain undefeated this season against Dominguez Hills.