Conference play kicks off this weekend, as the ACC, Big Ten and Conference USA games are all set to take place.
Keep an eye on these five games heading into Friday.
Friday, Sept. 8
Far and away the best matchup of the weekend, the Hoosiers head to College Park looking to topple the Terps. Both teams have excelled on both sides of the ball, as the incoming freshmen at IU have made their mark immediately, whether through goalkeeper Trey Muse or Mason Toye and Griff Dorsey up front. Indiana’s back line has conceded just once in the first four games, with Grant Lillard looking as imperious as ever. Slowing down Maryland’s attack is no easy task, as Gordon Wild is heating up, with plenty of support from Sebastian Elney, Jake Rozhansky and Eryk Williamson. Numerous outcomes wouldn’t be surprising, from a 1-0 result to a 5-4 shootout. Regardless, it should be must-see TV.
The Cavaliers are riding high into the ACC slate, welcoming the Orange to Klockner Field in a sizzling encounter. Syracuse and Virginia are no strangers to overtime, as the two have played in extra time two times apiece. Sophomore forward Edward Opoku has been electric from the start of the season, carving up defenses for fun and stretching UVA’s opposing. He’ll be a key figure for a Syracuse defense that always is stout at the back. Go-to scorers are in short supply this season for the Orange, though freshman Tajon Buchanan’s emerged as a candidate for that, and he will be needed to crack Sergi Nus and the UVA defense.
Saturday, Sept. 9
Looking to erase a shock mid-week loss against Georgia State, Wake Forest faces a very difficult task against Louisville. The Cardinals had a tough test on Tuesday of its own, drawing 2-2 at home turf against Kentucky. Defender Tim Kubel continues to be an influential factor going forward and in defense, impressing as a marauding outside back. Mo Thiaw is yet to get rolling as well, as he’s played in three of four matches and started just one. The Demon Deacons were cruising before the loss, with Jon Bakero flying out of the gates and midfielder Luis Argudo popping up to score timely goals. The fight to get back on track will no doubt provide an entertaining match.
Marshall (3-1) at No. 19 Charlotte (1-1), 7 p.m.
With a new coach and a high-scoring freshman, Marshall will be seeking to shock the Conference USA when it visits the 49ers on Saturday night. English forward Lewis Knight has five goals from the team’s first four games, as the former Leeds United youth product is another international player making a quick impact. The 49ers have played just twice, as a meeting with UCF was cancelled last week, and Charlotte heads into Saturday’s meeting against Marshall coming off a 3-2 defeat to Coastal Carolina. Marco Sunol-Rojas is the dangerman, as the senior scored a brace in that loss and will look to ensure his side doesn’t endure a second straight defeat.
The former Big East rivals square off in Storrs, with the two sides at the polar opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the start of the season. The Huskies, while decent on paper, have won just one of its first three games, scoring a single goal during that stretch. One of those losses did come against Notre Dame, who are a premier side in the nation, though dropping a meeting against Iona isn’t a good look. Dayonn Harris has yet to score or setup a goal, and the transfer is needed to help spark the attack. The Hoyas have won all four of their matches, holding on to a 1-0 win against UCLA this past Monday. Ifunanyachi Achara’s managed to stay healthy so far, and he’s tied for the national league in goals scored with five from the first four games. His dynamic ability up front has given the Hoyas a new look for this campaign.