A top of the table clash in the Ivy League is the big one to watch over the next few days of the men’s DI season.
Keep an eye on these five games.
Friday, Oct. 20
With three games left in the season and sitting two games above .500, Pitt and head coach Jay Vidovich have a clear target in mind: at least one win in the last three games. That should be enough to get Pitt over the line and into the NCAA Tournament via an at-large bid; a win in Charlottesville or perhaps even a draw would get the job done too. Freshmen have been a big part of the revival, as both Edward Kizza and Alexander Dexter provide the bulk of the goal-scoring threat, combining for nine of the teams 20 goals. Virginia is going to be extra motivated to not only avoid defeat, but also win, as the Cavaliers are winless in their last two games, including a 1-0 loss against Radford on Tuesday. Edward Opoku and co. will be hungry for three points.
Both Notre Dame and Duke don’t have much to fret about what it comes to at-large bids, as both are sitting in the Top 10 in the most recent official RPI. However, they are each within touching distance behind Coastal Division leaders North Carolina. Notre Dame needs the win to stay within three points, and will turn to senior star Jon Gallagher. The Irish can at times be a touch too reliant on the front-runner, and with Markus Fjortoft locking down the Duke defense, Gallagher will need more from strike partner Jeff Farina. Whatever happens, this should be an exciting match at Alumni Stadium.
Saturday, Oct. 21
The Ivy League race is generally one of college soccer’s most compelling on a yearly basis. This year is no disappointment, as smart recruiting from both Columbia and Dartmouth have the two tied atop the table heading into this clash. Along with that, both teams are within range to suggest that the Ivy League could snag two at-large spots this season. Junior Justin Donawa is the spark plug in the final third for the Big Green, as he leads the team with seven assists, forming a dangerous tandem with Eduvie Ikoba. Wyatt Omsberg is an imperious presence at the back that will look to slow down Columbia target man Artur Bosua. Winner of this clash in New Hampshire holds the edge over the final stretch of the season.
One of college soccer’s surprising sides at this stage of the season is none other than FIU. Despite losing games to hurricanes and battling through the challenges of the Conference USA travel schedule, FIU hasn’t lost in 12 games. New Mexico, always a tough team to beat, provides the latest test, though the Panthers have the obvious edge serving as hosts. Junior forward Santiago Patino’s emergence as the scoring leader has been a big boost, leading the offense with 12 goals. Alessandro Campoy and Paul Marie serve as Patino’s accomplices in creating in front of goal. The Lobos, coming off a mid-week draw at home against UCLA, rely on U.S. U20 MNT veteran Aaron Herrera to score and create, as he sits on five goals and five assists this season.
Sunday, Oct. 22
This season hasn’t been a banner one for the Pac-12, though California remains right in the thick of the regular season race. Washington isn’t too far behind, and whichever winner emerges from this one keeps up with Stanford. The Golden Bears won at home between the two last Sunday, as senior Jose Carrera-Garcia nabbed the winner. This time, Washington will look to return the favor when Cal finishes its two-game swing to the Pacific Northwest (the Golden Bears lost Thursday night at Oregon State in overtime). Blake Bodily and Handwalla Bwana are two of Washington’s key players to keep an eye on up in Seattle.