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Men’s DI Preview: Start of Conference Play

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: September 8, 2016

The men’s college soccer season already enters conference play this weekend with the ACC in action. The nation’s top conference is not alone as the Big Ten is also in action with a top five match-up. With the early start to the meaningful games, the third weekend of the season is full of quality fixtures on the schedule. 

Here are five games to watch for this weekend’s slate. 

No. 5 Clemson (3-0) vs. No. 1 North Carolina (3-0), Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. (ET), ESPN3

Clemson welcomes North Carolina to town for the conference opener for both sides. Clemson is 2-0 at home this season with wins over Providence and Creighton. Sophomore goalkeeper Ximo Miralles has one shutout under his belt as well as two wins. He could be in for a lot of work on Friday against North Carolina. The Tar Heels are averaging three goals per game. However, the defense of the top ranked team was exposed a bit last week in the 3-2 win over VCU. North Carolina needs to improve in that area, as Clemson will not easy to break down on the road. 

No. 4 Indiana (3-0-1) vs. No. 2 Maryland (3-0-1), Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. (ET), Big Ten Network

Yep, there are two top five match-ups this week. The Hoosiers host the Terps on Friday in the Big Ten opener for both programs. Indiana is playing without Grant Lillard after he received a red card in the scoreless draw against Stanford. The Hoosiers need to win the battle in the midfield so the defense does not have to do much in the contest. The Hoosiers will be counting on senior midfielder Tanner Thompson to control the game. Gordon Wild leads the way for Maryland with five goals from four games this season.

No. 6 Notre Dame (4-0) vs. Virginia Tech (4-0), Sept. 9, 7 p.m. (ET), ESPN3

Notre Dame looks great through the opening games of the season. Goalkeeper Chris Hubbard has been terrific and the Notre Dame defense has only allowed one goal through four games. The Irish open conference play against Virginia Tech, which also brings a perfect record into the game. Virginia Tech is rolling, but the competition through the first few weeks of the season has not been great, which makes Friday’s match-up even more meaningful as opposing coaches can learn a lot about Virginia Tech from the conference opener against the Irish. 

No. 25 Rider (3-0) vs. Temple (4-0), Sept. 10, 7 p.m. (ET), GoBroncs.com

It is another undefeated match-up this weekend in men’s Division 1 soccer when Temple travels to Lawrenceville on Saturday. Rider is a perfect 3-0 on the season after a 1-0 win over NJIT on Tuesday. The Broncs have been counting on a balanced roster to lead the way up to this point, but stars Christian Flath and Ryan Baird need a good shift against the talented Temple side. Senior midfielder Jorge Gomez Sanchez leads the attack for Temple with four goals and two assists in 308 minutes of play. Goalkeeper Alex Cagle has only conceded one goal in four games, as the redshirt junior has barely been called upon thanks to the dominance of the Temple midfield and attack. 

No. 9 Akron (2-2) vs. Oregon State (3-0-1), Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. (ET), gozips.com

Akron is trying to bounce back from the humiliating loss to UCLA on Monday. The Zips return home to games against Oregon State and UC Santa Barbara, which is a pretty challenging schedule. The Beavers are 3-0-1 on the campaign and have faced a challenging schedule up to this point. Timmy Mueller might have a field day against the Akron defenders unless the group learns from the mistakes against the Bruins. Nolan Wirth has been exceptional in goal for Oregon State through the first four games. 

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