Week five of the college soccer season involves many programs entering the opening stages of conference play. Conference USA is one of those leagues with rival teams squaring off this weekend, including one matchup that could go a long way to determining the regular season crown.
Check out the five best games of the men’s Division I week five schedule below.
The ACC schedule is pretty ridiculous and the scheduler did no favors to the Irish or to the Tar Heels. After a hard fought 1-1 draw against Virginia, Notre Dame hosts North Carolina in an important conference meeting for both teams. The Tar Heels are coming off a loss to Duke, which exposed some of the weaknesses of this squad but it mainly highlighted the quality of Duke midfielder Sean Davis. North Carolina is too talented to be defined by that loss to the Blue Devils. The Irish will need to be sharp in the back to slow down the North Carolina attack. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is still in search of a bit of magic in the midfield as Harrison Shipp’s shadow still casts over Alumni Stadium.
Charlotte’s conference opener comes against the stout Lobos defense. New Mexico’s heavy conference travel schedule only gets slightly easier for here. The key matchup here is the 49ers attack against the Lobos defense. Charlotte is averaging 2.83 goals per game, which is third in Division I. New Mexico has already logged four shutouts this season. With Charlotte’s good start to the campaign and New Mexico’s normal dominance, this could be the key showdown of the season in Conference USA.
On paper, this should be a very close game. Syracuse’s team defense is statistically first in the Division I as the Orange is holding onto a 0.12 goals against average heading into the weekend. Virginia’s offense has not been much this season as the Cavaliers are yet to score more than one goal in any game. That’s not the makeup of a shootout, but this should still be an entertaining affair. Virginia speedster Darius Madison is slowing regaining fitness and should feature prominently in this game after starting in the shocking midweek loss to Davidson. Emil Ekblom leads the Syracuse attack with five goals to his name. Alex Bono has been so good in goal for Syracuse that the Orange have rarely needed more than one goal in a game.
James Madison enters a tough stretch of three games starting this weekend with Furman. The Paladins are building on a five-game unbeaten run, which includes three shutouts in a row. JMU is the last opponent before SoCon play begins for Furman. Lewis Hawke and Bobby Edet lead the way in the attack for Furman with four and three goals scored, respectively. If JMU wants to capture a quality win heading into Oct., the attack will need to figure out a way to break down the pesky Furman defense.
UPDATE: The Marquette-Providence game has been postponed due to travel issues. A make-up date will be announced later.
Marquette kicks off its Big East regular season with a game against Providence on Saturday. The Rhode Island program is 12th in Division I in goals scored heading into the weekend. Marquette has not given up a goal in its last five games. While that is partially credit to a very good defense for the Milwaukee program, it is mainly attributed to Marquette’s ability to dominate possession of the ball for long stretches of the game. Brady Wahl and the rest of the Marquette midfield has been superb this season and will look to continue that run of form in conference play. Providence will need to break up the rhythm of the Marquette attack to have a chance in this difficult road clash.