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Men’s Preview: Separating the contenders

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: September 24, 2015

The men’s Division I season is headed to the thick of the schedule when the consistency of good teams start to separate them from the pack. This week’s schedule offers a few games that could prove which teams are going to be real contenders in 2015 and which teams are pretenders. 

Five Games To Watch:

UC Santa Barbara (5-2-1) vs. No. 12 Akron (4-1-1), Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. (PT)

The Gauchos are rolling after the return of Justin Vom Steeg to the squad following his appearances with the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team. Von Steeg is 4-1 in his debut season and has been a key figure in most of those wins. On Friday, he will be challenged against an Akron side that has scored 10 goals in its last four games. The Zips are reeling a bit though with only one point from their last two games. This is going to be a big challenge for Akron as well. This is the first home game for UCSB since school started so expect a large crowd on hand at Harder Stadium. 

No. 8 Wake Forest (7-1) vs. No. 9 Clemson (6-1-1), Sept. 26, 7 p.m. (ET)

When the RPI comes out next week, expect these two teams to be near the top of the list. The ACC teams have taken on challenging schedules through the first part of the season and are well positioned to reap the rewards when the end of the season seeding comes out in November. Wake Forest is coming off a 2-1 win on the road over No. 12 Akron. Clemson has won three in a row, but plays five of its last nine games of the season on the road. 

No. 21 Columbia (4-0) vs. New Hampshire (6-0-1), Sept. 26, 7 p.m. (ET)

Saturday’s matchup between Columbia and New Hampshire is a bit of a surprise. Columbia came out of the gates strong thanks to an impressive defense that has only allowed one goal. The Lions have been fortunate with a number of players stepping up to score important goals. Will one of them emerge as the consistent attacking threat that the team will likely need in the coming weeks? New Hampshire brings an undefeated record into the game.The Wildcats have not conceded a goal in their last four games. Saturday’s contest should be a good measuring stick for both sides. 

No. 5 Notre Dame (5-2-1) vs. No. 3 Virginia (5-0-2), Sept. 25, 7 p.m. (ET), ESPN3

Notre Dame keeps finding its way into this section because the schedule has been difficult for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame responded well from the loss against North Carolina with a 4-0 win over Michigan State on Tuesday. Virginia is still undefeated on the season and only getting better with each week. Freshman Derrick Etienne stepped up this week in the win over VCU. Can he do it again on Friday?

Georgetown (3-2-2) vs. Providence (4-2-1), Sept. 26, 1 p.m. (ET), Big East Digital Network

The Hoyas open up conference play on Saturday with a home game against Providence. The two preseason favorites have not had the start to the season that they thought they would. Hoyas struggled to score out of the gate and did not find the back of the net until the third game of the campaign. Recent overtime losses to Brown and Columbia derailed Providence’s strong start. The matchup on Saturday between Joshua Yaro and Mac Steeves should be fun for the neutral viewer. 

Three Players to Watch:

Trevor Davock, Boston College - The freshman midfielder has emerged as the leading scorer for the Eagles. Davock has four goals in seven games for the ACC side. The Massachusetts-native netted the game-winner on Tuesday and will likely be a key player for BC on Friday against Virginia Tech in conference action. 

Danny Deakin, South Carolina - The junior midfielder is in his first season playing at the Division I level, but he hardly seems phased by it. Deakin is leading South Carolina in goals with six in seven games. He scored twice on Tuesday to lead South Carolina to a 3-1 upset win over Elon. He will need to be just as good on Friday with a big game against New Mexico

Jose Carrera-Garcia, California - After a stellar summer with PSA Elite, Carrera-Garcia has carried over that form to California where he has six assists in six games this season. The talented midfielder is the reigning PAc-12 Player of the Week. On Friday, the Golden Bears take on local rival Santa Clara

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