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Men’s Weekend Preview: Top 5 games

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: September 20, 2018

Friday, September 21

Columbia (3-1-1) at No. 24 Fordham (3-1-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Two teams from the city clash in the Bronx, as Columbia makes the trip to Fordham. It’s been a very solid start to the season for the Ivy League outfit, which is unbeaten in four games after losing the season opener on the road against Kentucky. It starts at the back with a stout defense, as the Lions haven’t conceded more than one goal in their five games. Senior Kynan Rocks is stepping up in front of goal, providing three goals in five games to this point. Columbia is an experienced team that features several seniors and can very well go on the road and get a result. The hosts enter this matchup coming off its first loss of the season, falling 1-0 on Tuesday night against Manhattan. Janos Loebe’s been integral as a senior, scoring a goal and setting up five more.

Prediction: Columbia 1-1 Fordham

Charlotte (3-1-1) at No. 3 Kentucky (5-0-1), 7:30 p.m. (WatchESPN)

A big-time matchup for both teams in Conference USA play, as Charlotte wraps up a two-game road swing to Kentucky. The 49ers lost 2-1 against Old Dominion in their conference opener, while the Wildcats pulled off a 1-0 win over UAB. Kentucky’s rolling into this one, still unbeaten as JJ Williams continues to enjoy a strong season – he won a penalty and scored the winning goal in Tuesday night’s matchup against Lipscomb. His ability to enjoy success against Charlotte center back Callum Montgomery will be critical in determining which side emerges as the winner.

Prediction: Charlotte 2-2 Kentucky

Saturday, September 22

No. 21 St. Mary's (CA) (8-0-0) at UC Davis (6-0-2), 4 p.m. (Watch)

Eight straight wins to start the season has St. Mary’s in rare company: one of three programs to win every game so far this season. The attack is clicking, with 26 goals in that stretch, led by junior forwards Jake Rudel, Anders Engebretsen and Jakub Svehlik. As of this week’s games, that mark was good for tops in the country. That sets up a critical matchup between a vaunted offense and stout defense, as UC Davis conceded just five times in eight games. Defender Roy Boateng continues to excel for the Aggies, while sophomore Jake Haupt has played every minute as a sophomore. Junior Adam Mickelson’s been the focal point in the final third, leading the team in both goals and assists. For both programs, Saturday’s clash clarifies where they are at this point in the season.

Prediction: St. Mary’s (CA) 1-0 UC Davis

No. 20 Vermont (6-2) at Massachusetts-Lowell (5-1-2), 5 p.m. (Watch)

The America East conference schedule is here, and with it comes a critical battle between Vermont and Umass-Lowell. Both teams have lived up to expectations through the start of the season – despite Vermont dropping its second game on Sunday. A solid attack, which has 17 goals in eight games through the likes of Geo Alves, Justin Freitas and Jon arnar Barddal. The Riverhawks are the stingier side; holding Stanford to a single goal and drawing California during a West Coast swing last weekend, they’ll be primed for this one. Stanley Alves and Roko Prsa have provided the bulk of the goals, as the pair account for seven of the team’s nine on the season. Don’t expect to see a lot of offense in this one.

Prediction: Vermont 0-0 Massachusetts-Lowell

No. 15 UCLA (4-2) at UC Santa Barbara (4-3), 10:30 p.m. (Watch)

Two programs that look revitalized through the early stages of the season – albeit with a couple of choppy results already under their belt – square off on Saturday as the Bruins wrap up conference play. Mohamed Kamara’s been as advertised, leading the team with four goals, and freshman Matthew Hundley’s scored three and setup three more, by far the biggest impact among the first-year additions at UCLA. Consistency is going to be the key, along with keeping players fit. UCSB’s only major hiccup through its first stretch of the season came on a two-game road swing to the Pacific Northwest, where it dropped games against Portland and Seattle. This came before losing on Wednesday night against St. Mary’s, 1-0 on a goal in overtime. Rodney Michael’s picking up the pace with his ability to finish in the final third, while Faouzi Taieb’s addition at the back contributes at both ends of the pitch. This clash has the potential to harken back to past UCSB-UCLA matches.

Prediction: UCLA 1-1 UC Santa Barbara

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