ATLANTA--Two of the Colonial Athletic Association's stingiest defenses take the field at the Panthersville Soccer Complex this Wednesday night as the Georgia State men's soccer team entertains William & Mary in an important league clash.
The Panthers (7-2-1, 1-1) and Tribe have utilized their CAA and nationally-prominent defenses to rise to the top of the standings. The CAA leaders, William & Mary (6-3-0, 3-0) are the owners of a four-match shutout streak that dates back to a 1-0 win over conference rival UNC Wilmington on Sept. 17. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back 1-0 wins including an upset victory at N.C. State and a thrilling overtime victory over Hofstra for their first CAA win this season.
Both teams enter Wednesday's highly-anticipated matchup boasting regional rankings. William & Mary owns the No. 3 ranking in the latest NSCAA/Continental Tire South Atlantic Region Poll released on Monday while GSU comes in at No. 10 on the list. The Tribe are also the No. 24 team in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Men's Tournament 48 rankings and are receiving votes for the NCAA Top 25.
"William & Mary is a good team that was nationally ranked earlier in the year," GSU head coach Brett Surrency said, "They return a lot of the guys who led them to the NCAA Tournament last year and a couple of wins in the tournament as well."
GSU, tied with six other teams for third in the CAA with 1-1 conference records, and William & Mary each own five shutouts this season. The Panthers and Tribe are also each in the top three in CAA in goals allowed, goals against average and are tied for first with James Madison in shutouts. Wednesday night's match has all the makings of a back-and-forth affair that will hold scoring chances to a premium for both sides.
"We're a good team and we have to take care of things at home," Surrency said, "We'll build off the two wins last week and hopefully have a good showing on Wednesday."
Redshirt freshman CJ Cochran, this week's CAA Rookie of the Week, leads GSU as it looks to defend a perfect 4-0 home record this Wednesday. Cochran, who made four stops against NC State and one against Hofstra, is eighth in the nation in save percentage (.879) and 20th in goals against average (0.64). As a team GSU is seventh in the country in save percentage (.880) and 12th in goals against average (0.59).
Defense has not only been a staple of both the Panthers and Tribe but also of the CAA in general. Of the 13 conference contests played eight have been decided by only one goal. 11 of the 13 games, including all six last Saturday, have been shutouts this year.
William & Mary forward Nicolas Abrigo was named to the Preseason All-CAA Men's Soccer Team prior to the year, and hasn't disappointed. Abrigo is tied for fourth in the conference with five goals and sixth in the conference with 11 points. He's also second in the league with three game-winning goals.
Georgia State will turn to sophomore forward Evan Scott and classmate Stephen McGill on the attack. McGill had a point in each of the wins last week and Scott leads the Panthers with nine points and is tied for ninth in the CAA in points.
This is a key week for GSU and the rest of the league. All CAA teams play two conference matches this week with the race for the top six spots still wide open. Visit www.GeorgiaStateSports.com on Wednesday for a link to live stats from Panthersville. Also, fans can receive goal updates and more information on Twitter by following the GSU men's soccer team at @GSUMensSoccer.