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Top 5 Matches: ACC Sunday slate

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: October 15, 2020

Action in the ACC men’s and women’s 2020 seasons highlight five of the top matches to watch over the weekend of Division I soccer.

Friday, Oct. 16

South Carolina (3-1-0) at Arkansas (4-0-0), 8 p.m. (SEC Network)

Arguably the best team outside of the ACC during the current season, the Razorbacks can underline that with a big result against a tough visiting South Carolina side. Defensively sound, the Gamecocks will have their hands full against Arkansas’ stable of forwards – including Anna Podojil. Leaning on senior Anna Patten will be very important, especially with the team relying on a pair of inexperience goalkeepers in Taylor Fox and Heather Hinz. Freshman Catherine Barry’s been off to a solid start, but she’ll need to have a huge game for the visitors for them to get anything from this one.

Sunday, Oct. 18

Clemson (4-2-0) at Notre Dame (3-1-0), 1 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)

After getting shellacked by Florida State in their opening game of the season, the Irish have spun off three straight wins against lower-tier ACC opposition. Both teams will look to make a statement and stamp their influence on this game as the chase for the regular season title heats up. Kalyssa Van Zanten’s paced the offense during this stretch, as she’s scored six goals at this early stage of the season. The Tigers are a tough team, despite losing games against Duke and North Carolina. Makenna Morris and Maliah Morris are tough to slow down on the flank when they get going, while Caroline Conti’s scored two game-winning goals. Set pieces could be the decider in this, or perhaps Clemson goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff, who has been a key performer at this stage of the fall campaign.

Florida State (4-0-0) at Virginia (4-1-1), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Cavaliers and Seminoles get onto ESPN 2 for a compelling clash between two of the top programs. UVA should be closer to full strength in this one, and they’ll need to show the ability to break down a talented Florida State side. This matchup represents the toughest game so far for the Seminoles through their schedule, and they’ll need to find a way to deal with the attacking prowess of Rebecca Jarrett down the flank. Jaelin Howell can certainly do her part to help FSU control the game, while Jenna Nighswonger and Yujie Zhao have been effective coming off the bench in previous games. Leilanni Nesbeth looks set to take a major step forward as a contributor to the FSU attack. Both teams will get a stronger sense of where they are at this point in the season after this game.

North Carolina (2-0-0) at Wake Forest (3-1-0), 6 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)

The ACC men’s race is shaping up to be an exciting one for this fall. Wake Forest fell by a 2-1 score in a Tuesday matchup at Clemson. Both will head into this one thinking that they can come away with the full points. Expect to see a defensive approach from North Carolina, which is likely to sit back and let Wake have a bit more of the ball, to wait for a mistake. There’s little doubt that the Demon Deacons have the edge in terms of attacking talent, whether it’s Machop Chol or Calvin Harris leading the attack, while UNC’s defense has more experience. Something’s got to give, and Wake is going to be the side looking to score sooner rather than later.

Pittsburgh (3-0-0) at Virginia (1-0-1), 7:30 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)

Sunday is a Klockner Stadium doubleheader, even though fans won’t be able to attend (family is allowed). The Cavaliers very much remain a work in progress, taking both of their first two games to overtime, relying on the experience of goalkeeper Colin Shutler. He’s going to need a big game if Pitt is clicking, particularly with Veljko Petkovic and Bertin Jacquesson pacing the attack along with Alexander Dexter. Mammoth center back Andreas Ueland will be key alongside Shutler, especially given the threat he offers from attacking set pieces.

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