Top 5 Matches: Another Friday feast
The Halloween weekend features the best action on Friday night in men’s and women’s Division I soccer. Don’t miss these five matches.
Friday, October 30
On the men’s side of things, a high-level clash between the Tigers and Demon Deacons should provide plenty of entertainment. A young and scrappy Duke side pushed Wake Forest last Friday, as they were aided by great goals from Omar Hernandez and Calvin Harris. In the previous encounter between these two sides, Clemson edged it by a 2-1 score, and need big games from Kirmani Smith and Grayson Barber once again. Wake will look to welcome Isaiah Parente back to the lineup to try and wrest midfield control from Phillip Mayaka.
A crucial Big 12 matchup sees Kansas hit the road looking to throw West Virginia off its chance of TCU. Midfielder Ceri Holland is going to be a crucial figure, as her presence can thwart the opposition attack. Defenders Moira Kelley and Kate Dreyer have also been important to keeping Kansas in close games. That’s important, as they’ve scored just four goals, as all four wins have been 1-0 results. That means if West Virginia gets the early goal, that will set the Mountaineers on course for the result. By contrast, WVU has scored 14 goals, as seven different players have found the back of the net. Getting the first goal is always important, but it could ring even truer in this Friday night encounter in Morgantown.
Two postponed games from earlier in the season means Auburn has a difficult final stretch of the season. Friday’s game at Arkansas is the first of four games in an 11-day stretch, looking to cram in the rescheduled fixtures before the SEC tournament. Adapting a more defensive approach for this match could be the game plan for Auburn, seeking to limit the danger of Arkansas’ Anna Podojil. Freshman Ava Tankersley has been nearly as effective, while seniors like Kayla McKeon and Haley VanFossen provide ample experience. Defender Sarah Houchin is one of Auburn’s senior leaders, and if she’s able to help the defense keep a zero, sophomore Sydney Richards is as likely of a candidate as any to possibly win the game.
Sunday, November 1
While this game isn’t available to watch, it’s a critical one in the race for the Sun Belt Conference. A fast start has Coastal on top, having only played games in the league so far. Georgia State, which has put together some good results in the very short season, sports just a 1-2 record against conference foes. Aris Briggs needs to have a big game, but so far, Coastal looks like a formidable force, at least when it comes to league matches. What’s more impressive with their results is how many new players are on the roster, as they added 24 players this summer for the class of 2020. Mael Couteau, a defender from France, has quickly emerged as a key player and will be critical once again.
The ACC women’s fall regular season wraps up on Sunday with Clemson’s trip to Tallahassee. One of the top teams to compete on a smaller scale this fall, Florida State has quality and depth that they will trot out against the Tigers. Bermudan attacker LeiLanni Nesbeth’s taken a big step forward as a sophomore, a dynamic weapon from the bench or as a starter. Jenna Nighswonger and Yujie Zhao have been coming off the bench, while freshman Jody Brown is electric as a super sub. Goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff has been excellent for the Tigers so far, and may need to be again for Clemson to have a good shot at the road win.
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