Top 5 Matches: Friday night focus

Top 5 Matches: Friday night focus
by Travis Clark
November 4, 2020

The women’s ACC tournament kicks off early next week, as the men’s sides wrap up regular season play this weekend. Regular season honors are set to be decided in the SEC and Big 12. Don’t miss these five matches on Friday, November 6.

Virginia Tech (2-1-2) at Virginia (2-2-1), 4 p.m. (Watch ESPN/RSN)

The Commonwealth foes battle it out in Charlottesville seeking to improve their standing for the ACC tournament. Both have enjoyed up and down seasons – albeit playing just five games heading into this one – with some flashes of quality at times and struggles in other games. Forward Jacob Labovitz has scored three times in the past two games as the Hokies won two games the previous weekend. Goalkeeper Mathijs Swaneveld has also been back in goal the past three games, another boost. Kristofer Strickler and Daniel Pereira can also cause UVA problems. They’ll head north liking their chances of an upset against a Virginia team that’s had inconsistencies of their own. First-year goalkeeper Alex Rando looks poised to continue starting in goal, where he’s grown into the role and improved as the season has progressed. Goals have been a bit hard to come by for the Cavaliers, although seven different players have at least one tally apiece. The experience of Nathaniel Crofts and Andreas Ueland will be of particular importance.

South Carolina (6-1-0) at Tennessee (3-3-1), 6 p.m. (SEC Network+)

A win on home turf against the high-flying Gamecocks can net the Volunteers not just a big victory, but first place in the SEC East. It’s a tale of two teams when looking at the form table in the short season. South Carolina have won six games in a row, while Tennessee hasn’t been able to string together two wins at any point of the seven games they’ve played so far. This provides a chance to finish off the regular season with two wins on the trot, and pick up the big win. Breaking down the typically stout South Carolina defense will be the key to that, as Anna Patten’s been a rock at the back and Heather Hinz has stepped up in goal. Jaida Thomas is a key player for Tennessee in the attack, as she has three goals, and all three provided the winning margin for the Volunteers. Also keep an eye on the goalkeeping situation for the home side, as they added Jenna Rolfe last week, who started and won against Florida on Friday.

Arkansas (6-1-0) at Mississippi State (2-2-3), 7 p.m. (SEC Network+)

The SEC West is out of reach for Mississippi State, but this SEC clash is worth watching to see what kind of a game they can give Arkansas. Bottling up Anna Podojil and the rest of the Arkansas offense will be crucial to that. After a bright start, Mississippi State is winless in its past three games, and needs a big game from freshman goalkeeper Maddy Anderson to have a shot.

West Virginia (7-1-0) at TCU (7-0-1), 8 p.m. (ESPN+)

It’s nice to see a title decider, even in this short and funky season. The Big 12 regular season crown goes to TCU in the event of a win and a draw, while West Virginia needs the full three points in Fort Worth to hop over the Horned Frogs. It features the best attack (WVU) against the best defense in the conference, which bodes well for the hosts. Tijana Duricek is one of four players to compete every minute on the field, and she’ll look to slow down the West Virginia attack that’s fired by Enzi Broussard and Stefany Ferrer-VanGinkel. This match could be the pick of the five matches listed.

Duke (2-4) at North Carolina (2-1-2), 8 p.m. (ACC Network)

The two rivals square off with seeding in the ACC tournament at stake – aside from bragging rights. Duke, despite the less than optimal record, boasts a young and exciting team that’s learning through the shortened fall season. Lewis McGarvey, Antino Lopez, Peter Stroud, Amir Daley and Nicholas Pariano have all played at least 300 minutes in their first year. Improving at the back is important, having conceded 11 times in six games. North Carolina isn’t that adventurous in the attack, so a low-scoring game could be a possibility here. Santiago Herrera’s two goals leads the team, but the Tar Heels have just six goals from five games so far. The approach from both sides will be intriguing as they conclude the regular season.

Related Topics: Atlantic Coast, Big 12, SEC
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