Crucial conference matches are once again on the docket in the Division I men’s soccer season.
Don’t miss these five matches over the weekend.
Friday, October 4
The Cavaliers have been imperious so far this season, rattling off nine straight wins heading into this matchup with Louisville. The combination of returning players, such as Daryl Dike, Joe Bell, Henry Kessler and Colin Shutler, have been boosted by newcomers such as Andreas Ueland and Axel Gunnarsson. UVA’s dominated both sides of the ball, conceding just one goal through nine games while scoring 16. Adding intrigue to this is Louisville’s starting goalkeeper Jake Gelnovatch will play against his father George, who coaches Virginia. Cherif Dieye’s ability to trouble defenders with his positioning and reading of the game will be crucial for Louisville’s chances of coming away with the full points.
Saturday, October 5
Another big ACC matchup awaits the Tigers, which came up short on the road against Wake and now welcomes the Hokies to Clemson. A high-scoring game could be very likely, as forward Kimarni Smith leads the nation in goals scored with 12. On the other side, Kristofer Strickler continues to score at a high rate, while Daniel Pereira has impressed early on in his career. If Virginia Tech can come up with a game plan to slow down Clemson’s attack enough, it could certainly give them a shot.
Marquee non-conference matchups on the weekend are a bit rare at this time of the season, with fall firmly here. Fullerton’s matchup against the Terps here marks their second of a two-game swing that started with an overtime loss against James Madison in Harrisburg, Va. on Wednesday night. Christian Pinzon’s ability to both score goals and set them up have been a big part of Fullerton’s success through this point of the season. A trip to College Park, even against a Maryland team that has been up and down so far, is a big test. The Terps are pretty solid at the back and are going to be a bear to break down. If Fullerton finds a way to win, it’s a big statement against the defending champions.
Sunday, October 6
A trip to State College provides a huge chance for a young Hoosiers team to take the inside track on the Big Ten regular season title. Indiana beat Northwestern on Tuesday night, with five true freshmen in the starting lineup. Of the first-year starters, Joshua Penn, Aidan Morris and Victor Bezerra have been among the more notable contributors. They’ll need to be integral again for a second-straight Big Ten road win. On the flip side, The Nittany Lions could shore up their spot in the standings. While they haven’t reliaed on the same quantity of freshmen, they have had big contributions from first-year players like Liam Butts, Andrew Privett and Alex Stevenson. Senior Aaron Molloy anchors the midfield, and Joshua Levine has held off Kristopher Shakes in goal.
No. 9 UCF (7-1-1, 1-0) at No. 2 SMU (9-0, 1-0), 8 p.m. (Watch)
Two of the very best senior strikers go up against each other on Sunday when UCF lands in North Texas. Cal Jennings continues to give defenses trouble, scoring nine goals from nine games. The Florida side is far from a one-man band, however, as Louis Perez can orchestrate from midfield and Yoni Sorokin joins him in the creativity department. A big game from goalkeeper Yannik Oettl might be on the cards, especially if Garett McLaughlin remains on song (he has eight goals and five assists this season). Jon-Talen Maples anchors the defense and leads the team in minutes played next to Hendrik Bredelil. Eddie Munjoma and Knut Ahlander have chipped in 10 goals and 12 assists between the two of them. This is arguably the best matchup of the weekend.