Thursday, September 20, 2012
PDL standouts will be front-and-center on Fox Soccer this Friday night in a pair of top NCAA Division I contests as No. 3 UC Santa Barbara, No. 8 North Carolina, No. 12 UCLA and Virginia take the field. The Tar Heels host the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. ET before the Gauchos host the Bruins at 9 p.m. ET.
The Gauchos have been led this fall by former Baton Rouge Capitals standout Achille Campion, who leads the team with 11 points. The 6-foot-2 junior has scored in all but one of the Gauchos’ contests this season, entering Friday’s game on a four-game scoring streak.
UCSB has also received key contributions from the Long Island Rough Riders’ Dominick Sarle, who leads the team with four assists. Sarle was a key member of the Rough Riders’ 2011 Eastern Conference Champions, being named to the All-Eastern Conference Team. Defender Peter McGlynn, who helped the Ventura County Fusion win the Southwest Division this summer, is a key defensively for a Gauchos side that has conceded less than a goal per game.
The Gauchos will face a test from a UCLA team that is currently on a four-game winning streak, with the Pali Blues’ Evan Raynr currently tied for the team lead with three assists. Orange County Blue Star forward Reed Williams has also played well this fall, sitting in a tie for the team-lead with Raynr and Ryan Hollingshead with five points.
Fernando Monge will also be a key figure as has continued his strong play this summer with the Sounders FC U23 in the center of midfield, while Bruins junior defender Joe Sofia will try to help contain the Gauchos’ explosive attack, with the 6-foot-2 Orange County Blue Star player having support from the Ventura County Fusion’s Matt Wiet.
Earlier in the evening, North Carolina welcomes ACC rival Virginia to Chapel Hill, N.C. aiming to maintain its undefeated start to conference play. UNC opened conference play with a 2-0 victory against Virginia Tech before a 0-0 draw against Wake Forest last Friday night. Led by former Carolina Dynamo midfielder Martin Murphy, who has scored four goals this season, the Tar Heels have also seen former Chicago Fire PDL midfielder Andy Craven post two goals and two assists.
The Dynamo, though, have been the offseason home for a number of the Tar Heels’ key figures this fall, with Jordan Gafa, Scott Goodwin and Boyd Okwuonu all having played this past summer for the 2012 PDL Championship Game Finalist. Goalkeeper Goodwin and Okwuono, in particular, have had a strong start leading the Tar Heels’ defense, with the side only conceding two goals in six games.
They will face a Virginia attack led by former Reading United forward Will Bates, who has had a standout start to the season with five goals in six games. The Baltimore Bohemians’ Chris Somerville has added another pair of goals for the Cavaliers, who won their opening game in conference play against Duke earlier this month.
Elsewhere, the Big Ten Network opens its men’s soccer coverage on Sunday afternoon as No. 15 Indiana visits Ohio State at 1 p.m. ET. The Hoosiers have been led this season by former Super-20 League standout Eriq Zavaleta, who helped the Columbus Crew Juniors win the 2011 North American Championship. Zavaleta has six goals in seven games this fall for Indiana, and has been backed by former Northern Virginia Royals standout Caleb Konstanski, who is tied for second on the team with four points.
Ohio State, meanwhile, will try to turn things in the right direction in their Big Ten opener. Currently 3-4-1, the Buckeyes have received positive contributions from Ft. Lauderdale Schulz Academy’s Alec Lowell, but have overall struggled defensively, conceding an average of two goals per game.
Meanwhile out west, the Pac-12 Network continues its men’s soccer coverage as Stanford hosts Loyola Marymount on Friday evening at 7 p.m. ET. The Cardinal have been led by former Washington Crossfire forward Adam Jahn, who has 10 points in six games this fall.
Then on Sunday, it heads to the Pacific Northwest as Washington hosts Seattle University at 3 p.m. ET. The Huskies have made a strong start to the season, sitting just outside the NSCAA Top 25, with Dylan Tucker Gagnes leading the way. The former Portland Timbers U-23s defender has 10 points in seven games this fall, and has been aided by the Sounders FC U23’s Bradley McIntosh, the Washington Crossfire’s Ben Fisk and the North Sound SeaWolves’ Abdul Aman.