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Big East Clash Highlights PDL Players
Cochrane, Louisville face St. John's on Fox Soccer

PDL Feature

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The top two teams in the Big East’s Red Division face off in a crucial nationally televised game on Saturday night as current and former PDL players take the spotlight for another big weekend of action in NCAA Men’s Division I Soccer. No. 10 St. John’s visits Louisville for the NSCAA Game of the Week on Fox Soccer with the Cardinals aiming to maintain top spot in the division.

Louisville (7-4-1) had a difficult start to the season, falling not only to top-ranked Maryland but also in-state rival Kentucky and St. Louis. The Cardinals have turned things around since starting Big East play, going 3-1-0 against their conference foes to sit on top of the Red Division. Leading the charge has been Reading United standout and 2012 All-Eastern Conference selection Greg Cochrane, pictured right, who has five goals and two assists this fall.

Cochrane has been backed by IMG Bradenton Academics midfielder Will Vitalis, who has 10 points this fall, as does Dylan Mares, who played for the Chicago Fire PDL this summer. The River City Rovers trio of Andrew Farrell, Ryan Smith and Buck Tufty have also made important contributions for the Cardinals as they make a run at the division title.

St. John’s, meanwhile, has been consistent all season, with goalkeeper Rafael Diaz playing a major role. The Player of the Game in the Red Storm’s last appearance on Fox Soccer, when the Jersey Express standout recorded four saves to earn a 0-0 draw against Akron, Diaz has conceded only eight goals in 13 games this season.

The weekend’s televised action begins on Friday evening on the Pac-12 Network as California visits Washington at 6 p.m. ET. The Huskies face a big weekend, with Stanford also visiting Seattle on Sunday in a game that can also be seen on the Pac-12 Network at 3 p.m. ET, and will rely on the continued strong play of goalkeeper Spencer Richey. A standout for the Portland Timbers U-23s this past summer, Richey has posted a 0.95 goals-against average so far this fall, with five shutouts in 12 games.

While Richey has been strong at the back, his teammate with the Timbers U-23s Dylan Tucker-Ganges has led the Huskies’ attack with seven goals in 11 starts. The North South SeaWolves duo of Michael Harris (three assists) and Abdul Aman (two goals) has also chipped in offensively for Washington, which could move within touching distance of conference leader UCLA with a pair of victories.

ESPN3 features No. 1 Maryland on Friday night as the Terrapins look to continue their undefeated season as they visit ACC rival Duke at 7 p.m. ET. After taking victory against Virginia on Fox Soccer last Friday night through New Orleans Jesters standout Patrick Mullins, Maryland still has the chance to complete a perfect run through the conference.

Mullins, who had seven goals in 15 games for the Jesters this past summer, leads the Terrapins with seven goals and six assists. He has received support from Real Maryland Monarchs midfielder Jake Pace, who has 10 points, and Real Colorado Foxes defender Taylor Kemp, who has five assists.

The Blue Devils have struggled at times this season, but are currently 2-2-1 in ACC play putting them fourth in the conference standings. Coming off a 1-0 victory against N.C. State last Friday, with PDL Defender of the Year Sebastian Ibeagha of the Carolina Dynamo notching the only goal, Duke will hope to maintain their positive momentum against the Terrapins.

The matchup of Ibeagha and Mullins, in particular, promises to be a fascinating one, with the U.S. U20 international having also proven consistently threatening from set pieces. While a center back, Ibeagha leads the Blue Devils with five goals and 11 points this season. Timbers U-23s forward Nick Palodichuk has also scored twice for Duke this fall.

The weekend’s action concludes on Sunday afternoon as the Big Ten Network has a conference doubleheader, with Ohio State visiting Northwestern at 1 p.m. ET, and Penn State hosting Michigan State at 3 p.m. ET.

The Buckeyes are still looking for their first Big Ten victory this season, but have had the play of Orange County Blue Star forward Austin McAnena as a bright spot. The senior has scored four goals and added three assists to lead Ohio State with 11 points in 12 starts.

Northwestern, on the other hand, has had a strong season so far, going 8-2-2 overall and winning both of its Big Ten contests. Led by the Chicago Fire PDL duo of Chris Ritter, who has four goals and four assists, and Joey Calistri, who has five goals, the Wildcats are on the verge of breaking into the NSCAA Top 25.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Reading United’s Julian Cardona will try to keep his strong season for Penn State rolling as his side hosts the Spartans. With five goals in nine starts this fall, Cardona has received support from Ogden Outlaws forward Daniel Burnham, who has two goals and two assists for the Nittany Lions. Burnham had a standout summer in the Southwest Division, appearing in every game for the Outlaws while scoring seven goals and adding two assists.

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