The best of the best in men’s soccer will be on display on Friday night when No. 1 Maryland hosts No. 2 North Carolina in a nationally televised match-up on ESPNU.
The Terrapins (12-0-1) are off to their best start since the program’s 1968 national championship team began the year 14-0-1. Maryland also boasts the nation’s top scoring offense at 2.92 goals per game.
On the flip side, the defending NCAA champion Tar Heels (11-1-1) field Division I’s stingiest defense, surrendering just three goals on the year, while posting nine shutouts and a 0.24 goals against average — currently the second-lowest in a single season in NCAA history.
|MARYLAND VS. NORTH CAROLINA|
|Goals per game||2.85||1.62|
“What we’ve both done in our other games might give some people on the outside an idea of how the season has gone so far, but what we do on Friday night will be more important in terms of the outcome of that game,” UNC head coach Carlos Somoano said.
The game will undoubtedly be a battle of wills on the field, while the end result will play a part in the race for the Atlantic Coast Conference title and NCAA Tournament positioning.
“We have tremendous respect for them and have had many memorable games,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “Obviously, we are two of the most successful programs over the past decade and we are both having good seasons. Friday night, Ludwig Field will be rocking and I believe it will be a great advertisement for college soccer. Both teams are strong all over the field with plenty of options in attack and very determined defensively as well. We are looking forward to the challenge of playing the reigning champs.”
Maryland sits on top of the ACC standings with a perfect 5-0 mark, while UNC follows closely with a 4-0-1 conference record. The Tar Heels are unbeaten in their last 15 ACC matches — the longest streak in school history.
Junior Patrick Mullins paces the Terps and the league with 1.67 points per game with seven goals and six assists on the season, but four other players have netted at least three goals on the year.
UNC junior Rob Lovejoy returned to lineup last Saturday after sitting out the first part of the season due to injury, and made an immediate impact with a hat trick against the College of Charleston. It was the first hat trick by a Tar Heel in three years.
“It’s just another piece of the puzzle,” Somoano said. “We have some very good players upfront, but Rob [Lovejoy] is just a little bit different in what he brings. He has a penetrating presence and we definitely lacked that when he was out. He changes the dynamic of the team.”
While Maryland leads the all-time series 43-23-4, last year’s meeting between the two squads in Chapel Hill ended in a 1-1 tie after double overtime.
The game will not only pit longtime league rivals against one another, but generate good publicity for collegiate men’s soccer.
“I think it is very important we put a good product on the field Friday so people see the excitement first-hand whether it be on ESPNU or live at the stadium,” Somoano said.
Game time is 6 p.m. ET.
• The No. 2 Stanford women’s volleyball squad will be looking to remain the lone undefeated team in Pac-12 play and extend its 14-match winning streak when the Cardinal visits No. 5 Washington Friday. The Cardinal boasts the toughest defense in the league, limiting foes to a .163 hitting percentage, while the Huskies are the only Pac-12 team hitting over .300 (.309) this season. While Stanford leads the series by a marked advantage of 47-11, the two squads split their two regular season meetings last year.
• No. 13 Wisconsin-Oshkosh visits defending national champion No. 5 Wisconsin-Whitewater on Saturday for a battle of Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference unbeatens in Division III football. Both teams enter the contest with 3-0 marks in league action.
Wisconsin-Oshkosh has opened the season 6-0 for the first time in 89 years. The Titans’ current eight-game win streak is their longest since 1936, and they have scored 34-plus points in six of those contests. UW-Whitewater (5-1, 3-0 WIAC) is the three-time defending Division III champion and seven-time defending WIAC champion. The Warhawks have won four consecutive games since dropping a 7-6 contest to Buffalo State on Sept. 15.
• Salve Regina landed in the AFCA Division III Top 25 for the first time in school history after starting 7-0 on the season following a 37-33 victory against Curry last Saturday. The No. 24 Seahawks currently own the longest active winning streak in Division III football with 13 consecutive victories, and the second-longest across all divisions, trailing Harvard (14). Salve Regina heads to MIT for a Friday match-up with the Engineers as they seek their first NEFC Boyd Division title since 2000.
• Eastern Washington will put its new No. 1 ranking to the test, hosting Sacramento State for a FCS Big Sky Conference contest on Saturday. The Eagles soared to No. 1 after a defeat of No. 2 Montana State, coupled with losses by three other teams ahead of EWU in the poll. It is the third time in three years the Eagles have claimed the No. 1 spot in the poll.
Though unranked, the Hornets are no lightweight opponent. They are 5-2 for the first time since 1992, and off to a 3-1 start in the Big Sky. Sacramento State also knocked off Colorado earlier this season — the second consecutive year the Hornets have beaten a FBS opponent. The Hornets have also defeated the Eagles in four of their last five visits to Cheney.
• Two former top five teams in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll will both be looking to bounce back from losses last week as No. 16 Missouri Western travels to No. 7 Pittsburg State on Saturday. MWSU suffered a heart-breaking 31-30 loss to Missouri Southern last Saturday, while the defending champion Gorillas fell to then-No. 7 Northwest Missouri State in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead. Both the Griffons and Gorillas began the season with spotless records and will be looking to get back on the winning track as they battle for position in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association standings.
• The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team will travel to No. 6 Maryland on Saturday for a rematch of the last three Division I championship games. The two programs have combined to win the previous seven national titles with Maryland claiming the five titles, including the last two.
• If you’re thinking those guys need a haircut, you’re right. But the group of St. Cloud State men’s hockey players pictured will not be cutting off their mane until the right time. The group comprised of sophomore Tim Daly, junior Cory Thorson, junior Nick Jensen, junior Nic Dowd, redshirt freshman David Morley and senior Ben Hanowski will be donating their hair to “Locks for Love” when it reaches the proper length.
The players had all been growing their hair since the end of the 2011-12 season, and when they all returned to school after the summer without cutting their hair, they decided to set a goal of growing their hair to the appropriate length for donation purposes. Of note, Dowd has had to go up a helmet size heading into the 2012-13 season because of his healthy head of longer, thicker hair.
• Three weeks ago, Wyoming soccer goalkeeper Carmen McDermott had just left a meeting with her professor and stopped in the restroom before her next appointment with the coaching staff. The sophomore nursing major’s quick bathroom break was a bit more than she bargained for when she found a woman in the process of giving birth. The laboring woman had already called her husband, and McDermott contacted the police for medical backup. McDermott looked for more help in the building’s hallway, but she was the only one around, so she remained calm and assisted the woman with her breathing and pushing.
“I knew it was a scary position to be in and that I couldn’t just back out,” McDermott said. “I hadn’t delivered a baby before, but was just trying to be as helpful as possible. The baby came out and I’m just happy that nothing had gone wrong. The paramedics arrived shortly after, so we were fortunate everything went okay.”
McDermott has stayed in touch with the family and said that the mother and child are doing well.
• All of that hanging out around the UMBC men’s soccer offices is paying off for Pete Caringi III, a junior forward for the Retrievers. Caringi, the son of UMBC head coach Pete Caringi, Jr., garnered America East Conference Player of the Week and College Soccer News National Team of the Week honors after contributing four goals and two assists in two games last week. Highlighting the week was Caringi’s three goals and two assists in UMBC’s 5-1 victory against Boston U. on Saturday — the Retrievers’ first league win of the year.
Caringi III, an America East First Team pick in 2011, added another goal in a win against Navy on Tuesday to increase his team-leading total to nine goals. Caringi, Jr., is in his 22nd season at the helm of the UMBC program. The Retrievers are 7-4-4 heading into a match against Stony Brook on Friday – the defending champions of the America East.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy