P.J.'s Picks - Week 9 Men's Soccer

North Carolina Men's College Soccer Ben Speas

P.J.’s Men’s Soccer Picks – Week 9

My pick for the game of the week is an obvious one, the battle between #1 Maryland and #2 North Carolina.  Not only are these two teams on top of the chart, they are both in the ACC. People have already claimed this to be the game of the season and I agree.

Maryland will stand undefeated with a 12-0-1 record when they welcome North Carolina (11-1-1) to College Park on Friday. Maryland’s offense is statistically a better offense with 12 players contributing goals on the season, including junior forward Patrick Mullins. Mullins leads Maryland with eight goals and seven assists thus far, racking up 23 points in 13 games. Midfielders John Stertzer and Schillo Tshuma, who also spend some time in the forward position, have both added five goals each, followed by Jake Pace with four and Christiano Francois with three. Four players have added a pair of goals and three have a single goal to add up to the total of 37 for the Terps. The defensive line has done their job for the Terps just as well as the offense. Maryland’s defense has only allowed nine goals with keepers Jordan Tatum and Keith Cardona recording a total of 25 saves. The only five defenders on Maryland’s roster, Dakota Edwards, Marquez Fernandez, Taylor Kemp, Kyle Roach, and London Woodberry, have kept their opponent’s shots on goal down to 34.

North Carolina’s defense will have their work cut out for them on Friday but they are up for the challenge just as they have been against all other offenses this season. Holding their opponents to just 29 shots on goal and with their roster of nine defenders, they are able to sub more than Maryland, giving their defense a slight advantage with fresh players. North Carolina’s keeper, Scott Goodwin, has gotten the job done in the net for the Tar Heels.  In 13 games, he has only allowed three goals and tallied 25 saves. Statistically the Tar Heel defense tops the Terps. North Carolina’s offense doesn’t stack up as well as only a handful of players have put points on the board. Forward Andy Craven and midfielder Martin Murphy both lead the Tar Heels with just four goals, followed by Rob Lovejoy with three. Lovejoy logged all three of his goals last week in one match in the win over College of Charleston. Jordan Gafa and Mikey Lopez have added two goals and five others have scored one each. 

True, North Carolina’s offensive numbers are a little lower than Maryland’s, but they still get the job done and the same goes for Maryland’s defense versus the Tar Heels defense. Looking at both sides, I think these two teams are two of the best matched teams of the season. This match will be, for the ACC, as important as Marquette beating UConn in the Big East. If North Carolina beats Maryland then they will steal that number one spot and will be one of the teams to take out one of the three remaining undefeated teams, leaving only Cornell and Xavier.