MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 9 West Virginia University men’s soccer team travels this weekend to take on two Top-25 teams, as it faces No. 1 North Carolina and No. 19 Wake Forest. WVU will face North Carolina on Friday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m., and will travel to Wake Forest on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m.
The Mountaineers are currently 2-0 after defeating Hartford and Stetson last weekend in the WVU Nike Classic. Seniors Peabo Doue
and Travis Pittman
scored in a 2-1 defeat of Hartford, while freshman Jamie Merriam
scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Stetson.
The backline of Doue, freshmen Francio Henry
and Nick Raskasky
, and senior Eric Schoenle
allowed a combined seven shots on-goal and just three corner kicks in the two victories. Schoenle was named the defensive MVP of the tournament.
Senior goalkeeper Pat Eavenson
made six saves in the two matches, earning the fourth shutout of his career against Stetson.
This season marks the first time the Mountaineers have started 2-0 since 2005, when WVU began the season 3-0 with wins over Campbell, Temple and Wright State.
After winning the National Championship last season, North Carolina is back in the hunt for the title in 2012 and currently holds a No. 1 ranking after beating Gardner-Webb, 4-0, to start the season last Saturday.
“They are good every year and are expected to be a national contender every year,” coach Marlon LeBlanc says. “Carlos (Somoaono) does a great job with their team. He was there for a long time behind Elmar (Bolowich) and knows the Carolina way. Much like all of their other sports, they are always in contention for a national title and certainly our guys are going to have a big challenge ahead of them on Friday night.”
Andy Craven, Jordan Gafa, Chipper Root and David Walden each scored one goal, while Danny Garcia assisted on two.
The Tar Heels also return midfielder Mikey Lopez, who was named a Preseason All-American by Soccer America after finishing his freshman campaign with three goals and four assists. Lopez was the 2011 ACC Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-America selection.
UNC’s backline is anchored by Gafa, Jonathan Campbell, Jordan McCrary and Boyd Okwuonu. The group allowed just one shot by Gardner-Webb in the season opener.
Senior Scott Goodwin was named a Soccer America Preseason All-American and earned the 25th shutout of his career on Saturday.
UNC is coached by Carlos Somoaono, who is entering his second year at the helm after becoming the second first-year head coach in NCAA history to lead his team to a national championship, as the Tar Heels posted a 21-2-3 mark last season.
Wake Forest defeated Wofford, 1-0, last Saturday evening in its season opener. Freshman Jalen Robinson scored the game-winning goal in the 64th minute, as the Demon Deacons outshot Wofford 19-8.
“Jay (Vidovich) does a fantastic job with that program,” LeBlanc says. “These ACC teams are loaded and supported by the community, and it will be a big crowd on Sunday night. We are looking forward to the challenge of Wake Forest.”
Goalkeeper Michael Lisch earned the shutout against Wofford without having to make a save.
Wake Forest returns 18 players who saw action last season, including all 11 starters. In addition, the Demon Deacons’ 11-member incoming class was ranked No. 1 by CollegeSoccerNews.com.
The last time the two teams met was in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 2007, with Wake Forest winning the match, 3-1, and going on to win the NCAA title.
Jay Vidovich is in his 19th season as the head coach of Wake Forest and is a two-time NSCAA National Coach of the Year and five-time ACC Coach of the Year. He has a career record of 242-104-38.
Links to live stats, video and audio for both matches are available on WVUsports.com.