by Neil Morris
Add in that the Durham Bulls are completing the Governors’ Cup Championship Series on the road against the Pawtucket Red Sox, and what ever is a Triangle sports fan to do?
While there’s not much football to choose from, there’s plenty of top-flight futball kicking around all weekend beginning Friday evening. First, the Duke Men’s Soccer team (2-1-1) hosts Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium in Durham. However, perhaps the marquee match of the weekend is down the road in Chapel Hill, where No. 2 North Carolina (2-0-1) hosts No. 18 Maryland (1-2-1). The Tar Heels and Terrapins have combined to win four of the last five ACC Men’s Soccer Tournaments. Both schools are again expected to vye for the conference crown this season, Maryland’s last as a member of the ACC.
North Carolina is paced thus far by junior transfer Tyler Engel, who has three goals in his debut three games as a Tar Heel. Meanwhile, Maryland is led by senior forward and Hermann Trophy candidate Patrick Mullins. Friday’s match is the first time since 2008 both teams will not be ranked in the top-5 when going head-to-head, a span of four seasons and six games. Kickoff at Fetzer Field is 7 p.m.
N.C. State gets in on the action Saturday evening with a battle of undefeateds. The Wolfpack men’s team (3-0-0) hosts No. 9 Clemson (4-0-0) in a preview of next Thursday’s gridiron clash between the same schools. N.C. State is led in scoring by Alex Martinez and Clement Simonin, who have one goal and one assist each this season. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ Thomas McNamara has four goals and two assists. Match time is 7 p.m. at Dail Soccer Field.
Meanwhile over at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, there’s a pivotal pro soccer tilt Saturday between the Carolina RailHawks and Tampa Bay Rowdies. Carolina and Tampa Bay are tied atop the North American Soccer League Fall Season table after a Paul Hamilton stoppage-time own goal gave the Rowdies a home victory over the RailHawks last Saturday. Carolina was attempting to win their first road game this year, but instead it set a more ignominious mark: its first back-to-back losses of 2013. However, the RailHawks hasn’t lost a game in Cary this year, and the team will need all three points this weekend to keep pace in the NASL standings. The RailHawks continues to be led by Brian Shriver and his league-leading 12 goals. The rough and ready Rowdies will feature Georgi Hristov (9 goals), Luke Mulholland (6 goals, 5 assists) and former RailHawk Etienne Barbara, Carolina’s career goals leader, who was acquired by Tampa Bay from Minnesota United FC last month. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. back in Chapel Hill, the top-ranked UNC Women’s Soccer team (7-0-0) renews their rivalry with No. 8 Notre Dame (5-1-0). The Fighting Irish, in its first year as a member of the ACC, opened conference play Thursday with a 3-1 win over N.C. State in Raleigh. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels’ 2-1 victory last night over No. 22 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg was the 750th win in Anson Dorrance’s illustrious UNC coaching career. Following North Carolina’s 26 NCAA Women’s College Cup appearances (and 21 championships), the school with the second-most Cup appearances is Notre Dame with 12, leading to three championships, the last being in 2010.