WVU starts tough road stretch against No. 1 UNC, No. 19 Wake
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 23:08
The No. 9 West Virginia University men’s soccer team begins a crucial road trip this weekend, when it takes on No. 1 North Carolina and No. 19 Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons were picked to finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, behind Maryland and UNC, by the league’s head coaches.
Wake Forest entered this season with 18 players and 11 starters returning. The Demon Deacons also brought in 11 newcomers in a 2012 recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 in the country by College Soccer News.
Last season Wake Forest finished 8-8-5 overall. Senior forward Andy Lubahn, who had four goals and six assists on the season, led the Demon Deacons to a solid season.
Another contributor was junior midfielder Luca Gimenez, who added six goals and an assist.
As for North Carolina, the Mountaineers will have an opportunity to shock the nation in what would be an impressive upset.
"We have to look forward to (this) weekend," said defender Eric Schoenle. "We have a shot at the No. 1 team in the country."
The Tar Heels are coming off a national championship and a 21-2-3 season. While UNC did lose five players from the championship team, 13 lettermen come back to give the Tar Heels the chance to defend their title.
Billy Schuler led North Carolina last season with his 16 goals and five assists. This season, junior forward Rob Lovejoy will be one of the leaders on the squad.
Lovejoy tallied seven goals and five assists for North Carolina. His 19 points were fourth-best on the team.
In the first game of the season, the Tar Heels routinely manhandled Gardner-Webb, 4-0.
UNC poured on three goals in the second half en route to the shutout victory. The Tar Heels had a dominating statistic in the shots category. North Carolina outshot Gardner-Webb 17-1.
Senior goalkeeper Scott Goodwin earned his 25th career shutout in the season opener.
Wake Forest, on the other hand, only managed to win a routine 1-0 shutout against Wofford. Freshman Jalen Robinson had his first career goal as a Demon Deacon.
West Virginia will play in a hostile environment in North Carolina. A battle of top-10 teams will draw fans to the stadium in Chapel Hill.
"UNC has great fans over there," said senior Uwem Etuk. "They’re a great team, but we’re going in there with no fear. Honestly, it doesn’t matter who we play – we just go
out and try to get the result."
WVU had some missed opportunities in the first two games against Hartford and Stetson, but the game have been under the Mountaineers’ control and pace thus far.
With the recent balance of the freshmen and seniors contributing to the 2-0-0 start, West Virginia has the opportunity to achieve success in the grueling road trip against UNC, Wake Forest and Penn State.
Action gets underway tonight at 7 p.m. in Chapel Hill before shipping off to Winston-Salem Sunday night.