Thursday, October 25, 2012
The Portland Pilots and Santa Clara Broncos take center stage for this week’s NSCAA Game of the Week on Fox Soccer, with two members of the Portland Timbers U-23s set to shine on Friday night at 10 p.m. ET as they lead their respective teams into a key West Coast Conference clash that highlights the weekend’s men’s soccer action on national television.
This past summer, Santa Clara’s Erik Hurtado and Portland’s Steven Evans were teammates for the Timbers U-23s as they finished second in the Northwest Division and advanced to the Western Conference Championships. Hurtado scored six goals in 10 games for the Timbers, adding an assist, while Evans struck four times from midfield.
Now both players are leading their respective colleges, with Hurtado trying to push the Broncos toward a regular-season conference title and a place in the NCAA Tournament. The senior has scored 11 goals and recorded 26 points in 13 games this season as Santa Clara has gone 5-1-0 in WCC play. With support from FC Tucson’s Carlos Montes, who is tied for second on the team with nine points, the Broncos need a victory to keep pace with San Diego at the top of the standings. Santa Clara currently sits three points behind the Toreros, but with a game in hand.
Evans and the Pilots will be doing their best to act as a spoiler, with the junior having had a standout season that has included a pair of WCC Player of the Week awards. Currently sitting with 24 points in 13 games, including 11 goals, Evans has received support from Timbers teammate Ricardo Carillo, who has 10 points this season, but the Pilots have only managed a 3-3-0 record in conference play, putting a dent in their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Earlier on Friday night, ESPN3 has action from the ACC and Big East as the conferences wrap up their regular seasons, with No. 4 North Carolina hosting North Carolina State at 7 p.m. ET and No. 18 St. John’s visiting Syracuse at 7:30 p.m. ET.
North Carolina fell in overtime last Friday night to No. 1 Maryland, but was able to bounce back in midweek with a 3-0 victory against Campbell that saw Orange County Blue Star forward Andy Craven and Carolina Dynamo midfielder Martin Murphy each find the net. Craven (13 points) and Murphy (11 points) sit 1-2 in scoring for the Tar Heels this season, while Dynamo goalkeeper Scott Goodwin recorded his 11th shutout of the season in the win against the Camels.
St. John’s, meanwhile, needs a victory in its final game of the regular season to have a chance at avoiding a first-round game in the Big East Tournament. Currently fourth in the Red Division standings with a record of 3-3-1, the Red Storm would need a win and a loss by Cincinnati to jump into the quarterfinals.
Led by Jersey Express goalkeeper Rafael Diaz, who has posted a 0.71 goals-against average this fall, St. John’s will need to overcome a surprising Syracuse side that has locked up the No. 2 spot in the Red Division with the help of the Ocala Stampede’s Anthony Asante. The junior forward has scored 14 points this season on five goals and four assists to lead an Orange side that was picked to finish bottom in its division in the preseason by the Big East’s coaches into a potential NCAA Tournament berth.
The Pac-12 Network kicks off all the action on Friday with No. 6 UCLA’s visit to Oregon State at 4 p.m. ET. The Bruins remain in second place in the Pac-12 standings, with Orange County Blue Star forward Reed Williams having hit form of late to move into a tie for the team lead with 13 points. The Blue Star’s Joe Sofia has also been a key contributor defensively for the Bruins, while Sounders FC U23 standout Fernando Monge has scored four goals, trailing only Williams.
The key game of UCLA’s trip to the Pacific Northwest comes on Monday at 10 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network, however, as the Bruins visit conference-leader Washington in their final road game of the season. The No. 24 Huskies remain undefeated with a 5-0-2 record entering the weekend, with former Portland Timbers U-23s player Dylan Tucker-Ganges leading the way with seven goals. Timbers U-23s goalkeeper Spencer Richey has also played a key role, with a 0.81 goals-against average and seven shutouts.
The Big Ten Network has action on Sunday afternoon as Northwestern visits Wisconsin at 1 p.m. ET looking to bounce back from a midweek defeat and remain in contention for the Big Ten regular-season title. The Wildcats fell 1-0 to Northern Illinois in overtime on Wednesday night, but only sit a point behind Penn State with a game in hand, and led by the Chicago Fire PDL’s Chris Ritter will be hoping to defeat a Wisconsin side that has won just once in conference play.
Ritter has scored five goals and added five assists this season for Northwestern, and has been well supported offensively by Fire PDL teammate Joey Calistri, who leads the team with six goals. The Fire’s Nikko Boxall has also had a strong season defensively, starting all 15 games he has appeared in as the Wildcats have recorded a 0.83 goals-against average.