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Aug 25, 2012

ACC Week 1 Sunday Preview

Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia Tech will all take the field on Sunday in home matches.

Richmond @ Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va. 2:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech lost its opening match 3-1 to SIU- Edwardsville on Friday night as the Hokies surrendered three first half goals and were overall completely outplayed by the Cougars. SIU-Edwardsville scored three goals in a span of four minutes, putting the game out of reach early in the match. SIU-Edwardsville finished 2011 137th in the RPI, which does not bode well for the Hokies who are coming off a four-win season a year ago. Last year, Virginia Tech allowed the third fewest goals (25) in the ACC and had the fifth best goals against average (1.25), so the defensive issues can be expected to improve.

Offensively, the team will need to see some new weapons emerge – if young players like freshman striker Daniel Lauretano, who scored his first goal as a Hokie on Friday, can play big roles they should win a few more games than they did in 2011.

Virginia Tech finishes the Hilton Garden Inn Hokie Invitational on Sunday when they face Richmond. The Spiders made headlines on Friday when they took down No. 19 James Madison on the first day of the Invitational in a tough, 1-0 match.  Richmond will be another quality opponent for the Hokies to try and get it right. Look for better defense from the Hokies on Sunday afternoon.

Mercer @ NC State Raleigh, N.C. 4:00 p.m.

N.C. State took down Liberty 2-0 on Friday night and looked good doing it. Nazmi Albadawi, the ACC’s sixth leading goal scorer (9) from a year ago, picked up right where he left off, scoring the first goal of the season for the Wolfpack in the 44th minute. Junior transfer Alex Martinez, the best all-around player for High Point in 2011 (24 points), would assist a Monbo Bokar goal in the 71st minute to seal the game.

With Firday’s victory, N.C. State has already accomplished something which they failed to do all of last season, which is win a game on the road. Head coach Kelley Findly told Soccer Wire that winning on the road is a top priority this year, and it will have to be if the Wolfpack want to be considered a contender in the conference. The team will try to build on their impressive performance Sunday when they face Mercer in their home opener. Mercer, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, lost 2-1 to No. 20 UAB in its season opener after finishing with a 9-8-3 record in 2011. Look for Findley and Co. to use Sunday as just another tune-up for when the schedule really begins to pick up.

Louisville @ Maryland College Park, Md. 7:00 p.m.

No. 9-ranked Maryland is the last ACC team to begin the regular season, but they do so with a real test. Louisville finished 2011 11th in the RPI and advanced all the way to the Elite Eight in the College Cup. The Cardinals are ranked seventh in the country entering this season and just might tear through the always competitive BIG EAST as they did a year ago. This is the game to watch in college soccer on opening weekend. Sasho Cirovski’s bunch is getting a lot of respect in the polls and deservedly so. Sunday will be a test for the Terps,  who tied both preseason matches they played, 2-2 against Penn State, and 3-3 against No. 2 Creighton. f

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