Men's Soccer Preview: William & Mary
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - With the men's soccer season hitting the final stretch of three games, UNCW finds itself opening a three-game road stretch to close out the season beginning with Colonial Athletic Association leader William & Mary on Wednesday.
While the Seahawks are in second-place entering the stretch, they are actually in a three-way tie with VCU and Georgia State, both teams the Seahawks fought to draws in their recent 4-game stretch. The CAA is one of the deepest conferences in the nation with just six points separating 11 teams following William & Mary.
Following the three-way tie for second is a three-way tie for fifth-place with George Mason, Old Dominion and Hofstra all even with 11 points.
UNCW could gain some separation on Wednesday, but will have its work cut out for it against a side that is ranked fifth in the latest release of the NCAA RPI rankings. The Tribe has won its last six and owns an eight-game unbeaten streak. Its last loss was to Old Dominion in its conference opener back on Sept. 21, in Norfolk. In its last outing, W&M opened a 2-0 lead against Delaware before holding on for a 2-1 win over the Blue Hens.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, have fashioned draws in each of their last four games. Last Saturday, UNCW spotted Towson an early 2-0 halftime lead before rallying in the season half and drawing even on freshman Andy McDaniel first goal of the season.
Defensively, UNCW continues to rank in the NCAA's top-20 in goals against average, but the offense has been slowed due to injuries and inconsistency. Senior Nassim Berhouni halted a span of 499:51 minutes without a goal. While goals were at a premium for UNCW during that streak, so were goals for opponents. UNCW allowed just a single goal against ODU and recorded three overtime shutouts before Towson, the seventh-ranked offense in the nation, struck twice in the first half on Saturday.
Seniorand junior were rock solid in goal for UNCW. Both have combined for a 0.62 goals against average, ranking 15th in the NCAA. Their eight shutouts this season also ranks among the nation's leaders.
Following Wednesday's game in Williamsburg, the Seahawks will square off with Delaware on Saturday in Newark, Del. The Blue Hens have an impressive win over Old Dominion to their credit this season as well as forging ties on the road at George Mason and Hofstra.
Links to live stats for both the William & Mary and Delaware games can be found at UNCWsports.com