MLS on Campus: Hot prospect's return boosts UNC attack

Rob Lovejoy - On Campus

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UNC Sports Information

Welcome back to MLS On Campus, our weekly look at the goings-on in the college game. Every Monday, we'll give you the week's best highlight, the standout players, which games to watch in the week ahead and, of course, our national Top 10 list.

After all, the SuperDraft is only a few months away...

Big Men on Campus

North Carolina junior forward Rob Lovejoy  After a breakout 2011 season, Lovejoy was sidelined through the first half of 2012 with offseason surgery. He made his debut at College of Charleston last weekend in style, coming off the bench to grab all three UNC goals in just 43 minutes of action.

He likely won’t get a look at Generation adidas this year given his injury problems and a relatively deep stable of forwards. But a late run – especially at tournament time – could change things considerably.  

Creighton senior midfielder Jose Gomez – In front of a national TV audience against Princeton, Gomez was moved back from forward to his natural attacking midfielder position and produced a virtuoso three-assist performance in the Blue Jays’ 3-2 overtime win. He then had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Central Arkansas as Creighton sits just outside the top 10, waiting to pick off some big programs in the NCAA Tournament.

Cornell junior forward Daniel Haber – Given the lack of national television attention, not much is known about Cornell, the last remaining team in the NCAA with a perfect record (12-0-0). Haber is a bit of a mystery as well, but he keeps piling up huge numbers. The 5-foot-10 Canadian grabbed two more goals and an assist in two games last week to bring his NCAA-leading point total to 39 (16 goals, 7 assists). Should Haber keep scoring in the NCAA tournament, his rapid rise could continue into the SuperDraft. 

Rank Trending Last College Comment

1

2

Maryland
(11-0-1)

Junior forward Patrick Mullins’ sixth goal of the year led the Terps to a 1-0 win over Virginia. A former member of the Chicago Fire’s Louisiana satellite academy, major questions abound as to whether Mullins is eligible for a Homegrown contract or if Generation adidas could be calling soon. 

2

5

UNC
(11-1-1)

The final piece to the puzzle is back. The Tar Heels defense has allowed just three goals in 13 games this season, and now the defending champs will have the forward they’ve been missing all year thanks to the return of Lovejoy. Carolina's 4-3-3 has been able to generate chances almost at will, but there's been no finishing touch. Forty-three minutes in Charleston changed that. 

3

3

UConn
(11-1-1)

A relatively routine win over Iona, sealed by TFC Academy product Allando Matheson, was the only work the Huskies had last week. UConn shouldn’t have much trouble with the rest of their regular-season slate, but the absence of senior Jossimar Sanchez will be felt once we hit tournament time. 

4

4

Akron
(9-1-2)

Caleb Porter’s side won at a very good Penn State team 2-0 last Wednesday before another shutout road win at Northern Illinois. Akron has not allowed a goal in seven games and Sounders fans that haven’t seen SSFC Academy graduate right back DeAndre Yedlin marauding up and down the right wing need to catch a Zips match. As further salt in the wound to onlooking Timbers fans, the entire Akron backline is made up of players from other MLS academies. 

5

2

Marquette
(11-1-0)

The Golden Eagles finally lost their perfect record, dropping a 2-1 result on the road at Georgetown. It was bound to happen some time, though, and they still control their own destiny in the blue division of the Big East with four games left in the conference season.

6

9

Georgetown
(12-2-1)

There’s no better way to respond to a couple losses than ending Marquette’s undefeated run. At a neutral site, the Golden Eagles are probably better, but the Hoyas will be a handful for any side come tournament time. Junior attacking midfielder Steve Neumann had another impressive weekend to raise his possible Generation adidas status a tick further.

7

8

Indiana
(9-2-2)

The Hoosiers earned a respectable 2-2 draw at Louisville in their only action of the week while star forward Eriq Zavaleta grabbed another goal to pull his tally to 12 on the year. IU hosts Butler and Michigan this week in matches that well tell us a lot more about its tournament prospects.  

8

(NR)

Northwestern
(9-2-1)

The Wildcats have plugged along quietly for much of the season against some lesser competition, but a win over Notre Dame last week showed they are for real. They lack the star power of some of the NCAA powerhouses, but senior left-sided winger Kyle Schickel could find his way to the MLS Combine as a player in the mold of Connor Lade.

9

5

Notre Dame
(11-3-0)

The Fighting Irish have the talent to beat anyone in the country; they’ve proven that. The problem is, like most teams, they struggle against good teams on the road. With two of their last three games at home, where they’re a perfect 6-0-0, they should be in great shape as the Big East tournament approaches.

10

6

UCLA
(9-2-2)

The Bruins suffered their first Pac-12 loss in two years last week against Washington, though they hang onto their ranking by the slimmest of margins with a win at San Diego State. Senior Ryan Hollingshead added three assists while senior right-sided winger Evan Raynr is working his way into draft talk as well. 

 

Highlight of the Week

Check out the highlights from UCLA’s wild 4-3 win at San Diego State, including all three assists from Hollingshead – a surefire first-round SuperDraft pick.

UConn is certainly a national championship contender, and its sports information department has put together a great video detailing the first half of the Huskies' season. 

What to Watch For:

No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 2 North Carolina (Friday, 6 pm ET; ESPNU)

In front of a national audience on ESPNU, the top two teams in the ACC will face off in a can’t-miss game that will likely decide the conference's regular-season title. There could be up to a dozen future MLS players on the field as these sides go at it in College Park, Md. 

No. 4 Akron vs. West Virginia (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET)

Quite simply, this is the biggest game on the MAC schedule. The Mountaineers have flown under the radar for much of the year, but with a win could take the inside track for home field advantage in the conference tournament in their first year since defecting from the Big East.