Soccer to Face Wake Forest in ACC/SEC Challenge

by Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
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Soccer to Face Wake Forest in ACC/SEC Challenge

BATON ROUGE – The 23rd-ranked LSU soccer team will continue its four-game road swing against nationally-ranked opponents this weekend as it heads to Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., to take on 16th-ranked Wake Forest in Friday’s opening match of the ACC/SEC Challenge at 6:30 p.m. CDT.

Wake Forest (2-1-0) enters the match ranked as high as No. 16 nationally in the Soccer Times Top 25 poll released Monday afternoon. The Demon Deacons are also ranked No. 17 in the country in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top 25 and No. 25 in the Soccer America Top 25 this week.

LSU (1-1-0) also enters Friday’s fixture with a national ranking on its side as the club is nationally-ranked for the 11th-straight week dating back to last season at No. 23 in the latest Soccer Times Top 25.

This marks only the second meeting on the soccer pitch between two of the premier programs in the ACC and SEC as Wake Forest owns a 1-0 record in the series with its win way back on Oct. 3, 1998.

“This will be another big challenge for our young team as we go back onto the road into the ACC to go up against two of the best teams in the country,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee. “Wake Forest is a Top 10 and Top 20 caliber team year in and year out. We must be ready from the opening kick to match the focus and intensity we know they’ll bring and compete for the full 90 minutes.

“These are exactly the kinds of games we want to play in the non-conference to get our team ready to play when we start SEC play at the end of the month. Competing against a program like Wake Forest will give us the experience we need to compete against the best teams in our own conference.”

The ACC is widely considered the deepest conference in women’s college soccer year in and year out and the Tigers are no stranger to competing against the nation’s best in the non-conference.

LSU will make a return trip to ACC country this weekend after competing against two national powers in Durham, N.C., during the non-conference season in 2009. The Tigers dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to ACC power and 19-time NCAA champion North Carolina, before earning a 2-2 draw with NCAA Tournament veteran and fellow ACC power Duke on Sept. 18 and Sept. 20 of last season.

Like the Tigers, the Demon Deacons feature a youthful squad with 10 freshmen and two transfers that are sure to present a difficult challenge when the sides square off on Friday night.

Freshman striker Rachel Nuzzolese has led the Wake Forest attack in the early part of the 2010 season by scoring a goal in each of the team’s three games to open the campaign, including the game-winner in their 2-1 win over East Carolina on Sunday. Nuzzolese is the only player in Wake Forest history to score a goal in each of her first three games as a Demon Deacon.

After battling the 16th-ranked Demon Deacons on Friday night, the Tigers will battle 23rd-ranked Virginia Tech on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. CDT on the final day of this year’s ACC/SEC Challenge. While LSU ranks No. 23 in this week’s Soccer Times Top 25, the Hokies are No. 23 in the latest NSCAA/adidas Top 25.