Favorite: Notre Dame
Player to watch: North Carolina’s Boyd Okwuonu, a senior defender, anchored a Tar Heels defense that allowed .61 goals per game last season.
Game to watch: Notre Dame at Duke (Oct. 17) – last season’s defending champion and preseason No. 1 makes its only regular-season appearance in the Carolinas (ACC tournament is in Cary, though).
Favorite: Virginia Commonwealth
Player to watch: Saint Louis’ Robert Kristo (10 goals, five assists in 2013) has led the Billikens in scoring for three consecutive seasons.
Game to watch: Saint Louis at Davidson (Oct. 10) – Wildcats’ Atlantic 10 home opener is against one of college soccer’s traditional powers.
Favorite: Coastal Carolina
Player to watch: Coastal Carolina’s Ricky Garbanzo (13 goals) led the Big South in scoring last season and is on the Hermann Award watch list.
Game to watch: Winthrop at Coastal Carolina (Oct. 29) – Garbanzo, who played at Rock Hill Northwestern, faces his hometown team.
Player to watch: Limestone midfielder Sam Orritt (eight goals, nine assists) is coming off an All-American season.
Game to watch: Pfeiffer at Belmont Abbey (Oct. 31) – these long-time Conference Carolinas rivals conclude the regular season on the Crusaders’ senior day.
Favorite: New Mexico
Player to watch: Behind center back Mahamoudou Kaba, South Carolina had six shutouts. Kaba also tied for the team lead with five goals.
Game to watch: New Mexico at Charlotte (Sept. 16) – quite a way to open conference play with this game between teams that were one-two in C-USA’s preseason poll.
Player to watch: Queens goalkeeper Montrell Morgan had a .78 goals-against average last season, which ranked 22nd nationally.
Game to watch: Carson-Newman at Queens (Oct. 25) – Royals (ranked 22nd nationally in coaches poll) face No. 2 Carson-Newman.
Player to watch: Wofford striker Connor Davis is on the Hermann Award watch list. He finished in the top 25 last season in points (27) and goals (11).
Game to watch: Furman at Wofford (Oct. 1) – two Upstate rivals might be playing for league’s regular-season title.
Most of the Sun Belt’s full-time members don’t sponsor the sport, so men’s soccer schools Appalachian State, Georgia State and Georgia Southern are joined by affiliate members Hartwick, Howard and New Jersey Institute of Technology in a six-team Sun Belt league ... Elon (15-5-3 in 2013) should contend in its first season in the Colonial Athletic Association. David Scott
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