When you look at the roster of the Wake Forest men's soccer team you don't just see a talented squad, you see a pro scouts dream, a who's-who of the best players in college soccer.
Best defender in college soccer? Check. Best striker? Check. Best midfield? Check.
The embarrassment of riches is one thing, but the soccer the Deamon Deacons play with that assortment of talent makes them overwhelming favorites to repeat as NCAA champions.
That is, unless North Carolina can pull the upset. The ACC rivals square off today in the NCAA national semifinal (5:30pm, ESPN2) in a rematch of a regular season tilt won by Wake Forest, 4-2. The Tar Heels will be looking to avenge that defeat in a match few are gving them a chance of winning.
"It left a sour taste in our mouths," UNC striker Brian Shriver told the Raleigh News & Observer. "They definitely have a very offensive-minded team. They are more than capable of coming back from being down a goal. But they're vulnerable. They're not unbeatable."
The Tar Heels aren't exactly a team of nobodies. Led by second-team All-American midfielder Michael Callahan and Shriver, an All-ACC striker who led the Tar Heels in scoring this season, UNC also boasts former U.S. Under-17 national team standouts Sheanon Williams and Billy Schuler.
That is a pretty solid foursome but as good a core group as that is for the Tar Heels, it will be hard-pressed to match the Wake Forest quintet of Marcus Tracey, Ike Opara, Sam Cronin, Cody Arnaux and Corben Bone, all of whom are considerd top pro prospects. In fact, Tracey and Opara could potentially be the top two picks in the 2009 MLS Draft if they both sign with MLS.
That group has helped lead the Deamon Deacons to a pair of blowout wins in the last two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. They outscored Dartmouth and South Florida by a combined 12-0 margin, scoring ability North Carolina knows all about, having surrendered four second-half goals in a 4-2 loss to Wake Forest during the regular season.
Here are some other stories previewing today's UNC-Wake Forest match-up:
What do you see happening in the first of today's Final Four matches? Can North Carolina contain Wake Forest's loaded attack? Will the Deamon Deacons record another blowout? Will we see an upset for the ages?
Share your thoughts below.