Big conference games are once again on the docket this weekend, in the ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and Big East.
Don’t miss these five matches (all kick off times listed EST).
Friday, October 18
A Top 10 ACC clash sees the stakes high in particular for the Cardinals, who can keep pace in the ACC race with the full points. It’s a battle between two of the top attacking midfielders in the league, with Emina Ekic in the midst of a brilliant season for Louisville, and Ella Stevens shouldering a portion of the load for an injury-depleted Blue Devils. If Stevens can continue to get some help from super sophomore Marykate McGuire and Mackenzie Pluck, Duke is set to give the Cardinals plenty to handle.
Injuries are lingering over this mouth-watering SEC clash, as the Razorbacks travel to College Station. Arkansas boasts one of the best attacks and defense in the nation, and can throw players like Anna Podojil or Stefani Doyle into the final third. If the Aggies are missing Ally Watt again (she sat out Sunday’s win on the road at Auburn) it’s a huge task for them to lock things down defensively. The implications are massive for the SEC race, with South Carolina a point ahead of the Razorbacks and Florida, with the Aggies four points off the pace. Both need to win it, making the stakes all the more important and the chances for a frenetic match to only increase.
Saturday, October 19
It’s not quite an Ivy League title-decider, but if Brown gets the best of the Crimson in Cambridge, it will put the Bears in the driver’s seat. An excellent defense has lifted Brown to this scintillating start, as they’ve posted the second-best goals against average in the country so far. The play of junior defender Sydney Cummings has helped anchor that. Brown’s strength is sure to be test significantly by a Harvard side that’s navigated a lighter schedule to this point, but have potent weapons. First year attackers Gaby DelPico and Angela Caloia lead the team in goals and assists respectively, with the former bagging six tallies and the latter 10 helpers. If that duo can solve Brown’s defense, it will give the home side a boost.
Can the Bruins find a way to slow down the Cardinal juggernaut? At the start of the season, the possibilities of this matchup deciding the Pac-12 race hung over the fixture. But a slow start for UCLA out of the gate, including two losses in their first two conference games, mean the Bruins need to win this one and get help from somewhere else. The good news is that Jessie Fleming is back after missing some time through Canadian national team duty, and UCLA have spun off three straight wins. Their chances of winning are obvious: slow down Catarina Macario, make sure that Sophia Smith or Madison Haley don’t do any damage and then crack the Cardinal back line. Stanford hasn’t conceded a goal in five straight Pac-12 games after the wild 3-2 win against USC and haven’t lost a game at home since a 1-0 loss against Santa Clara on November 16, 2016. To crack open the Pac-12 race, UCLA needs to find a way to win this one.
Sunday, October 20
Speaking of a march to a regular season title, the Hoyas face arguably their most difficult remaining Big East challenge with a trip to Butler. Creighton thwarted Georgetown’s chances for a perfect record in league play, jumping out to a two-goal lead last Sunday and holding on for a 2-2 draw. A win wouldn’t just draw Butler level on points, but it would also be a huge boost for an RPI that is close to 100. If Annika Schmidt has a big game at the back, that could lay the foundation for the Bulldogs to pop forward and look for a winning goal from a set piece. The sophomore duo of Katie Soderstrom and Anja Savich must also step up, as the two have combined for 14 goals and 11 assists. Butler has the talent to hold serve on home and step into the race.