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Weekend Preview: High stakes in NorCal

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: October 21, 2016

Top Five Matches to Watch (all times EST)

Santa Clara (5-5-4, 2-1-1) at No. 23 Pepperdine (9-3-3, 4-0-1), Friday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m. (wccsports.com)

Every match at this point of this season is critical for both Santa Clara and Pepperdine, as the former looks to bolster an at-large hope and the latter maintain its grip on first place in the WCC. Besting Pepperdine’s tight defense is the big ask for the Broncos, as goalkeeper Hannah Seabert has excelled between the posts. Rylee Baisden and Nicole Leggio pop up to provide timely scoring for the Waves, which haven’t lost in seven games. A big problem for the Broncos this season has been the inability to pick up wins on the road, as they’ve posted a 0-4-1 record in five previous away trips this season. Senior Jordan Jesolva’s been the main catalyst in the attack, and she’ll need to be big here as Santa Clara seeks the upset.

Prediction: Pepperdine 2-1 Santa Clara

No. 19 Minnesota (12-3-2, 6-1-2) at No. 20 Northwestern (13-1-2, 6-1-2), Saturday, Oct. 22, 7 p.m.

The Big Ten race looks set to come down to the wire, with these two sides trailing Penn State by just one point with two games left in the regular season. It’s a battle between the tough defense of Northwestern and Minnesota’s ability to break things open in the attack. The Wildcats have 12 shutouts on the season, and goalkeeper Lauren Clem’s only given up five tallies on the season. The Golden Gophers have the firepower in Josee Stiever and Simone Kolander to crack open this matchup, and if the visitors can take the game to Northwestern, it bodes well for Minnesota’s chances at putting pressure on Penn State.

Prediction: Minnesota 1-0 Northwestern

No. 22 Utah (10-2-3, 5-0-1) at No. 5 Stanford (12-1-2, 6-1), Sunday, Oct. 23, 4 p.m. (pac-12.com)

Thursday’s point in Berkeley already means that Utah’s road swing out west is a success, as the ability to avoid defeat puts the Utes on solid ground for a tournament bid. Coming away with a win at Stanford would be an even bigger result, though it’s going to be a tough, uphill battle, even if the Cardinal will be without Jane Campbell and Andi Sullivan. Both are away on international duty, though this Stanford squad is so deep that it shouldn’t be detrimental. Jordan DiBiasi and Tierna Davidson can boss the midfield without Sullivan, and Alison Jahansouz is plenty capable in goal. Bottling up the Utes leading scorer Hailey Skolmoski will be job one for the Stanford back line, as Stanford seeks to maintain its undefeated home record.

Prediction: Stanford 1-0 Utah

DePaul (9-5-2, 6-1) at No. 10 Georgetown (13-1-2, 5-0-2), Sunday, Oct. 23, 1 p.m. (guhoyas.com)

With both teams winning on Thursday, and two games left in the regular season, DePaul’s visit to the nation’s capital on Sunday afternoon could determine the Big East winner. The Hoyas are unbeaten in the last 14 games, winning 4-0 on the road at Seton Hall, and are in contention for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve played without talisman Rachel Corboz since she exited last weekend’s 2-0 win against Marquette, though the likes of Amanda Carolan, Grace Damaska and Crystal Thomas has ensured that the Hoyas offense hasn’t missed a beat. This one has the potential of turning into a high-scoring affair if DePaul stalwarts like Alexa Ben, Franny Cerny and Abby Reed can solve a Georgetown defense that’s conceded one goal in its last nine games.

Prediction: Georgetown 2-0 DePaul

No. 25 Colorado (12-4, 6-1) at No. 7 California (12-2-2, 5-0-2), Sunday, Oct. 23, 4 p.m.

This week’s Northern California road swing was always going to prove critical for the Buffaloes, which need to find a way to secure a result here that would put them on steadier ground for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The unlikely Pac-12 leaders could also keep themselves in contention for regular season honors and an automatic bid if they can find a result against the Golden Bears. It’s a simple matchup, as Colorado’s go-to scorers remain Danica Evans and Taylor Kornieck; one of those two must deliver a big performance to give Colorado a chance. On the other side, Cal has ample weapons in attack, whether through Arielle Ship or Ifeoma Onumonu. Possessing a glowing 8-0-1 record at home, Cal should have enough to win this one.

Prediction: California 2-1 Colorado

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