Some of the best matchups over the next few days are slated for Thursday in women’s DI soccer. Don’t miss these five games.
Thursday, September 12
The Buffaloes are flying high after a six-game homestand to begin the season. A trip to Tallahassee is a huge test, as Taylor Kornieck pits herself against the likes of Yujie Zhao and Jaelin Howell in central midfield. That’s not even mentioning Deyna Castellanos, who is popping up more and more to setup goals, and not just score her own. It’s a massive challenge for the Buffaloes, but they’ve shown the defensive quality to at least keep the game close. A big day from senior goalkeeper Jalen Tompkins could prove to be absolutely critical.
An extremely strong start for BYU gets put to the test with the arrival of Texas A&M. Behind Elise Flake’s four goals, the Cougars have outscored opponents 12-1 through four games. Super senior Ally Watt hasn’t been quite flying from a statistical perspective, with just two goals and an assist. But it’s been a collective approach to the attack, with contributions from Jimena Lopez, Addie McCain and Taylor Ziemer. BYU can be tough to beat at home, but the Aggies have the setup to cause plenty of problems.
A non-conference match between two ACC opponents sees the Demon Deacons travel to Chapel Hill to present arguably the biggest test of the season for both sides. Wake’s quietly enjoyed an unbeaten start, albeit against relatively lightweight opposition (aside from a 2-1 win against Santa Clara). They sputtered a bit last week against VCU in a 0-0 draw, and how the offense can fire here could determine their chances of an upset. Hayley Younginer, Abby McNamara and Hulda Arnarsdottir are tied for the team lead with two goals apiece. The Tar Heels are facing a lengthy stretch without Taylor Otto, who was injured last week against LSU. Brianna Pinto’s been on fire in the final third, with six goals through six games so far.
Sunday, September 15
Arguably the best matchup of the week, the Cavaliers hit the road to face a Nittany Lion team that will be out for revenge after last year’s loss to UVA at home. Frankie Tagliaferri, Ally Schlegel and Sam Coffey have all enjoyed success at the start of the season going forward, but the key to this one could be how each team’s back line steps up. Diana Ordonez has started out scoring goals for fun, and if she’s able to cope with a quality defender like Kaleigh Riehl, it’s only going to boost her stock further. How Penn State’s outside backs deal with Rebecca Jarrett, one of the fastest flank players in DI soccer, is another matchup to watch within this game.
The two South Carolina teams head into Sunday’s rivalry match with bragging rights and a nice non-conference result at stake. South Carolina has edged the series over the past decade, posting a 6-3-1 record, defeating Clemson by a 1-0 score in Columbia last fall. This year, the ACC side hosts rolling into the match with five wins in six. Scheduling could be a factor, as South Carolina welcomes Notre Dame to town on Thursday head of this clash. It could be nothing, but it could give the Tigers the edge, as they look to break down a defense that includes Grace Fisk and Anna Patten. Mariana Speckmaier’s provided a big chunk of the team’s offense, with five goals through the first six games. She’ll be key to unlocking South Carolina’s defense.