A new women’s Division I college season begins on Thursday, as programs begin the march towards the College Cup.
Games are set to take place all over the country. Below are five of the best matches set to take place over the opening weekend.
Thursday, August 22
Both sides can stake a claim as potential dark horse contenders for a postseason push. And whichever side acquits themselves well in this matchup can take some confidence and momentum from what should be a marquee win. It’s a game that could have plenty of goals in it, with A&M rolling into town with Taylor Ziemer and Ally Watt looking to build a partnership. On the other side, the Broncos boast the twin-pronged attack led by Kelcie Hedge and Kelsey Turnbow. Sprinkle in Isabella D’Aquila making her college debut, and Julie Doyle seeking a bounce back campaign, and the entertainment potential here is high.
Friday, August 23
Two perennial powers greet one another in State College, with questions to answer and a statement to make. Sam Coffey’s joined Penn State, and her ability to create chances against a Stanford back line that lost Alana Cook and Tierna Davidson will shine a light on how this season could play out. Catarina Macario’s matchup with Kaleigh Riehl is going to paint another picture as well, as the Stanford striker’s eyeing a second straight TDS Player of the Year award and a return to the College Cup for the Cardinal.
Sunday, August 25
Two under-the-radar squads meet on the Hilltop this Sunday, with the opportunity to both pick up what could be an important win. That rings especially true for NC State, to get its at-large resume off to a strong start. Tziarra King enters her final season with a chance to cement her pro potential, and her battle with outside back Meaghan Nally should be fascinating. The Hoyas need to find goals somewhere after losing Kyra Carusa and Caitlin Farrell, but bring back Paula Germino-Watnick in the engine room.
An inter-state battle provides a fascinating platform for both programs. The Gators seek a bounce back after missing the NCAA tournament last fall, and should have Deanne Rose back and a strong recruiting class to help make that push. Fellow Canuck Evelyne Viens is one of the game’s premier strikers, and her pace in behind is going to be a lot for the SEC side to deal with. There’s a prime opportunity for either Florida to signal that its back with a win, or South Florida to get the better over the AAC side.
Closing out the weekend is one of the premier rivalries in ACC soccer – playing in a non-conference game, the first of two meetings this fall. Duke faces the task of reloading its offense, meaning a lot of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of sensational senior Ella Stevens. Any early success in the final third here would be a nice development, especially against a UNC side anchored by Emily Fox. Bottling up Alessia Russo and her role here is going to be telling, as the English youth national team striker can be difficult to slow down in the college game.