It’s another Sunday feast of huge conference games as the slog of the women’s college soccer campaign picks up pace.
Here’s a look at five of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend (all times EST).
While much has been made about Georgetown’s tremendous start to the season, two 0-0 draws out of its first three Big East clashes leaves it with work to do, as DePaul, Providence and Marquette sit ahead of the Hoyas in the standings. The home confines of Shaw Field should provide a nice backdrop for a meeting against a Butler team that has stumbled of late, winless and without a goal in its last three games. Regardless of the recent struggles of late, the matchup between two of the nation’s best attacking midfielders, Serina Kashimoto and Rachel Corboz, makes for compelling action.
Prediction: Georgetown 1-0 Butler
The Razorbacks are rolling straight into this clash between two SEC title hopefuls. Hurricane Matthew throws a shade of uncertainty into the mix, depending if it reaches into South Carolina and impacts the conditions in Columbia. That aside, the ramifications are steep for both sides. Forward Savannah McCaskill has carried the Gamecock offense for large stretches of the season, piling up 11 goals and six assists to this point. She’ll be the focal point for Arkansas defense. The Razorbacks have found success blending in a pair of fantastic freshmen, as Kayla McKeon and Stefani Doyle are both vital to what Arkansas can do, while more experienced players like Jessi Hartzler and Claire Kelley help get the job done. There’s still too much time left in the SEC season for this to determine the regular season champ, but whichever side wins will be on the inside track.
Prediction: Arkansas 2-1 South Carolina
All of a sudden it looks like Notre Dame could have a shot at the ACC regular crown after vanquishing Clemson by a 1-0 score on Thursday night. Defense is the central factor in the Irish’s success, conceding just once in the last four games. Slowing down Virginia’s vaunted offense then becomes critical, because Notre Dame isn’t as prolific in scoring. Jennifer Westendorf is a dangerous forward that can finish in a variety of ways, though Notre Dame has scored more than two goals just three times all season. The Cavaliers travel to South Bend fresh off a 6-0 demolition of Pitt, riding the hot-scoring duo of Veronica Latsko and Alexis Shaffer.
Prediction: Notre Dame 1-1 Virginia
Perhaps the biggest game of the weekend, USC can seize the inside track on the Pac-12 race if it can find a way to secure the full points against a Cal team that drew 1-1 at UCLA on Thursday night. Junior goalkeeper Emily Boyd was at the heart of that effort, as her 11 saves had the Golden Bears within a minute of upsetting the Bruins. Ifeoma Onumonu and Arielle Ship create most of the danger in the final third, and will be up against a determined and athletic USC defense. The hosts are riding high into this one however, defeating Stanford 3-0 thanks to a pair of Morgan Andrews goals, and a sensational long range effort off the foot of Alex Anthony. If USC can extend its win streak to 11, it bodes well for conference title hopes, and while Cal is a formidable opponent, USC is riding high at the moment and will be difficult to stop.
Prediction: USC 2-1 California
The longtime dominant forces in the Pac-12 square off in Westwood, with the Cardinal likely to be smarting from a 3-0 loss at the hands of USC. It’s hard to know how this one shakes out. UCLA, now facing questions about its offense with the loss of Darian Jenkins for the season, must find a way past Stanford’s imposing defense. Jessie Fleming and Anika Rodriguez will be pivotal for that effort, as they look to get the better of Tierna Davidson and Andi Sullivan in the midfield. Goalkeeper Jane Campbell returns after missing Thursday’s loss due to the red card picked up the game prior, a big boost for Stanford. Neither team will want to lose this one, which could trigger a low-scoring affair.
Prediction: Stanford 0-0 UCLA