The women’s Division I season is steaming towards its regular season finale.
That means the stakes are high in regular season conference clashes, especially in the Ivy and Patriot Leagues.
These are five of the most intriguing matches to watch.
Saturday, Oct. 14
The Ivy League race is always one of the more intriguing of the college campaign, and both Columbia and Princeton sit atop the standings. Given that the regular season winner gets the league’s automatic tournament spot, it makes this meeting between Columbia and Princeton all the more critical. The Tigers have conceded the second-fewest goals in the country, allowing three in 12 games. If the defense continues to shine, it’s hard to see Columbia able to find the back of the net. That opens the door for Abby Givens, Mimi Asom and Courtney O’Brien to find the back of the net and continue the program’s success. The stakes of an Ivy League crown are high especially for Columbia, while Princeton’s RPI at No. 6 currently has them sitting pretty for an at-large bid.
Heading into another weekend of Patriot League action features two of the top three teams battling in conference play. Bucknell struggled during its non-conference schedule, though has now spun off five wins in all five Patriot League games. Kendall Ham hasn’t quite hit the prolific rate of 2016, though she’s first on the team with five goals. Eliza Doll is one of the key figures for Colgate, as they’ll look to close the gap on the Bisons and battle their way into a top two spot.
Sunday, Oct. 15
Another huge game in Winston-Salem for the Demon Deacons, which couldn’t muster a memorable win against North Carolina last weekend. This time, it’s the Seminoles that roll into town, fresh off an impressive 2-0 victory against in-state rivals Florida on Thursday night. Freshman midfielder Gloriana Villalobos is starting to get on a roll, setting up both tallies on Thursday, and looking more and more comfortable in college soccer. Deyna Castellanos is the ever-present danger that Wake needs to keep an eye on. An influx of promising freshmen have boosted the hosts back into contention for postseason play, and a memorable win against the Seminoles would provide a confidence boost.
Don’t look now, but the Buckeyes have a real shot at winning the Big Ten crown. With Sunday’s opponent Rutgers holding Penn State to a 0-0 draw, and the Buckeyes winning on Thursday at Maryland, a win in New Jersey would keep Ohio State in the driver’s seat. Getting that will is far from a straightforward task, obviously, as the Scarlet Knights’ defense-first approach is always difficult to tussle with. The Buckeyes back line is no slouch either, having conceded just six games in its 15 matches. Sammy Edwards has stepped up in a big way, with seven goals and five assists to lead the team. There’s a chance that this is another 0-0 draw, but if Ohio State can come up with a win, it’s a turning point in the Big Ten race.
A relatively promising RPI position has LSU in the mix for a potential at-large bid. But this rescheduled game is a huge chance to solidify their chances for a marquee victory, as UCF visits. LSU’s decent crop of freshman has boosted their position, while Caroline Brockmeier’s performance in goal is underrated and Alex Thomas leading the team’s scoring outlet. Interestingly enough, this game was originally scheduled to take place in Orlando at UCF, though Baton Rouge will now host it, providing a nice break for LSU. Senior forwards Morgan Ferrara and Kayla Adamek have been a handful to slow down, while German freshman Dina Orschmann’s been an impact player from day one. Her international teammate, Stefanie Sanders, is slowly playing her way into the mix after suffering an ACL injury earlier in the year. If the Tigers can secure the upset, it takes one step closer to a spot in the NCAA Tournament.