The end of the regular season in the women’s DI soccer season looms on the horizon, as the conference clashes intensify over the coming weekend.
Sunday is the big day to watch over the next few days, with these five matches all carrying significant interest (times listed as EST).
Welcoming the Northern California schools to Boulder for a two-game swing, Colorado lost on Thursday night by a 1-0 score to California. Bouncing back in the span of a couple of days to take on Stanford, it will be a big test for the Buffaloes. Stanford continues to score goals for fun, beating Utah at home by a 3-0 score. The Cardinal are marching along with UCLA in a late October showdown for the Pac-12 crown. Getting past Colorado, which will rely on midfielder Taylor Kornieck and a solid defense, is the next hurdle to cross.
The nation’s longest winning streak is put to a stiff test in Durham, as the Blue Devils welcome Florida State. Duke has won 12 straight since losing to North Carolina on the first day of the season. Everything is going right: senior Imani Dorsey is having a career year, key attacking pieces Taylor Racioppi and Kayla McCoy remain healthy, while sophomore Ella Stevens is thriving from deep positions. Florida State is no slouch, obviously, and the firepower of Deyna Castellanos is something to keep an eye on. She needs help in the form of Megan Connolly and Gloriana Villalobos, while Cassie Miller’s performance in goal could be a decisive factor.
Through the first five games of the SEC schedule, it’s been South Carolina ruling the roost, sitting in first place. The two teams directly behind the Gamecocks, Vandy and Florida, will look both head into this match looking for the full points in order to keep the pressure on the leaders. Florida’s quietly having another great season, the one team to deal Stanford a loss and continuing to look solid. The return of Simone Charley has been a big boost for the Commodores, and her ability to stretch a defense will be a big test for the Gators. Transfer Stephanie Amack bolstered the team at the back, and she’ll look to put the shackles on Florida freshman Deanne Rose.
The second of four straight games on the road for the Tar Heels takes them to Wake Forest, one of the ACC’s pleasant surprises. The ACC road tests have yet to trouble UNC, which is playing its home games away from Fetzer Field while it gets renovated this season. That includes wins at Florida State and Virginia, as Dorian Bailey’s injected scoring punch from the bench and senior Joanna Boyles continues to make magic in the midfield. The Demon Deacons have already picked up a couple of huge wins this season, and barring a disastrous stretch run, have virtually guaranteed at least an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. They’ll be after more than that, and a win at home against UNC wouldn’t hurt. Maddie Huster’s continued her underrated job in the midfield, while overseas freshman Vicky Krug and Estelle Laurier have been big pieces of the team’s success.
The Big Ten always seems to have one team emerge from under the radar to challenge at the top. This year’s version is Purdue, as a healthy Maddy Williams has helped fire the Boilermakers into contention. She’s scored nine and setup eight ahead of this crucial weekend road trip for Purdue, which will face Minnesota on the heels of a Friday night clash against Wisconsin. The only reason the Golden Gophers’ success is somewhat of a surprise is the caliber of seniors that they lost after a sensational 2016. April Bockin and Sydney Squires have been big pieces in the final third, though Minnesota’s success has come off its defense. Conceding just nine goals through the first 13 games of the season is a solid foundation, and one that has Minnesota poised for a big year.