The big games are coming.
Results in October aren’t make or break. But when title contenders meet, it provides opportunity to gain the inside track on conference races, or even influence NCAA tournament rankings.
Here’s a look at five matches to watch for this weekend.
Top 5 matches to watch
Can the Cavaliers keep it up? Notre Dame’s visit is the next ACC test that UVA must pass if it wants to make it a lucky 13. And the key matchups and battles will be all over the place: Irish defenders Sammy Scofield and Katie Naughton will look to shutdown Makenzy Doniak and the high-flying Virginia offense, while Morgan Andrews and Mandy Laddish will battle in the midfield. Whatever happens, it's going to be an entertaining and has the potential to be the game of the year.
UCLA hasn’t beat the Cardinal since Oct. 31, 2008. So is this the year the Bruins finally snap the streak? Both teams are off to strong starts, have a mixed of experience and youth and loads of talent. Forward Taylor Uhl’s transfer to Stanford has worked out for both sides, and the poacher has ten tallies to her name already. Center back Abby Dahlkemper and goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland will do their best to keep Uhl at bay, while freshman Darian Jenkins looks to combine in the attack with Sam Mewis and Rosie White.
A second tough test in a four-day stretch sees the Hoos head south to Winston Salam to tussle with the Demon Deacons. Depending on how Thursday’s encounter with the Irish goes will dictate what’s at stake for the Cavaliers – it could be a chance to recover from a first loss, continue a winning streak or maintain an unbeaten run. Whatever the circumstances, shutting down Wake Forest forward Katie Stengel is critical to try and get the full points away from Klockner Stadium.
Slowing down the Nittany Lion attack is exactly what Minnesota managed to accomplish on Sunday. The Wolverines will look to replicate that in an important Big Ten encounter. Both teams will enter this game with the full week off, meaning rest will be at a premium. It’s a matchup of two big-time senior strikers: Nkem Eziruke, the Michigan stalwart, and Maya Hayes, the Penn State goal scorer who won the U20 World Cup in 2012 with the United States. There’s going to be little that separates this side.
One of only a handful of undefeated teams remaining in women’s college soccer, California puts that to the test both on Thursday against USC, and then welcomes the Bruins to Berkeley on Sunday. The Golden Bears have struck a balance up front and at the back. Offensively, Ifeoma Onumonu is once again the leading scorer with eight goals, supported in the attack by Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick and Samantha Witteman. A win over the Bruins would be quite the feat, and signal Cal’s intentions at a Pac-12 title challenge. On the other side, UCLA is likely to come into this one beat up with Thursday night’s game against Stanford coming before the trip north.
Team to Watch
With the offense humming behind the creative play of Charlyn Corral in midfield, Louisville has climbed the ranks of late, knocking on the door of national rankings everywhere. Winners of four straight and undefeated in the American Athletic Conference, the Cardinals host South Florida and UCF with a change to continue its unbeaten start to conference play.