Another weekend feast of college soccer action awaits the Division I women’s game. Below is a look at the games, players and teams to keep tabs on through the weekend.
Top 5 matches (all times EST)
Both teams enjoyed strong opening weekends heading into what will be a much stiffer test on Friday night. Duke’s freshmen hit the ground running against Weber State and Fresno State, though the challenge presented by the Nittany Lions is on a much different level. With a number of weapons across the field, including Emily Ogle, Raquel Rodriguez and Frannie Crouse, Duke’s young crop will be pushed as they look for the road upset.
The in state rivalry renews at Clemson as the Gamecocks hit the road for a match that could have bigger implications than one might think in the third game of the season (or second for Clemson). A win or loss for either side is far from doomsday, but a South Carolina win would give the SEC program a nice boost that could be useful later on down the road. That aside, both teams are still in the early stages of the season and the quest for bragging rights surely is significant. South Carolina sophomore is off to a strong start with a goal and assist in her first two games, while Chelsea Drennan has fired the attack with a goal and two helpers. The Tigers’ first game was washed out, so they’ll take the field for the second time this year. Freshmen reserves Lauren Harkes and Patrice DiPasquale fired the team’s offense in last weekend’s win over the College of Charleston.
Putting the clamps on a Pac-12 opponent on the road would serve notice, and it’ll be exactly what the Aztecs try to pull off in Berkeley. Freshman forward Leah Pruitt will look to replicate her opening weekend heroics, while defender Stacie Moran is once against an extremely reliable option at the back. After an opening day loss to a very good BYU side, Cal bounced back with a 5-1 victory against Hawaii heading into this weekend’s game. Arielle Ship’s hat trick paced them in the win as the Bears offense looks to keep rolling.
Perhaps the pick of the weekend’s action, the last loss Florida State suffered came on Sept. 5, 2014 against Florida at home. This year’s fixture between the two in state rivals is sure to be another spicy affair, especially with the Gators coming off a loss last Sunday against Ohio State. Savannah Jordan will look to solve the tough and determined Seminole back line, while her opposing number Cheyna Williams is the main danger up front for Florida State. Given each side’s emphasis on the defensive side of the ball, don’t be shocked if this proves to be a low-scoring affair.
Equal parts fascinating for the hosts and visitors alike, reloading UCLA begins a march through a demanding non-conference portion of its slate as Wisconsin comes to town. Both teams lost significant talent, but bright spots remain. Bruins forward Taylor Smith failed to score in the first two games of the season and will look to lead the line, while Rose Lavelle’s midfield form is critical for any joy the Badgers hope to find. The battle for midfield supremacy makes this a must-see matchup.
Player to Watch
A freak accident kept McKenzie Meehan out for the 2014 season, as she injured her Achilles heel and redshirted the season. Back in the lineup, the goal-scoring has hit the ground running for Boston College this season, scoring three times in the first two games of the season. The Eagles are on the road this weekend for matchups with Stanford and Pacific, as Meehan looks to keep her scoring streak alive.
Team to Watch
An impressive pair of arrivals in Austin will text Texas after its opening weekend victory against Miami (FL). The Big 12 program has an opportunity ahead of it on Friday against North Carolina, while Ohio State is the other team to feature on the slate. Goalkeeper Abby Smith has shown the capability to keep the Longhorns in various contests, and she’ll look to keep the Tar Heels and Buckeyes at bay.