Top 5 DI Women’s Matches to Watch (All times EST)
With a game in hand on the Cowgirls (not to mention most of the rest of the Big 12) Friday night’s matchup is an opportunity for the Mountaineers to take a big step towards clinching a regular season conference title. They can’t win it outright just yet, but Oklahoma State’s visit represents a chance to continue and pull away as the two teams are currently tied atop the standings. The Mountaineers will be without two linchpins however, as Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence are going to be with the Canadian Women’s National Team. Freshman stalwart Michaela Abam is capable of slotting into Buchanan’s center back spot without missing too much of a beat, while forward Kate Schwindel is heating up at the right time and should provide the offense needed.
Oklahoma State has engineered a nice turnaround this season after losing its first six games of the season. Since then, they’ve gone 9-1-1, with the lone loss to Kansas. A stingy defense has been key, not to mention timely goals from Allie Stephenson. The big concern for OSU is that they haven’t won a single game on the road this season, with a 0-4-1 record in 2014.
Catching up to Penn State might be a bridge to far for both of these teams when it comes to the Big Ten title race, but that shouldn’t diminish the accomplishments of these two sides. Rutgers has made a relatively smooth transition to its new digs, as the play of Madison Tiernan, Erica Skroski and goalkeeper Casey Murphy has the team humming under new head coach Mike O’Neil.
Topping the Badgers on their home turf won’t be easy, as Rose Lavelle and Kinley McNicoll provide youthful exuberance and quality in the team’s offense, while Genevieve Richard and Cara Walls offer up experience. Both sides will be eager to battle it out to keep the pressure on the Nittany Lions.
No. 4 Stanford(w) (12-1-2, 4-1-1 Pac-12) at No. 22 Arizona State (9-2-4, 2-1-3 Pac-12), Friday, Oct. 26, 4 p.m.
As the Cardinal make the trip to Arizona, this is more about the Sun Devils than Stanford. The Pac-12 race isn’t over by any of the stretch of the imagination, although UCLA’s commanding league position is likely to widen. This Friday’s matchup is a chance for Arizona State to notch another impressive result against the conference’s cream of the crop, as the Sun Devils managed a draw on its home turf against the Bruins.
Forward Cali Farquharson showed she can trouble the best defenders in the nation and she’ll look to do the same on home turf, and a win should put any NCAA Tournament doubt out of the Sun Devils’ minds.
Depending on results from other games this weekend, the Aggies could potentially clinch an SEC regular season title (or at least a portion of it) if they find a way to get a result when the Gamecocks visit College Station. The Aggies first head on the road for a difficult test against Arkansas, and if they lose or draw that game, this meeting with South Carolina takes on even more importance.
Injury concerns could linger over South Carolina goalkeeper extraordinaire Sabrina D’Angelo, who exited last week’s game with a knock but could be back in goal. The Aggies, who boast a formidable attack behind the likes of Shea Groom and Kelley Monogue, will need to be at their best in this game as they chase a coveted No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
No. 3 Virginia(w) (14-1-0, 6-1-0 ACC) at No. 14 Virginia Tech (12-4-0, 3-4-0 ACC), Sunday, Oct. 26, 5 p.m.
The streaking Cavaliers travel a couple of hours south to face the slumping Hokies. Virginia can keep pace in the ACC race with the full points in Blacksburg. Morgan Brian will still be unavailable, which is a concern despite how well the team has played with the likes of Danielle Colaprico, Brittney Ratcliffe and Makenzy Doniak helping the team maintain its prolific offensive output.
The knock on Virginia’s resume this year has been a lack of wins against RPI heavy hitters, as the team’s only loss of the season also came against its best opponents to date, Florida State. However, Steve Swanson’s side did take down Notre Dame in South Bend, a win that looks better and better at this point. The Hokies enter this meeting in need of a win to stop a slide, as they’ve dropped three of five games in the ACC. A 1-0 loss against a Wake Forest side below .500 was the latest, though the Hokies were back on track Thursday night in a 5-0 win against Syracuse.