Top Five Matches to Watch
The Sunshine State’s top two Division I teams battle in Tallahassee, and is certainly a must-watch matchup. The young Seminoles have fared well early on, though this provides one of its toughest tests yet. Slowing down Savannah Jordan is the key here for FSU, with the veteran leadership of Kirsten Crowley and Cassie Miller critical to that effort. Should the Seminoles manage to do that, its attack should have enough to get the job done at home.
UPDATE: The Florida-FSU clash has been canceled due to Hurricane Hermine. No new date has been scheduled at this time.
With the format of the ACC schedule leaving Duke and Carolina without an in conference matchup, the two sides scheduled a non-conference game for this weekend that should produce some compelling soccer. The Blue Devils had their momentum slowed just a touch with a defeat against Arkansas last weekend, though got things back on track by defeating Coastal Carolina at home. Both teams have played capable of putting the ball in the back of the net, as Taylor Racioppi, Toni Payne and Imani Dorsey key Duke’s offense, while freshmen Bridgette Andrzejewski and Zoe Redei have two goals apiece for the Tar Heels. North Carolina saw one of its games washed out last weekend down in Florida, and battled back against Florida Atlantic for a 3-2 overtime win. Friday’s clash here is a sneak peek into the ACC race and how things could shake out later on in the year.
Prediction: Duke 2-2 North Carolina
With games against Florida and Texas A&M already under its belt, UCLA welcomes the national champions as it continues a tough non-conference schedule. The Nittany Lions, still trying to find their feet and recover from graduation and U20 absences, have shown some pluck against high-level opponents this far. Frannie Crouse got on the score sheet last weekend against BYU, and her ability to cause problems up front gives Penn State optimism after watching Savannah Jordan go to work against UCLA on Sunday. A high-scoring game could on the cards, as Jessie Fleming continues to settle into a role in the Bruin lineup, and forwards Julie Hernandez and Darian Jenkins proving to be dangerous options for the Bruins. Entertainment should be the big winner here on Friday.
Prediction: UCLA 3-2 Penn State
Certainly South Carolina’s premier collegiate rivalry, Clemson makes the trip to Columbia to face the Gamecocks, as both sides seek to get one over their in-state foes. Both are off to solid starts to the season, with the Tigers’ lone blemish a loss at West Virginia, and the Gamecocks drawing Oklahoma on the road in their season opener. The formulas for both sides are similar, whether it’s leaning on a tough defense, solid midfield foundation and timely scoring, there is little separating the two sides. Clemson might have the edge given the experience of Kailen Sheridan between the posts, and Catrina Atanda has shown flashes of upper her goal-scoring output this season. Savannah McCaskill and Chelsea Drennan are both quality attacking options in their own right, and should prove to be difficult to bottle up. Clemson has won two games running and three of the last four meetings, so the Gamecocks are sure to be eager to defend home turf.
UPDATE: The game has been moved to Saturday due to impending inclement weather from Tropical Storm Hermine.
Prediction: South Carolina 2-1 Clemson
An East Coast swing for the Waves is an opportunity to bounce back from a tough 3-0 defeat at the hands of USC on Sunday. Pepperdine faces Maryland on Friday afternoon before bussing down to Charlottesville to face a Virginia team that has set a brisk pace for the season. Through four games, the Cavaliers have yet to conceded a goal – though without facing any Top 25 opposition – and the offense has found the back of the net 13 times. In fact, Virginia opponents have just managed nine shots total during that span. Those numbers will surely change, although the play of Veronica Latsko, Alexis Shaffer and freshmen Taylor Ziemer and Alissa Gorzak indicate that there are plenty of goals in this squad. Pepperdine’s Rylee Baisden started red hot during the first week of the season, scoring three times and adding two assists. She’ll be a critical piece if this game turns into a high-scoring affair.
Prediction: Virginia 2-0 Pepperdine
Team to Watch
The early stages of the season has been up-and-down for Wisconsin, battling to a pair of draws over the past week against opposition they would’ve preferred to beat (Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Drake). This week’s non-conference trip takes the Badgers to Northern California, where extremely difficult battles with Stanford on Thursday and Santa Clara on Sunday. Performances there will give Wisconsin ample opportunity to secure key wins at this early stage of the season.
Players to Watch
D Chloe Froment, Long Beach State – One of the early success stories out west belongs to LBSU, and French freshman defender Froment has played a big hand in that. Her set piece delivery has provided another weapon for a team that already boasts quality players like Mimi Rangel and Ashley Gonzales. Another big match is on the calendar this weekend for Beach, with games against Loyola Marymount and Penn State.
F Mackenzie Cowley, George Washington – So far, it’s been three wins from three for the Colonials, and they’ll stay close to home against this weekend. A quick trip up to UMBC on Thursday went well (Cowley scored a goal) and is followed by a much tougher test on Sunday against Arkansas, which is riding high after beating Duke at home. Cowley has three goals so far this season, and she’ll need to be at her best in order to break down and solve a resolute Arkansas side.