Top Five Matches to Watch (all times EST)
Chances of an at large bid in the NCAA Tournament are fading quickly for Wisconsin, which has yet to taste the same success of seasons past despite the fact that midfielder Rose Lavelle is in her senior season. A road trip to Minnesota is not an easy tonic, although it presents tremendous opportunity for the Badgers to pick up a win against an opponent ahead of them in the Big Ten standings. Shutting down Simone Kolander is one of the keys to stopping the Golden Gophers, as the dynamic attacker is enjoying a tremendous 2016 campaign.
Prediction: Minnesota 3-0 Wisconsin
Unbeaten starts to the 2016 season have both Louisville and Notre Dame knocking on the door of top five spots in the ACC. While it remains relatively premature to get carried away, the two sides will be eager to secure more points and shore up NCAA Tournament hopes. The Irish enter Saturday’s clash seven games unbeaten, while Louisville has won three of four, unbeaten during that run. Goalkeeper Kaela Little and the Notre Dame defense is the foundation for the early results, as the team has conceded just five times, the same number of goals scored by freshman forward Jennifer Westerndorf. An all hands on deck approach has buoyed the Louisville attack, as 13 different players on the roster have chipped in. Freshman Brooklynn Rivers leads the team, anchored by two two-goal games. Goalkeepers could be decisive, as Notre Dame’s Little will be countered by the underrated Taylor Bucklin.
Prediction: Notre Dame 1-0 Louisville
Another weekend, another heavyweight clash in the ACC. The two programs squaring off this time, Virginia and North Carolina, have both had their share of ups and downs at this early juncture of the season. Junior Veronica Latsko continues to emerge as a consistent scoring threat for the Virginia attack, which is looking to get back to its prodigious best after scoring only one goal in two straight games (a loss to Miami and draw at Florida State). An intriguing, more wide-open ACC race is taking shape so far in 2016, making this matchup all the more critical. Midfielder Annie Kingman and freshman forward Bridgette Andrzejewski have both scored four goals each, becoming reliable threats in the final third for the Tar Heels. With Virginia the hosts this time around, it could be home-field advantage that tips the favors in the balance of the Cavaliers
Prediction: Virginia 2-1 North Carolina
Perhaps the only program standing in the way of West Virginia and a clean sweep of the Big 12 could be this Sunday’s matchup against the Sooners. The Mountaineers obviously haven’t stepped on the field in league play until Friday night’s clash Baylor, so that proclamation is a bit premature. But Oklahoma has enjoyed a stellar start to the season, currently riding a seven-game winning streak into it’s Friday meeting at Iowa State. Senior forward Liz Keester guides the offense in her final year, and she’ll need to be on top of her game in order to create problems for the Kadeisha Buchanan-led back line.
Prediction: West Virginia 1-0 Oklahoma
Whoever drew up Oregon’s Pac-12 schedule did the Ducks no favors. After opening last weekend on the road against Stanford, USC and UCLA visit Eugene. After Thursday’s loss against USC, Oregon finds itself in must-win territory, with the caveat that this is perhaps the most difficult game left on its Pac-12 schedule. Jayne Lydiatt and Kyra Fawcett must find a way to crack a UCLA defense that is rounding into form, conceding just two goals from its last five games, including a 1-0 victory against Oregon State. In the final third, Canadian Jessie Fleming is scoring goals left and right, as she has seven tallies in just 393 minutes, good for one goal every 56 minutes. Australian goalkeeper Teagan Micah has taken the starting role in net and run away with it, making a critical stop on a penalty kick against Oregon State.
Prediction: UCLA 2-0 Oregon