Women’s Weekend Preview: Top two clash

Women’s Weekend Preview: Top two clash
by Travis Clark
September 6, 2018

The high-quality games continue this weekend in the women’s Division I college game. Don’t miss these five matches on deck.

Friday, September 7

Florida (2-3-1) at No. 4 Florida State (5-0-1), 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)

From a rankings and roster perspective, this matchup looks to be a bit lopsided in favor of the Seminoles, who have started well in 2018. The Gators aren’t in the best of form, winless in their last four games, without a goal in that stretch. Deanne Rose’s absence has played a big factor, as a hamstring injury has left her with just 77 minutes on the season, along with a call-up to the Canadian full team. If she can’t go, Florida’s options to stretch FSU’s tough backline are limited. Yujie Zhao had a big moment last weekend against UCLA, helping the Seminoles storm to a big win. Things are looking promising for the ACC side so far, and they’ll look to keep it going in this Friday night matchup.

Prediction: Florida State 2-0 Florida

Sunday, September 9

No. 3 Virginia (5-0) at No. 15 Penn State (3-2), 1 p.m. (BTN Plus)

By far Virginia’s biggest test of the season looms on Sunday when the Cavaliers hit the road to visit State College. It’s been an impressive start to the season for Virginia, with 14 goals from the first five games against middling opposition. Regardless of that, the team looks good, whether defenders Zoe Morse or Phoebe McClernon building from the back or freshman such as Rebecca Jarrett or Alexa Spaanstra making an early impact in the goal-scoring department. So far, the team has split goals, as five players have chipped in two tallies entering Thursday’s game against Liberty. Penn State certainly has the quality to slow down Virginia, as Kaleigh Riehl and Emily Ogle are part of a formidable spine. Finding a game-breaker in the final third is a key for the Nittany Lions both in this game and looking ahead to the start of the Big Ten schedule. Kerry Abello has put her hand up, with two goals and two assists so far. Expect to see a close encounter, with the hosts perhaps edging it.

Prediction: Penn State 1-0 Virginia

Nebraska (3-2-1) at No. 11 NC State (5-0-1), 1 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)

After losing 6-0 on Sunday night at Baylor, Nebraska head to North Carolina for another tough pair of matches. Thursday night features a trip to Duke, before the Huskers head to Raleigh for this Sunday match. Fine-tuning the defense is critical to Nebraska’s chances of sneaking a win; Savanah Uveges can help tick things over in the final third but slowing down Tziarra King has to be the focal point of picking up the marquee win. King has five goals and two assists so far, exactly half of NC State’s goals this season.

Prediction: NC State 2-0 Nebraska

La Salle (5-1) at No. 24 Rutgers (4-0-1), 1 p.m. (BTN2go.com)

While this may not be a high-scoring clash between two teams that met in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, it features an A10 side hungry for a big win and a Scarlet Knight team staying hot. Rutgers still has a tough defense to break down, though they’ve hardly faced a murderer’s row of early-season opponents. Amirah Ali is showing no signs of slowing down as a sophomore, and her ability to score for Rutgers is significant for the entire season, not just this game. If La Salle is to come away with the upset, they need a big game in the final third from Madison Bower.

Prediction: Rutgers 1-0 La Salle

No. 2 North Carolina (5-0-1) at No. 1 Stanford (4-0), 5:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

Anytime the top two teams in the country meet, the potential for a spectacle is there. Despite last weekend’s struggle of conceding a goal from the run of play, the Cardinal rolled to a fourth straight win. Now facing a double-dip challenge of Notre Dame on Friday and the Tar Heels on Sunday. Catarina Macario’s played just two games, scoring three times, so her availability for both games is interesting. Even if she can’t go, the Cardinal have already seen 10 different players score a goal; a number of difference players can step up. North Carolina’s got enough going forward to make a run at the upset and having Alessia Russo back could spark the team in the final third. Julia Ashley and Lotte Wubben-Moy have led an ever-improving back line that hasn’t conceded in the last three games. This game has all the ingredients for a classic.

Prediction: Stanford 2-1 North Carolina

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