Women’s College Soccer Games of the Week 8/18 - 8/23
The 2012 edition of the women’s college soccer season gets underway on Friday night with several top flight intersectional contests. There are going to be several top ten squads without key players this weekend as they are off with United States Under-20 women’s national team. Thus, the opportunity for some possible upsets this weekend definitely does exist as teams like Duke and Florida State, 2011 College Cup participants, are taking their squads into some very hostile road environments to kick off their seasons. Here is a look at some of this weekend’s top matchups in women’s college soccer:
DUKE AT WILLIAM & MARY (7:00 pm Friday, Martin-Family Stadium at Albert-Daly Field in Williamsburg, Virginia)
This is an intriguing Big Conference vs. Regional Mid-Major Conference power matchup. The Blue Devils come into 2012 looking to get back to the National Championship game and the challenging road begins Friday night in Williamsburg against a very skilled William & Mary squad. The Tribe is led by senior midfielder, Mallory Schafer, a 2012 MAC Hermann watch list member. This game should be a more tightly contested battle than expected, especially if the Tribe can be successful in packing it in defensively when the Blue Devils are on the attack. The Blue Devils will be without Kelly Cobb up front and Molly Pathman on the backline as they are off with the U-20 Women’s National team for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. So it will be interesting to see what type of approach Duke takes in regards to formation and attacking William & Mary. This game has a 2-1 type of feel to it with set piece execution being a difference maker for both sides.
SANTA CLARA AT STANFORD (10:00 pm Friday at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium, Palo Alto, California)
The defending national champions, the Stanford Cardinal, begin their quest to repeat with a very difficult area opponent in the Santa Clara Broncos, led by long-time head coach Jerry Smith. The Cardinal was one of the best in the country last season on defense as they allowed only nine goals. That ability to play lock down defense is going to be very important early as the Cardinal look to reload their attack after the graduation of Lindsay Taylor and 2011 MAC Hermann award winner Teresa Noyola. They combined for 29 goals. With Chioma Ubogagu away on Under-20 national team duty and Marjani Hing-Glover injured, it’s going to be on the shoulders of Sydney Payne to lead the way Friday night. The Broncos will be without Julie Johnston, the Under-20 US women’s National team captain, and not having her playmaking ability in the lineup is probably going to be the difference as Stanford should escape with a win in a very tight 1-0 type of match.
PENN STATE AT VIRGINIA (7:00 pm Friday at Klocker Stadium, Charlottesville, VA)
This should be the best match of the weekend as both teams are top ten caliber squads even with missing key players for this match. The Nittany Lions come in as the expected favorites to win the Big 10. Penn State will be without Maya Hayes, who led the nation in scoring in 2011 with 31 goals and Midfielder Taylor Schram. Virginia will be without sophomore midfielder Morgan Brian, the top freshman in the country last year, along with head coach, Steve Swanson, who is in charge of the U-20 Women’s World Cup squad for the United States. However, the Cavaliers will still have plenty of firepower, led by senior Caroline Miller up front at forward, with plenty of help from Erica Hollenberg as well in this match. The goalkeeper position is the biggest question for Virginia as they need to find an answer to replace stalwart Chantel Jones. This should be a fairly offensive minded match, with the Cavaliers riding the home-field advantage of Klockner Stadium to a narrow 3-2 type of victory.
FLORIDA STATE AT MARQUETTE (2:00 pm Sunday at Valley Soccer Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
This matchup has the makings of a barnburner. Florida State, a very experienced talented squad, is going on the road in what should be a very challenging, hostile environment against Marquette. Marquette is led by Maegan Kelly, who is on the 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy preseason watch list. Kelly’s ability to challenge the Seminole backline, that has had a propensity to give up goals, will be a very telling storyline in this contest. For Florida State, the experience upfront, led by redshirt Tiffany McCarty, is going to be very important in being able to get an early goal to put the pressure on the Golden Eagles to attack and make the game more open, which is to the Seminoles advantage. These are both very talented squads and this contest could very well go down to the wire and result in either a draw or a one-goal victory for Marquette with the home-field advantage on their side.