Women’s Soccer Games of the Week 10/4 - 10/7
The first weekend of October brings the West Coast Conference into action with a dynamic matchup on Friday night as Jerry Smith’s Santa Clara squad travels to Provo to take on the high-flying BYU Cougars. Texas A&M gets a good home test against a tough Florida squad, and UCLA heads on the road for a potential trap game up in Corvallis on Sunday afternoon as well. Here is a look at these three key matchups.
The game of the year in the West Coast Conference takes place right out of the gates as the Santa Clara Broncos head into the very difficult environment of South Field in Provo to take on a high-flying, very confident Brigham Young squad. Julie Johnston’s return from the FIFA U-20 World Cup has helped bring stability to the very balanced offensive attack. She has contributed three goals to go along with Lauren Matheson’s four, and Sofia Huerta’s three goals. Defending, however, has been tough at times for Santa Clara. They have only given up nine goals since the six-goal barrage by Stanford in the opener. The ability to limit scoring chances for BYU is going to be crucial on Friday night. The Cougars just continue to roll, playing tough lock down defense and winning three consecutive 1-0 matches. Offensive balance has been key as three players, Jaiden Thornock, Michele Murphy, and Jessica Ringwood have tallied five goals each. Carlee Payne Holmoe has been the leading playmaker for the Cougars with six assists along with four goals. With a 7-0-0 home mark, Brigham Young has been very difficult to deal with. Factor in the altitude and the ability to light up the scoreboard and it is going to be a tall task for Santa Clara to get a result on Friday night.
A raucous crowd awaits the visiting Gators, winners of five consecutive matches heading into this weekend’s play. Florida has gotten on this win-streak by playing very solid offensively. They have notched 15 goals over the past five games, which has taken the pressure off of the backline to not have to worry about pitching a shutout every match. Havanna Solaun and Holly King have been the team spark plugs during the SEC run of success as they each have tallied three goals. The Aggies sit safely at the top of the SEC West Standings and seem to be transitioning nicely into their conference environment. Except for a draw at Lexington against Kentucky, they have been tough to deal with offensively and are even more impressive along the backline. Texas A&M has only allowed two goals to conference opponents and has only allowed five goals all season, which is very impressive and will help them dearly come postseason in November. Annie Kunz and Kelley Monogue lead the way offensively with seven and six goals respectively. I know the Gators are unbeaten on Sunday’s but playing at Ellis Field is a completely different beast and the Aggies are rolling good enough that they should get a result on Sunday.
The Bruins are in a groove as they are coming off a sweep of the Arizona schools. Now they turn right back around and head to the Willamette Valley to face the Ducks and a talented Beaver squad on Sunday afternoon. UCLA is led by Zakiya Bywaters, who has stepped up and taken on the role of anchoring the Bruin attack. She already has notched nine goals and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Defensively, the Bruins have continued to be a lock-down defensive squad under second-year Head Coach B.J. Snow. They have only allowed four goals and, more importantly, they have limited their opponent’s quality scoring chances on goal by allowing only 36 shots on frame in 11 matches. For Oregon State, it’s about bouncing back and defending the home field in this contest. Last week down in the Bay Area was a rough one. Stanford was able to cash in on scoring chances repeatedly enroute to a 5-1 win over Oregon State and Sunday Cal just controlled the match throughout. The Beavers need to tighten things up defensively and get key offensive chances created by Megan Miller and Jenna Richardson to be able to get an early goal and make UCLA push forward. The Bruins need to be on upset alert as Corvallis just has a sneaky knack of lulling teams to sleep. This will be a great test of the overall mental toughness of both teams and should be a fairly tight match.