It’s week 3, but in reality it’s week 1, as competitive fixtures start this weekend. Exhibitions were fun, but this is where the real action starts. As such, from this week onwards, a 3-2-1 will be awarded each week, and there will be a player of the year award at the end of it all.
Nicholls State (Jess Coates)
This week: at Southern Mississippi – 6am, Saturday August 23; at South Alabama – 3am, Monday August 25
With no exhibition matches on the schedule this season, Nicholls State launch straight into their schedule with two tough road fixtures against Southern Mississippi and South Alabama. Southern Mississippi will probably be the Colonels’ best chance at a win this weekend, but neither game will be an easy fixture for Nicholls State as Jess Coates looks to get off to a winning start as captain of the side.
Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)
This week: v Arkansas State – 6am, Saturday August 23
After a tough beginning to the season, with a 7-1 loss to Western Kentucky in an exhibition fixture, things don’t get a whole lot easier for Murray State as they take on Arkansas State at home to kick off their competitive fixtures. Nyomi Devine will be hoping to get another start in defence for the Racers, whilst Harriet Withers will be hoping that her attacking ability that saw her take 3 shots off the bench against Western Kentucky will see her get more game time this weekend.
Colorado (Kahlia Hogg, Alexandra Huynh)
This week: v Colorado State – 8am, Saturday August 23; v Northern Colorado – 7am, Monday August 25
As with last season, Colorado get their season started with matches against a couple of in-state rivals, firstly Colorado State, followed by Northern Colorado. With the Buffaloes looking to make a return to the national tournament after their surprising Sweet 16 run last season, these two matches will be seen as must-wins for the home side. Alexandra Huynh was an integral part of a defence that was almost unbeatable early on last season, whilst Kahlia Hogg’s two goals in the team’s pre-season scrimmage, coupled with her off-season form for Colorado Rush, could see both Australians playing vital roles for Colorado this season.
Hofstra (Emily Hulbert)
This week: at Connecticut – 9am, Saturday August 23; v Bucknell – 2am, Monday August 25
Fresh off a W-League championship with Melbourne Victory, Emily Hulbert starts her competitive career at Hofstra with a tough fixture against Connecticut. Hofstra had a solid season last year, but Connecticut are a top-level team and will be tough to beat. Things are not expected to be quite as tough against a lower-level Bucknell side, but the Pride will still need to be on their game to get a result and start the season on the right note.
Southern (Simone Arthur)
This week: v Texas Pan-American – 9am, Saturday August 23; at Arkansas-Little Rock – 2am, Monday August 25
Senior Simone Arthur, recently named to College Sports Madness’ All-SWAC Preseason Second Team, will be hoping to lead Southern to an early victory over Texas Pan-American before taking on Sun Belt side Arkansas-Little Rock. The game against Texas Pan-American will also be a historic game – it is the first game for Texas Pan-American’s new women’s soccer team; against a team that is mostly freshmen, the Jaguars should be confident of handing UTPA’s side a losing start to its history.
Alabama State (Shelbi Vienna-Hallam)
This week: at College of Charleston – 9am, Saturday August 23; at South Carolina State – 3am, Monday August 25; at Troy – 6am, Wednesday 27 August
A hectic week for Alabama State this week – three away games on a whistle stop tour of the southeast, a trip that they will be looking to get some positive results from after their disappointing loss to NAIA Faulkner University last weekend. Shelbi Vienna-Hallam had a solid game for the Hornets in what would have been a tough loss to take, and will hopefully get another start this weekend. It is often easy to forget that whilst Shelbi is in her first year of Division I soccer, she is not a freshman – her two years in a wildly successful junior college program have clearly assisted her progress.
UMBC (Lilly Rydon)
This week: v Navy – 9am, Saturday August 23; v Loyola Maryland – 9am, Wednesday 27 August
A team that is tipped to go back-to-back in conference play, UMBC get things started with a couple of games against local rivals, taking on Navy and Loyola Maryland. Navy are set to be the tougher test of these two games, but the Retrievers will be confident of getting results in both games as they return all bar two players from last year’s record-setting team. Lilly Rydon was a key part of that side as a junior, and will hope to kick on in her final season of college play.
Kennesaw State (Nicole Calder)
This week: at Alabama – 9am, Saturday August 23; v Georgia State – 9am, Tuesday 26 August
Kennesaw State kick off their season with a tough matchup against Alabama before coming home to play local rival Georgia State. The Owls are no stranger to playing even stronger sides than this, taking on both Duke and North Carolina last season. Unfortunately, Nicole Calder won’t be starting against Alabama, but this will almost certainly be a temporary move, as the South Australian senior has recently been named a team captain.
Creighton (Anastasia McCleary)
This week: at South Dakota State – 9am, Saturday August 23; v Incarnate Word – 4am, Monday 25 August
Junior transfer Anastasia McCleary has been highly involved in Creighton’s exhibition matches and will be hoping for more of the same as the Bluejays look to turn around their form in their first two competitive fixtures of the season. First up, Creighton will face South Dakota State, a match that they would be confident of winning, but this could easily be a banana skin for Creighton. Then, the Bluejays take on University of the Incarnate Word in a match that comprises their opponent’s first full Division I season.
Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Georgia Rowntree, Candace Sciberras)
This week: at Kansas – 11am, Saturday August 23; v Montana – 5am, Monday August 25
As with last season, there are three Aussies playing at Wyoming, and all three are getting game time. Alisha Bass in particular is playing amazingly, whilst Candace Sciberras and Georgia Rowntree are also featuring for the Cowgirls. However, now come the competitive fixtures, and with a match against Big 12 side Kansas first up, it will be interesting to see how much time the three Aussies get. Bass should start, and Sciberras may also start as well. The goalkeepers have been rotated so far, so it is hard to get a read on whether Georgia Rowntree will see much time this weekend.
Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)
This week: v St. Joseph’s – 12:00pm, Saturday 23 August; at Sacramento State – 6am, Monday August 25
One player that will be tipped to start this weekend is left-sided utility Ellie Papalexiou, who has trained as the first choice left midfielder for Pacific so far this season. The first match this week, against St. Joseph’s, should prove to be a very stern test for the Tigers, before moving on to play local foe Sacramento State in what should be a very even matchup.
Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Bridget Sankey)
This week: at Tennessee-Martin – 5am, Monday August 25
Just the one game for the Australian trio at Southeast Missouri State, against Tennessee-Martin. Jenna Collingridge has been a fixture for the Redhawks so far in her time with the team, whilst Maddy Cornell has been seeing solid minutes and heavy involvement in the play in this season’s exhibition matches. Unfortunately, Bridget Sankey wasn’t so lucky during these exhibition matches, but hopefully this changes this week.