This week may prove to be one of the toughest weeks for the Aussies this season, with plenty of very difficult games on the schedule over the next few days. That said, there’s no reason to be despondent and we may yet see more than a few wins.
Alabama State (Shelbi Vienna-Hallam)
This week: at Georgia Southern – 4:30am, Saturday September 13; v Jacksonville State – 4am, Monday September 15
Alabama State have been one of the SWAC’s few shining lights, managing to navigate their way through a tough schedule with a 3-3-0 record so far, and things don’t get any easier this weekend against Georgia Southern and Jacksonville State. Georgia Southern currently possess a 4-1 record, including a 2-1 win over Indiana, whilst Jacksonville State have already mauled SWAC sides Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State 15-0 (yes, that’s FIFTEEN-NIL) and 7-1 respectively. But those sides don’t have a player named Shelbi Vienna-Hallam in their side, and if the Tasmanian junior, along with the rest of the defence, can keep up their form, the Hornets can at least keep the scoreline respectable, if not grab a highly unlikely result out of one of these games.
Hofstra (Emily Hulbert)
This week: v Duke (at Virginia) – 5am, Saturday September 13; at Virginia – 4:30am, Monday September 15
After smashing up Indiana State 9-1 last week, Hofstra have volunteered as tribute this week, taking on national powerhouses Duke and Virginia in Virginia’s invitational tournament. Virginia, led by US national team midfielder (and lock for #1 pick in the NWSL draft next year) Morgan Brian, have conceded just two goals so far this season in five games, all of which they have won. Duke, on the other hand, have slipped a bit, going 3-3-0 so far, but have lost to the likes of Stanford, Penn State, and Ohio State, all tough matchups. If anything, these matches will prove to be invaluable experience for the Hofstra players. Emily Hulbert has come off the bench in all games so far, and things seem unlikely to change this weekend.
Nicholls State (Jess Coates)
This week: at Alcorn State – 6am, Saturday September 13
Whilst Nicholls State, and Jess Coates in particular, off to a solid start this season, this game should prove to end in a win for the Colonels. Alcorn State are one of the weaker squads in the SWAC, which is one of the weaker conferences in Div I women’s soccer, and in fact have played just the one game so far this season, losing 1-0 to Southeastern Louisiana. Expect the Nicholls State attack to pick apart the Alcorn State defence in this one – their forward line is highly balanced and potent this season.
UMBC (Lilly Rydon)
This week: v Mount St. Mary’s (at Loyola Maryland) – 7am, Saturday September 13; at Towson, 4:30am, Monday September 15
After an unexpected loss to St. Joseph’s last week, UMBC take on a couple of local rivals in the ‘Battle Of Baltimore’. First up are Mount St. Mary’s, and whilst the Mountaineers weren’t expected to be a strong side this year, their 0-7-0 start to the season has definitely raised eyebrows, and UMBC will be fully expected to waltz away with the win. Towson should prove to be a sterner test, having picked up two wins this year in six games, but this will also be UMBC’s game for the taking. Lilly Rydon has been starting up front for UMBC all season, and if there are as many goals as there should be, expect her to get ticks in the goals or assists column, if not both.
Creighton (Anastasia McCleary)
This week: at North Dakota – 7am, Saturday September 13; at South Dakota – 3am, Monday September 15
Creighton make the trip north to the Dakotas for a pair of games this week looking to keep their perfect record intact. The first match, against North Dakota, sees the Bluejays face a side with just one win, against lowly Chicago State, in six games. Expect this to be a game that Creighton put away well if they play as well as everyone knows they can. South Dakota are a far more intriguing proposition. With four wins from six games, they appear on the face of it to have a very strong record. However, these wins have all been against far lesser teams than themselves, meaning their form is a bit tough to judge. Once again, it will take a top shelf performance, but expect Creighton to head back to Omaha with their winning streak extended by 2. Anastasia McCleary will most probably come off the bench again for Creighton, a role in which she has performed admirably so far this season.
Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Georgia Rowntree, Candace Sciberras)
This week: at South Dakota – 8am, Saturday September 13; at Morehead State – 5am, Monday September 15
It’s been a tough start to the season for Wyoming, with just one win in five games, but there are promising signs for the Cowgirls. The next step is turning this promise into wins, and there’s no better time to start than this weekend. South Dakota’s ability to beat up on lesser opponents has already been addressed in Creighton’s preview, but Wyoming are not a lesser team, and this could prove to be South Dakota’s undoing in this one, and there may even be a goal or two in this one for Alisha Bass or Candace Sciberras. Following this comes a trip to Kentucky to play Morehead State, a side with just one loss this season, but also two ties. This one looks to be very tight on paper, with Morehead State probably just the favourites.
Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)
This week: at USC – 8am, Saturday September 13
Pacific are very much up against it this week against PAC-12 side USC, who are yet to lose a game this season, including a win against Notre Dame. Pacific, on the other hand, are 2-4-0 against a much less testing schedule. Matches like this can prove to be valuable experience for young players, and you can include Aussie freshman Ellie Papalexiou in this category. Of course, nothing is certain in the world of soccer, and you never know just when a side might sneak a tie, but this would be counted amongst the unlikeliest of results for the Tigers this week.
Colorado (Kahlia Hogg, Alexandra Huynh)
This week: v Denver – 8:30am, Saturday September 13
Colorado host in-state rivals Denver this weekend in the Colorado Cup, eager to make the most of the home game. Denver and Colorado have shared many opponents this season, and the results are almost identical, with many ending the same result, but Colorado generally possessing the more satisfactory margin. This will almost certainly be one of the tighter games of the weekend, but Colorado will have to be slight favourites. Expect to see Alexandra Huynh and Kahlia Hogg heavily involved as both players have cemented their roles in the Colorado side.
Southern (Simone Arthur)
This week: at McNeese State – 10am, Saturday September 13; at Stephen F. Austin – 4am, Monday September 15
Despite a couple of losses last week, the Southern side will be buoyed by the fact that they held Louisiana Tech to 2 goals and almost came away with a tie in the 2-1 loss. This week, a McNeese State side that has had just one win this season will host the Jaguars in a matchup of sides desperate for a win. This game is certainly Southern’s best chance of a win this weekend, with Stephen F. Austin, their second opponent, proving to be an absolute nuisance for some very highly rated teams. They have made teams such as Arkansas and Texas A&M fight hard for wins, and it is only their choice to play such a difficult schedule that sees them 2-2-1 instead of 5-0-0 at this point. Simone Arthur made her return for the side at right back last week, and will be expected to be in the side again this week, but which position she will be in remains a mystery.
Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)
This week: at Middle Tennessee – 10am, Saturday September 13; at Saint Louis – 4am, Monday September 15
Nyomi Devine and Harriet Withers have quickly become integral parts of the Murray State squad, and with two tough games this weekend, they’ll be looking to help the side to two wins. On paper, Middle Tennessee are the easier of the two opponents, eking out a 2-2-1 record against some tricky opponents, probably making the Blue Raiders slight favourites. Saint Louis, on the other hand, are clear favourites against the Racers on Monday morning, having already put together some solid wins and held some power conference teams to close games, even if they haven’t been able to get the results.
Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Bridget Sankey)
This week: v Illinois State – 9:30am, Sunday September 14; at Evansville – 9am, Thursday September 18
If you look at the results alone, you’d call Southeast Missouri State’s first game of the weekend against Illinois State a 50/50 proposition. But Illinois State have almost led themselves to the slaughter, playing, and losing to, three power conference teams in their last three games. Despite these losses, Illinois State’s performances in these games makes them favourites, as long as the results haven’t affected their confidence. The second game, against Evansville, looks to be a lot more even and will be one the Redhawks will really want to win as they look to build momentum leading into the conference season.