We’re just about hitting the home straight now, with this week signalling the halfway point for most teams’ conference schedules. With automatic bids being the only way most of our Aussies are going to see national tournament play this year, these next few games are quickly becoming vital.
UMBC (Lilly Rydon)
This week: at New Hampshire – 10am, Friday October 10; v Maine – 4am, Monday October 13
The expected dominance of UMBC in America East this season failed to materialise in the side’s first two games of the season, but they have more than a chance to get things back on track this weekend against New Hampshire and Maine. New Hampshire will not be an easy side to take care of, however, as they defeated the same Vermont side that beat UMBC last week, whilst Maine have been the Juventus of New England, with all three of their wins coming in 1-0 matches. Maine have made a habit of keeping score lines low in most of their games, meaning Lilly Rydon will have the task of breaking down the Black Bears’ defence and also preventing counter attacks from starting out of the Maine back line.
Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)
This week: v Morehead State – 7am, Saturday October 11; v Eastern Kentucky – 5am, Monday October 13
After going down 2-1 twice last week, including to fellow Aussie-laden side Southeast Missouri State, Murray State come up against conference leaders Morehead State before facing off against Eastern Kentucky in a pair of in-state conference battles. Morehead State have been in cracking form so far this year, racking up 8 wins and 4 draws in their 14 games. In Murray State’s favour is the disparity in Morehead State’s records at home and on the road – they are 6-0-0 at home, and 2-2-4 away. Eastern Kentucky appear on paper to be a less daunting proposition, but Murray State will still need to be wary of a side that has managed to get their shooting boots on recently after a dismal four game scoreless streak. Nyomi Devine and Harriet Withers have been alternating between the bench and starting recently, but expect both players to see game time in both games this week.
Colorado (Kahlia Hogg, Alexandra Huynh)
This week: at Oregon State – 8am, Saturday October 11; at Oregon – 7am, Monday October 13
Deep in the fight for an at-large bid, Colorado did their chances no harm with their win over USC last week, and this week they take on Oregon State and Oregon in a couple of games that could really set the Buffaloes up for the rest of the year. First up, Oregon State, who are surprisingly poor for a Pac-12 side this season, ranked sub-200 in RPI. Therefore, this match is one that Colorado really need to make sure they win as failing to pick up the result in this one could be a real resume-killer, as it would be Oregon State’s FIRST win of the season. On the flip side, Colorado’s game against Oregon can be one that sets them apart from their rivals for an at-large bid; Oregon are probably just out of the running for an at-large bid of their own, but sitting in a solid enough position that a win against them is valuable. The Buffaloes would have to fancy themselves in this one; Oregon are sitting half a game ahead of Colorado in the Pac-12 standings, but Colorado have played California, USC, and UCLA, whilst Oregon have played some of the less fancied sides in the league. Alexandra Huynh is still out through injury, but Kahlia Hogg will almost certainly take up her starting spot in the front line as usual.
Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Georgia Rowntree, Candace Sciberras)
This week: v Colorado College – 8am, Saturday October 11; v Air Force – 6am, Monday October 13
Wyoming welcome two teams from across the state line to Laramie this week as the teams immediately behind them in the Mountain West standings try to get the jump on the Cowgirls. First up are conference newcomers Colorado College, who have gone 2-1-1 in their first 4 league games. There is little to pick between these two teams – Colorado College may be the favourites on a neutral field, but with Wyoming at home, this really looks like a toss-up. Air Force are also 2-1-1 in league play, but this represents more of a turnaround in form than a continuation; their record outside league play is 3-4-0. This weekend should see Wyoming pick up at least one win, and two would not be out of the question, especially if the likes of Alisha Bass and Candace Sciberras continue the attacking prowess they conjured up last week.
Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Bridget Sankey)
This week: v Austin Peay – 10:30am, Saturday October 11; at Belmont – 6am, Monday October 13
Fresh off their victory in the Aussie derby against Murray State, Southeast Missouri State look to improve on their current league standing in two very winnable matches this week. First up are Austin Peay, who sit down in 304th position (of 332) in the Division I RPI with just two wins. Southeast Missouri State, on the other hand, have two wins in conference play already, and five for the season. Austin Peay haven’t had trouble scoring lately, with goals in each of their last 4 games, but in three of those, they’ve conceded even more, and Southeast Missouri State should be able to register a win in this one. Belmont, however, will be a tougher test. With these two sides considered approximately equal, this match could be a large factor in deciding which of these teams finishes higher in the Ohio Valley standings. Belmont have somehow put together a 4-3-4 record, with the side seemingly oblivious to the idea of overtime goals. Southeast Missouri State’s cause may be aided by the fact that Belmont play league leaders SIU Edwardsville two days prior to this fixture. Jenna Collingridge set up a goal last week for Southeast Missouri State, and hopefully she can continue her recent good form, whilst Maddy Cornell continues to provide solid support off the bench for the Redhawks.
Alabama State (Shelbi Vienna-Hallam)
This week: v Arkansas-Pine Bluff – 11am, Saturday October 11; v Grambling State – 5am, Monday October 13
It hasn’t been the start Alabama State were hoping for, but they have their best chance yet to get things back on track as they take on Arkansas-Pine Bluff in their first match of the weekend before facing winless Grambling State on Monday morning. Arkansas Pine-Bluff have been called one of the poorest Div I college sides in recent years, with their sole win this season being against a small college side, whilst Grambling State remain winless, but they haven’t played a small college side. Alabama State definitely have the class in their ranks to put together a winning run, and should easily be able to account for UAPB and Grambling State, especially since Shelbi Vienna-Hallam’s move up front which has seen her combine superbly with record breaking striker Aaliyah Lewis in recent games. However, this move comes at a price, with the Hornets defence having suffered slightly in recent weeks. Still, Alabama State know they need the win and this hunger should see them make sure they take care of both of these games.
Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)
This week: v Loyola Marymount – 1pm, Saturday October 11; v Pepperdine – 7am, Monday October 13
Pacific have struggled slightly since returning to the West Coast Conference from the Big West, and things aren’t poised to get any easier this week. Whilst the game against Loyola Marymount might give the Tigers a chance at victory, the second game of the weekend, against nationally ranked Pepperdine, will be possibly Pacific’s toughest game of the season. Much better teams than Pacific have come and gone without a result against Pepperdine, who are 11-1-1 this season. If Pacific can somehow put together a performance like their first half against USC, where they kept the top 15 Trojans scoreless for a half, then they might be able to somehow pull a result out of this weekend.
Creighton (Anastasia McCleary)
This week: at DePaul – 7am, Sunday October 12
Just the one game this week for Creighton, but it’s the toughest one they’ll play all year in the regular season, taking on the still undefeated DePaul side away. DePaul are favourites for the Big East title alongside the Georgetown team they drew with earlier in the season, and whilst Creighton have 9 wins of their own this season, DePaul have faced a much tougher schedule. Expect this to be a high scoring match, with both teams able to score goals fairly freely, although DePaul’s defence has also been strong and may have a bit to say about that.
Hofstra (Emily Hulbert)
This week: v Northeastern – 7:30am, Sunday October 12
Hofstra’s start to the conference season hasn’t been the smooth ride that many were expecting, however they still sit in fifth position in the Colonial Athletic Association standings. Next up, a home game against Northeastern, who currently sit atop the conference with a 3-0-0 record in league play. Northeastern, however, have faced the two lowest teams in the league in their first three games, so this standing may be a bit misleading. Hofstra would still have to be considered slight favourites, especially at home, and a win would really shake things up in the Colonial league. Emily Hulbert has been solid in defence all season for Hofstra, and may well turn out to be one of the finds of the year. Expect her to once again start in defence and play the majority of minutes.
Nicholls State (Jess Coates)
This week: v Central Arkansas – 4am, Monday October 13
This week for Jess Coates and Nicholls State was meant to start with an Aussie v Aussie matchup against Simone Arthur’s Southern side, however two things conspired against that. First, Simone was ruled out for the season. Then the game was cancelled anyway. No reason has been given for the cancellation. Therefore, the Colonels’ only game of the week comes against conference foes Central Arkansas. Nicholls State need a win in this game to keep pace with the conference leaders, but Central Arkansas will be just as hungry for the win to get back in the hunt for a high seed in the conference tournament, something that would become almost impossible if they lost this game. Nicholls State’s goalscoring prowess has been well documented, but even they haven’t put ten goals past a side, which Central Arkansas did against Mississippi Valley State. Nonetheless, this will most probably prove to be a tight fixture that Nicholls State just manages to edge.