2015 Week 4 Preview

Slightly down on the number of games and number of teams playing this weekend, as a few teams take this weekend off and instead play midweek games as they gear up for the conference slate. Still, ten teams will be on show this weekend.

Creighton (Anastasia McCleary)

This week: v Seattle – 6am, Saturday September 12; at Montana – 6am, Monday September 14

Creighton had a three game winning streak snapped last weekend by South Dakota State, but the Bluejays remain in solid form as they head northwest for the Montana Cup in Missoula. First up,  they face Seattle, who have copped a couple of heavy losses to the two big Washington schools (Washington and Washington State), but aside from that have put together three solid wins and will provide a real test for the Bluejays. In their second game, they take on the home side, who have compiled a 3-2-1 record against a solid schedule that has include Aussie-laden Wyoming and Washington State. Montana failed to get a win against either of those sides, though, and Creighton should be able to get at least a draw in this one if they step up to the task at hand. Anastasia McCleary has featured regularly as a starter in her senior year, and expect no different in these two games as the midfielder looks to continue her solid form.

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: v Louisiana Tech – 6am, Saturday September 12; v Middle Tennessee State – 4am, Monday September 14

Murray State have been the absolute epitome of an inconsistent team, alternating between wins and losses so far this season for a 3-2 record coming into this weekend. This weekend, they take on a couple of teams running into some good form, so will have to be at their best to get results. First up, they take on Louisiana Tech. The Lady Techsters won their first two games of the season before dropping a couple of games 1-0 two weeks ago. They quickly brushed those losses off, though, winning 7-1 and 4-1 last weekend against Grambling State and Jess Coates’ Nicholls State respectively. It’s fair to say that many of Louisiana Tech’s opponents this season have been at or slightly above Murray State’s level, so this one could prove tough. Middle Tennessee State have also put together four wins from six games, but it could be argued that their schedule has been a bit easier so far. Still, this game provides a real challenge for the Racers, and with Nyomi Devine and Harriet Withers becoming real integral parts of the side, they (and the rest of the side) will have to truly step up to get results this weekend.

Alabama State (Shelbi Vienna-Hallam)

This week: v Georgia Southern – 8am, Saturday September 12; at Jacksonville State – 4am, Monday September 14

After last week’s trip to Arizona failed to produce any positive results for the Hornets, this week they come up against two teams that will also provide some real challenges. That’s not to say Alabama State aren’t without a chance in these games. Georgia Southern will certainly pose a real obstacle though, as they run into some solid form with two wins on the trot, and 10 goals scored in their last 3 games. Jacksonville State haven’t had quite the success recently that Georgia Southern have had, and were only able to beat Jackson State, a team considered around Alabama State’s level, 1-0. Alabama State don’t seem to have any problems scoring when they get chances thanks to the Lewis twins, Ariela and Aaliyah, so as long as they can create some opportunities, goals won’t be a problem. Defence is where they have to improve, having conceded 3 or more goals in every game so far. The defence is admittedly inexperienced, and Shelbi Vienna-Hallam will have to have big games in each of these contests as she plays the role shielding the back four.

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert)

This week: v Stony Brook – 9am, Saturday September 12; at Boston University – 4am, Monday 14 September

Last week’s whirlwind of a week for Hofstra in which they scored 9 goals across two games, gave up four in one, and had an overtime win after giving up and 89th minute equaliser will hopefully not be repeated this weekend (except maybe the 9 goals in two games part) as they take on lowly Stony Brook and Boston University this weekend. Stony Brook’s only two wins this season have come against Wagner and Marist, two teams that could be considered amongst the lowest in Division I this season. Boston University, on the other hand, haven’t even been able to scrape together a win. Admittedly, they have played the likes of Northwestern, Marquette, Northeastern and Boston College, but they haven’t looked likely in any games so far. If Hofstra play to the best of their ability, these matches should pose no problem, but Boston University could be a banana skin if they don’t show up ready to play. Emily Hulbert was heavily involved for the Pride last week, picking up the College Matildas player of the week, and hopefully she can can continue her good form.

Winthrop (Jai Jackson)

This week: at South Carolina State – 9am, Saturday September 12

Winthrop play just the one game this weekend in a battle of teams looking to shake winning streaks. Winthrop have lost their last two games, whilst South Carolina State are 1-4 after starting the season with a win over Southern that clearly did not point to the future. Winthrop look far more likely to get a win in this one, considering the level of each team’s opponents and the scorelines, but that doesn’t make this one a walk in the park. Jai Jackson has been starting regularly up front, but like the rest of the team, goals have been hard to come by for the young Queenslander and this will have to change for either her or someone else on the Eagles’ squad if they are going to get the win.

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: v Virginia Commonwealth – 9am, Saturday September 12; v Niagara – 3am, Monday September 14

Drexel have made a steady if unspectacular start to the season, winning the games they should have and losing the games they were expected to lose. They’ll be expected to win their first game this weekend to take their record to 5-2, but Niagara may prove a bridge too far. Virginia Commonwealth have only managed to put together a 1-4 record against what has been a tough schedule, but at least one of those losses should have been at least a draw. Niagara have a 2-1-2 record so far, and against the teams’ one common foe, Buffalo, secured a draw whereas Drexel went down 1-0. With that said, whilst this matchup looks to be going in Niagara’s favour, Drexel can’t be ruled out. Emma Heckenberg played 33 minutes last week, a vast improvement on previous weeks, and hopefully she did enough in those minutes to convince the coach that she’s deserving of more.

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Marshall – 9am, Saturday September 12

East Tennessee State come into this match against Marshall looking to bounce back from a 6-1 demolition by the Navy, but it looks to be a tough assignment against a Thundering Herd side that has won 5 on the trot. These sides do have a common opponent this season: Eastern Kentucky, whom Marshall defeated 5-1 and ETSU defeated 4-2, but this probably says more about Eastern Kentucky’s leaky defence which has conceded multiple goals in all bar one game than anything else. Still, nothing is certain in sport, and the Buccaneers, with Isabel Hodgson charging up the flank from her fullback position, will surely come out all guns blazing in an attempt to steal this one off Marshall.

Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Siena Senatore)

This week: v Florida Atlantic, Saturday September 12; v Lynn – 8am, Monday September 14

Southeast Missouri State dropped a couple of close ones last weekend, and things aren’t poised to get any easier in the side’s first game of the weekend against 5-1 Florida Atlantic. The Owls haven’t played the toughest of schedule, but only shipped two goals to Texas A&M, so there is clearly some class amongst this team. The Redhawks have a far better chance of victory against Division II school Lynn, whom they play in their second game of this weekend’s tournament. Siena Senatore has already proven to be one of SEMO’s top defenders, with her presence or absence almost being a barometer for Louisville’s attack in last week’s game. Maddy Cornell has also provided impact off the bench, whilst Jenna Collingridge continues to make her return from injury.

Colorado (Kahlia Hogg, Alex Huynh)

This week: at Denver – 11am, Saturday September 12; v Northwestern – 5am, Monday September 14

Colorado are riding a three game winning streak after last week’s wins over Cincinnati and Iowa State, and they won’t get a much better chance for another win than this match against Denver, who are mathematically in the bottom 10% of all 332 NCAA Division I teams. The Pioneers sit at 5 losses and 1 draw, a park-the-bus effort against Aussie-laden Wyoming. Northwestern will be a far more daunting proposition, but are definitely still an opponent that the Buffaloes can defeat. At this point, the teams appear even with neither having that big name win to their name yet. These teams will both probably be hovering around the tournament bubble come November, so a win here is vital. Alex Huynh and Kahlia Hogg are both becoming integral parts of this Colorado defence, and their performances could go a long way in deciding this game.

Washington State (Tia Gavin)

This week: v Oklahoma State – 12pm, Saturday September 12; v Cal State Fullerton – 5am, Monday September 14

There are 13 teams with perfect records remaining in Division I soccer as of this weekend, and Washington State is one of them. And, if they can get a win against Oklahoma State and Cal State Fullerton knock off Gonzaga, set your alarm for 5am Monday (if you don’t already do so for work) to watch two teams put their perfect records on the line against each other. The winner of this game will really make people sit up and take notice, whilst the loser will probably be seen as a pretender on the outside looking in in terms of going deep in the national tournament. Tia Gavin hasn’t seen much playing time recently, but hopefully that will change going forward as she has shown already that she has the ability to make an impact at this level.

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