We’re a little light on in matches this week as the majority of teams play just the one match this weekend. Being the last weekend before conference play begins for most teams, this is really the time that teams want to be hitting their straps as conference play is what will get you into the postseason for the majority of teams.
East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)
This week: at Campbell – 7am, Saturday September 19
East Tennessee State bounced back from two consecutive losses with a midweek win over Winthrop, to move to 5-3 for the season. This weekend they take on Campbell in their final game before the start of conference play. Campbell have also compiled a solid record, currently sitting at 4-3, including a dramatic 4-3 overtime win against Claire Urquhart’s Albany side. Expect this one to be a tight game as both teams look to finish the non-conference schedule on a high. Isabel Hodgson has been seeing playing time both up front and in defence and has done a stellar job in both roles – it remains to be seen where she will be used most in this game, and it will probably rest on the coach’s choice of substitutions throughout the game as to where we see Isabel play.
Winthrop (Jai Jackson)
This week: v The Citadel – 8am, Saturday September 19
Winthrop had a midweek loss to East Tennessee State after a frantic final five minutes in which the Eagles equalised at 1-1 before giving up the winner to the Buccaneers just a minute later. This week, they come up against a Citadel side that has managed just one win this season so far. However, that one win was a 4-0 demolition of a Francis Marion side that Winthrop could only defeat 2-1. Looking solely at that, Citadel might look a better than even money chance. But in their first six games, they gave up less than four goals only once, and even that was a 3-2 loss. It’s much more likely this result will be representative of that last stat rather than the Francis Marion results. Winthrop should put Citadel away comprehensively in this one. Jai Jackson dropped back deeper in midfield than had been seen in some earlier games against East Tennessee State, and was able to control play quite well for periods, so it will be interesting to see if that occurs again in this game.
Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Georgia Rowntree, Candace Sciberras)
This week: v Idaho State – 8am, Saturday September 19
Wyoming fell to their first loss of the season last week as they went down 3-1 to Northern Colorado, but have still compiled a solid 3-1-3 record throughout their first seven games of the year. Certainly, it is much better than this weekend’s opponent Idaho State’s record. The Bengals stand at 1-6-1, with their sole win being an overtime victory against Division II team Westminster College. It’s true that Idaho State have played some tough opponents, but have been soundly beaten by all bar Boise State. A Wyoming team at their best should have no trouble winning this one, and the four available Aussies, who have been starting most games, will be integral to the Cowgirls’ success in this one.
Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Siena Senatore)
This week: v Arkansas State – 9:30am, Saturday September 19; at Union – 7am, Monday September 21
For the second week in a row, Southeast Missouri State take on a Division I before finishing off the weekend against a Division II team. Hopefully this weekend produces an additional win to last week. Arkansas State don’t pose the same threat that Florida Atlantic did last week, but the Redhawks will still have to be at their best to win this one as it still appears tight on paper. Union, on the other hand, should offer little resistance as they have an 0-4 record in Division II this season. With the three Aussies seeing cameos at the moment, hopefully these games will go to plan and the two younger players can be given the time to show what they can do, whilst senior Jenna Collingridge can be given additional minutes after her comeback from injury.
Creighton (Anastasia McCleary)
This week: v Northern Colorado – 10am, Saturday September 19; v Colorado State – Monday September 21
Creighton host two Colorado teams this week as they attempt to improve on what is already a solid 5-3 mark, but it won’t be easy. Northern Colorado have already sprung an upset or two, including a 3-1 win last week over Wyoming, whilst Colorado State have nicked a draw against Colorado, and also defeated Northern Colorado. Therefore, the Northern Colorado result could be a barometer for the Colorado State game for the Bluejays. To drop to a 5-5 mark going into conference play would be really disappointing for Creighton, so getting at least one result is paramount. It will be interesting to see how much playing time Anastasia McCleary gets this week. The senior midfielder has been ranging from starting and playing 90 minutes to playing half an hour off the bench; hopefully it’s the former rather than the latter in these games.
Albany (Claire Urquhart)
This week: at Seton Hall – 3am, Monday September 21
Albany are playing .500 soccer at the moment, with 4 wins and 4 losses, but that’s still a long way ahead of this week’s opponents Seton Hall, who are yet to register a win in 8 attempts this season. You’d be hard-pressed to find Albany games against Big East teams in which they’re favourites, but they definitely are in this one. Seton Hall have at least tightened up their defence in the last couple of games, so the Albany attack will have to be firing. Claire Urquhart has been in and out of the side recently, but has done a solid job for the team when given the chance and a game like this may give her another opportunity to show what she can do.
Massachusetts (Laura Johns)
This week: at Harvard – 3am, Monday September 21
Massachusetts grabbed their second win on the trot with a victory over Brown in midweek, and they’ll be looking to defeat another Ivy League school as they come up against Harvard in a matchup of what appear to be two evenly matched sides. Massachusetts have come into some form recently, winning two and drawing one of their last four games to sit at 2-3-2 after starting 0-2-1. Meanwhile, Harvard sit at 2-4-1, but have played three nationally ranked teams in that time, so three of those losses have been more than expected. It’s been encouraging to see Laura Johns getting more and more minutes as the season has rolled on, and we can expect this continue after her solid performances recently.
Hofstra (Emily Hulbert)
This week: v Fordham – 4am, Monday September 21
Hofstra continue to be one of the better sides in the country, and this week come up against a Fordham side with a 5-2 record, but it’s a record that has been compiled against some of the weaker teams in the country to the point where they still sit well outside the RPI Top 100. Still, they can only beat who they’ve come up against, and have done so, so Hofstra will have to be on their game to win this one. Emily Hulbert’s minutes have been limited in the last couple of weeks, but hopefully that’s more of a rotational thing than anything else and she comes back to play her usual minutes this week.
Colorado (Kahlia Hogg, Alex Huynh)
This week: v Villanova – 4am, Monday September 21
Colorado had a heartbreaking loss to Northwestern last week in a weekend that really didn’t see the Buffaloes showcase their best. They get their chance to get back in the groove against a winless Villanova side. The Wildcats have little to no excuse for their terrible record as they haven’t played a terribly hard schedule, and have lost to a few teams that aren’t on Colorado’s level. Colorado have no better chance to get back into form here, and really need to in a game that they have to win, as a loss here would really damage the team’s RPI. Look to Alex Huynh to be a rock at the back, whilst Kahlia Hogg has been out for the last couple of weeks and hopefully she will make her comeback this week.
Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)
This week: at IUPUI – 4am, Monday September 21
Murray State are running into some good form right now, winning their last two matches and keeping clean sheets in the process, and they have a good chance to continue that winning streak against an inconsistent IUPUI side that currently holds a 2-4-1 record. Murray State have started the season incredibly well to sit comfortably in the RPI Top 100 heading into the final weekend before non-conference play and are easily the top side from the Ohio Valley Conference as things stand. A solid result here will really put the entire conference on notice, and Harriet Withers and Nyomi Devine will be two of the players that the Racers will turn to for leadership in this one.
Alabama State (Shelbi Vienna-Hallam)
This week: at Austin Peay – 5am, Monday September 21
It was a tough old weekend for Alabama State last week, giving up 17 goals across two games in a couple of heavy losses. This week may not be on that level again, but it will be a tough challenge against Austin Peay. Until last week, Austin Peay had shown little but then they went and demolished Western Illinois 7-1 to make things look a little better for them. This will be the last non-conference game for Alabama State this season, and regardless of the result they’ll be looking to at least put together a solid performance. Shelbi Vienna-Hallam has done her best to marshal an inexperienced defence and her play will be vital for the Hornets in this one.
Washington State (Tia Gavin)
This week: at Portland – 6am, Monday September 21
Washington State are the only perfect team in the nation, and this weekend they travel to Portland to play the Pilots in front of the best fans in college soccer. Ordinarily, a trip to Portland would be one of the most feared in college women’s soccer, but strangely this has been a very lean start to the year for the Pilots. They are 2-6-0 so far, including a 5-0 demolition at the hands of Michigan. Still, being Portland they have played a very tough schedule and are still in the RPI Top 100, so it’s not as easy as it looks at first glance. The Cougars cruised in a 3-0 win over Gonzaga and will want another game like that rather than the heartstoppers they’ve had in recent weeks. Tia Gavin had a minor injury last week but has bounced back and caused some real problems for defences in her cameos since then; hopefully a more prolonged stint on the field isn’t too far away!