We are now in the penultimate week of play before the national tournament, and now is the time for teams to lock in their places. Southeast Missouri State and East Tennessee State kick off conference tournament play this week, needing to become conference champions to play in the national tournament. Elsewhere, Wyoming and Massachusetts both need a result just to ensure their spot in their respective conference tournaments.
Creighton (Anastasia McCleary)
This week: at Georgetown – 6:00am, Saturday October 31
Anastasia McCleary will close out her senior season in the nation’s capital as Creighton travel to Georgetown for their final game of the season. Whilst the Bluejays are out of conference tournament contention, they can certainly play spoiler for Georgetown, who could drop from 3rd position down to 6th with a loss, which would make things a lot harder for them. Creighton will certainly be afforded the freedom to play, and maybe this could give them the opportunity to spring a surprise. With this being Anastasia’s final game, we can expect to see her get plenty of minutes in this one.
Alabama State (Shelbi Vienna-Hallam)
This week: at Alabama A&M – 7:00am, Saturday October 31
Alabama State had a successful senior day last week, and now they go hunting for a top 3 seed in the SWAC tournament as they travel to in-state foes Alabama A&M for their final league game of the season. However, with the teams above them hot favourites to win their games, jumping into a top 3 spot may prove difficult. A draw will secure fourth position, whilst a win could see them snag an unlikely second spot. Alabama A&M sit in eighth position in the conference, with just three wins all season, meaning Alabama State will be expected to win this game, even on the road. After being utilised up front last week and returning to her successful combination with Aaliyah and Ariela Lewis, hopefully Shelbi Vienna-Hallam will continue in an advanced role this week. That said, the Tasmanian senior has performed admirably in her deep-lying role, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her back there again as the Hornets look to go into the conference tournament on a high.
Colorado (Kahlia Hogg, Alex Huynh)
This week: v Arizona – 8:00am, Satuday October 31; v Arizona State – 8:00am, Monday November 2
It’s been an underwhelming conference season for Colorado this year, with just one win to show for their eight games. They still have three games left to play though, and whilst the postseason is a bridge too far this year, they can still put together a respectable league record with some good results in their remaining games. The Arizona schools will be a tough test, though. Arizona will definitely be the tougher of the two, as they sit in fourth place in the Pac-12, but Arizona State won’t be easy either as they have managed to tally three wins in league play so far. Kahlia Hogg will not be seen for the rest of this season (and may in fact be back next year), whilst Alex Huynh will once again be in the middle of the Colorado defence as they attempt to stem the flow after conceding multiple goals in their last four games.
Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Georgia Rowntree, Candace Sciberras)
This week: at Colorado State – 8:00am, Saturday October 31
In a good spot but not yet guaranteed a conference tournament spot, Wyoming have extra incentive to win this one, not that they’ll need it as they take on rivals Colorado State in a match known as the Border War due to the two schools’ proximity to the Colorado-Wyoming border. Colorado State are well and truly out of the running for the postseason with no wins at all in league play, and only one draw to show for their ten games so far. Wyoming, on the other hand, can not rise above their current fourth place, but could tumble out of the tournament spots with a loss. Even away to Colorado State, there is no reason to think Wyoming won’t waltz away with this one. Expect to see Alisha Bass and possibly Annika Clayton start in this one, whilst there may be playing time off the bench for Jessie Gentle and Georgia Rowntree.
Washington State (Tia Gavin)
This week: at Oregon – 10:00am, Saturday October 31; at Oregon State – 6:00am, Monday November 2
Washington State have enjoyed a good season so far, with an 11-5 record, but at sixth place in the Pac-12 they need a couple of wins this weekend if they are to improve their chances of a favourable draw in the national tournament. With the Pac-12 not running a conference tournament, league play is the Cougars’ only chance to improve their standing. Oregon and Oregon State sit 12th and 9th in the league respectively, so Washington State won’t get many better chances to get that winning percentage up and maybe jump up a couple of places in the national RPI rankings. Tia Gavin has been afforded opportunities in the last ten or so minutes of each half in recent games, with her status as an impact player well and truly established for this season. So if there’s a Washington State goal in the last few minutes of either half, you can bet Tia will be somewhere around it.
East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)
This week: at Mercer – 10:30am, Sunday November 1 (Southern Conference Tournament 1st Round)
East Tennessee State already knew they were playing Mercer in the first round of the conference tournament, but results last week meant that they would be travelling to Georgia rather than Mercer coming to them. As the 4th and 5th seeds for the tournament, these sides are obviously closely matched, and in fact these sides have already drawn one game this year, as their regular season game, which was a home fixture for the Buccaneers, ended 1-1. There’ll be no draw this time around though as the conference tournament is straight knockout. This one really is slated to be tight, with Mercer possibly being slight favourites. Look for Isabel Hodgson to resume her regular role of 90 minutes at right back as she gets up and down the flank and making her mark at both ends of the pitch.
Massachusetts (Laura Johns)
This week: v Dayton – 5:00am, Monday November 2
A midweek loss to St. Joseph’s means that this match against Dayton is now a must-win if Massachusetts are to reach the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. Unfortunately, Dayton are currently sitting in second place in the league. But this game is in Amherst, where Massachusetts have won 6 of 8 games. Also, Dayton have won just three of nine away from their own home patch. So it’s going to be a tough one, but the Minutewomen have some things in their favour and plenty to play for, so this one could be a cracker of a game. Laura Johns has been a solid rotation player for Massachusetts all season, and there seems little reason to believe anything will change now, so expect the South Australian to play around half a game up front.
Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Siena Senatore)
This week: at Jacksonville State – 5:00am, Monday November 2 (Ohio Valley Conference Tournament 1st Round)
The Redhawks needed a draw in midweek against Tennessee-Martin to get into the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, and that is exactly what they got. With Siena Senatore still out injured, the side still managed to get a 0-0 result which sees them move on to the conference tournament as the 6th seed and take on 3rd seed Jacksonville State in the quarter-finals. Jacksonville State finished just two points ahead of the Redhawks in the league, but it was Southeast Missouri State who won the regular season fixture 1-0. That game was in Cape Girardeau though. This time, it’ll be on Jacksonville State’s home patch, so that may make things slightly more difficult for SEMO. Maddy Cornell should probably start up front again, whilst Jenna Collingridge may make an appearance off the bench. Unfortunately, it appears unlikely that Siena Senatore will play.