We dip our toes into the waters of conference play this week, with Caitlin Cantrill and LSU kicking off their SEC campaign against Vanderbilt on Monday morning. The pundits have this pegged to be a tough season for the Tigers, so they will certainly need to get some good results early on in the piece before they face some of the conference’s heavy hitters such as Florida and South Carolina later in the season.
Gaby Bentley and Old Dominion kick off their Conference USA slate against Western Kentucky on Saturday morning, with both teams rated an outside chance at making a run at the title. A win in this one would be the perfect start, with points against other top teams a must if the Monarchs are to secure a favourable seeding in the conference tournament.
Kristy Helmers, Tenille Harberger and Nicholls State also kick off conference play this week, taking on Lamar in their first game of the week to begin Southland Conference action. Results have been up and down to this point, with a couple of losses to SWAC teams real sticking points for the Colonels so far. Both teams look set to finish in the middle of the pack in the Southland, but with Lamar definitely the more fancied of the two sides. Kristy Helmers picked up a goal and an assist against Jackson State recently, and if she can maintain that good attacking form, an upset win isn’t out of the question.
Maddy Cornell and Southeast Missouri State round out our teams commencing their conference campaigns, taking on Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Martin to commence Ohio Valley Conference play. The senior has already tallied two goals this season, one more than she had managed in her entire college career before 2017, forcing her way into the starting lineup and retaining her spot in the process. Neither the Redhawks nor their two opponents this weekend have had particularly good starts to the season, so no combination of results would be completely surprising, but the team from Cape Girardeau should be able to take at least four points from the two games if they play to their potential.
Despite being forced to bide her time at Oregon State, Olivia Ellis made her debut a couple of weeks ago and has seen reasonable playing time since. Ellis saw 45 minutes of action in Oregon State’s 3-0 loss to BYU, putting in a solid shift at fullback which will hopefully see the former Melbourne City defender rewarded with more minutes in the Beavers’ outing against in-state foe Portland on Saturday morning. It’s been a tough start to the season for the Pilots, but they are a program with a lot of history, and with that comes a lot of pride, meaning that this team will no doubt fight for the full 90 minutes and longer if they have to, so Oregon State will need to ensure there are no slip-ups.
Isabel Hodgson took a knock in East Tennessee State’s 4-1 loss to Radford and was forced to miss the Buccaneers’ game against Virginia Tech last weekend. After coming off the bench to play 73 minutes in a loss to Eastern Kentucky in midweek, the South Australian will no doubt be primed to make her return to the starting lineup against George Mason on Saturday morning. Having lost five of their last six matches, the Buccaneers need to start firing on all cylinders quickly, and this game against a 1-6 George Mason side may just be the confidence booster they need – if they can secure a solid victory, that is.
UCLA remain unbeaten thanks largely to the performances of Teagan Micah, and this weekend they face the always-dangerous Pepperdine in a local derby of sorts, with just 20 miles of Pacific Coast Highway separating the two sides. The Waves are amongst the favourites in a reasonably strong West Coast Conference, and whilst this isn’t the same Waves team that featured the likes of US national team player Lynn Williams, UCLA will still be wary of Pepperdine’s threats. Micah could be in for a slightly busier day than she had against Weber State, where the Queenslander was forced into a grand total of zero saves, but she has proven time and again that she is a top-class goalkeeper at this level and can face whatever challenges are thrown at her.
Whilst Teagan Micah has been class between the sticks, Harriet Withers has been making life hell for goalkeepers throughout the southeastern United States. The Murray State striker leads the nation in both total goals and goals per game, and the leaky defence of Morehead State will certainly need to shape up if they don’t want to be her next victim. The Eagles have given up 10 goals in their six games to this point, and with just one win to their name, Murray State will have their eye on moving to six straight wins to start the season. Things get tougher in the Racers’ second game of the week against Saint Louis, though. The Billikens are undefeated at 6-0-1 to start the season, and have scored 21 goals in comparison to the 3 that they have conceded. Both Withers and fellow Australian, defender Nyomi Devine, will need to be at their absolute best, as will the remainder of the Murray State side, if they are to take two wins this week.
With Monique Iannella showing her class in a fullback role and Emily Hulbert continuing her emergence as a true box-to-box threat, the Australians at Hofstra are certainly showing their worth out on Long Island. This week, they travel without even leaving that very landmass as they head to Stony Brook, less than 45 minutes’ drive away. It’s been a tough start to proceedings for the Seawolves, who have compiled a 2-5 record to this point, and whilst some of those losses were against much larger programs, they don’t cover up the losses to some of the smaller teams they have faced to this point. Hofstra, on the other hand, sit at .500 with a 3-3-2 record so far, with one of those losses coming to Penn State, and the two others being games that the Pride should probably have sneaked a point in. A complete-game effort from the Pride should see the Hofstra side take bragging rights on Long Island back to Hempstead, with Hulbert and Iannella certain to play large parts in any success the team may have in this contest.
Albany (Claire Urquhart)
This week: at Rhode Island – 9am, Friday September 15; at Missouri – 10am, Monday September 18
Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)
This week: v Vermont – 9am, Saturday September 16; at Brown – 5am, Monday September 18
Colorado (Isobel Dalton)
This week: at Denver – 11am, Sunday September 17
Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)
This week: v Penn – 9am, Friday September 15; v Villanova – 3am, Monday September 18
East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)
This week: v George Mason – 9am, Saturday September 16
Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)
This week: at Gonzaga – 12pm, Saturday September 16; at Eastern Washington – 6am, Monday September 18
Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)
This week: v Stetson – 9am, Friday September 15; v Hawaii – 9am, Monday September 18
Hawaii (Kiri Dale)
This week: at Arizona State – 12pm, Saturday September 16; at Grand Canyon – 9am, Monday September 18
Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)
This week: at Stony Brook – 9am, Friday September 15
La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)
This week: v Delaware – 9am, Saturday September 16; v West Virginia – 3am, Monday September 18
LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)
This week: v Cincinnati – 9am, Friday September 15; v Vanderbilt – 7am, Monday September 18
Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)
This week: at Morehead State – 9am, Friday September 15; v St Louis – 5am, Monday September 18
Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)
This week: at Lamar – 10am, Saturday September 16; at Southern – 4am, Monday September 18
Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)
This week: v Western Kentucky – 9am, Saturday September 16; v Richmond – 8am, Monday September 18
Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)
This week: at Portland – 12pm, Saturday September 16
Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)
This week: at UC Santa Barbara – 10:30am, Saturday September 16; at Cal Poly – 5am, Monday September 18
St. Francis (Shelby Milton)
This week: at UMBC – 9am, Friday September 15; v Radford – 4am, Monday September 18
Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)
This week: v Tennessee Tech – 9:30am, Saturday September 16; at Tennessee-Martin – 5am, Monday September 18
Stanford (Beattie Goad)
This week: at Santa Clara – 12pm, Monday September 18
Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)
This week: v LSU-Alexandria – 6am, Monday September 18
Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)
This week: v San Diego State – 10am, Saturday September 16; v Cal State Northridge – 4am, Monday September 18
UCLA (Teagan Micah)
This week: v Pepperdine – 12pm, Saturday September 16
Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)
This week: at Campbell – 9am, Saturday September 16; at North Carolina State – 3am, Monday September 18
William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)
This week: v UNC Greensboro – 4am, Monday September 18
Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)
This week: v Idaho State – 8am, Friday September 15