2017 NCAA Tournament Preview

Seven teams featuring nine Aussies will form part of the 64-team NCAA Tournament. Two teams – Stanford and UCLA – are among the teams expected to make deep runs in the tournament, whilst others are looking to write a Cinderella story.

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Stanford (Beattie Goad)

First Round: v Utah Valley – 2pm, Sunday November 12

As was the case in 2016, Stanford come into the NCAA Tournament as the #1 overall seed, but with a better team and a stronger chance to go all the way than was the case last year, when the Cardinal fell in the Round of 32 to Santa Clara following an injury to Andi Sullivan. The Cardinal start their NCAA Tournament campaign at home to Utah Valley, a team that was only able to put together a 10-11-1 record for the regular season, but managed to win their way through the Western Athletic Conference tournament to secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. A win in the opener will see Stanford host either Aussie-laden Hofstra or Auburn in the Round of 32, whilst their main challengers for a spot in the College Cup in Orlando come December shape to be Penn State and last year’s national runner-up West Virginia. Minutes have been hard to come by for Beattie Goad in recent weeks, but if Stanford can comfortably handle Utah Valley, then a spell on the field late in the game may just come the sophomore’s way.

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

First Round: v Denver – 6am, Monday November 13

Colorado just scraped into the tournament with what must have been one of the last at-large bids handed out. A bubble team in every sense of the word, Isobel Dalton and the Buffaloes have been given a fairly favourable draw as geographical considerations see them take on Denver, one of the lowest RPI sides in the entire tournament at 225th. A win for Colorado would see them most probably face #1 seed North Carolina in a rematch of an NCAA Tournament game from 2014 that saw the much more fancied North Carolina side just scrape home with a 1-0 win in overtime after a fantastic rearguard performance from a Colorado defence featuring Australian Alex Huynh.

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

First Round: at Auburn – 10am, Saturday November 11

A bubble team coming into the conference tournament final against Northeastern, Hofstra removed all doubt with a 2-1 win which secured an automatic bid and delivered a trip to Alabama to play Auburn. The choice of who hosts this game may raise eyebrows, with Hofstra sitting at #22 in the RPI and Auburn at #27, but the Pride can only play the game on the rectangle of grass at which it has been scheduled. It will no doubt be an incredibly hard-fought battle between what appear to be evenly matched teams, and a win for Hofstra would almost certainly see the CAA champions take on #1 overall seed Stanford in the second round.

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

First Round: at Rutgers – 9am, Sunday November 12

A dominant force throughout the Atlantic 10 regular season, things became decidedly harder for the Explorers as they required overtime in both their semi-final and final victories on their way to securing their spot in the NCAA Tournament. Now, they face a short but tough away trip to New Jersey to face nationally ranked Rutgers, a side that has given up just five goals in 19 games to this point. La Salle may have banged home 47 goals this season, but that Rutgers defence, and particularly goalkeeper Casey Murphy, will be incredibly hard to breach. If the Explorers are able to sneak a win over Rutgers, their likely second round opponent would be last year’s national runner-up West Virginia, who, despite losing Ashley Lawrence and Kadeisha Buchanan from last year’s side, remain a force at this level.

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

First Round: @ Tennessee – 9am, Sunday November 12

Murray State come into this contest with an almost identical RPI to Tennessee, in yet another game that will attempt to answer the question as to the gap between solid power conference teams and dominant mid-majors. Tennessee finished in a tie for fourth in the always-strong SEC with a 14-4-1 record, whilst Murray State were simply dominant in the Ohio Valley Conference, going 8-0-2 in the regular season before clinching the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the conference championship. The Racers have a real shot in this one, but they will need to re-discover their attacking form from earlier in the season, having scored multiple goals in just one of their last six games. During that time though, they have kept five clean sheets, but Tennessee come in having scored 43 goals this season.

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

First Round: at #3 Virginia – 11am, Sunday November 12

As the lowest rated team of those which feature Aussies, Shelby Milton and St. Francis have the toughest draw of the seven, playing #3 seed Virginia away in the first round. St. Francis played a fairly tough non-conference schedule and came into league play with a 3-6-1 record, but recovered in conference play to finish 10-7-3 and win the Northeast Conference title on penalties over Sam Roff and Fairleigh Dickinson. Virginia’s record reads a similar 11-5-4, but with one significant difference: the Cavaliers play in the ACC, one of the top conferences in the nation. #3 seeds generally win their first round games by margins of three goals or more, but St. Francis can look to 2015’s upset of California by Loyola Marymount for inspiration in their attempt to create a boilover on the first weekend.

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

First Round: v San Diego State – 2pm, Saturday November 11

Despite securing a #2 seed, geographical considerations mean that UCLA will be taking on #80 RPI San Diego State despite a number of teams in the tournament sitting in the sub-200 range. However, UCLA have already played San Diego State this season, demolishing the Aztecs 5-1 as part of a five-game stretch to start the season in which the Bruins smashed home 25 goals. With Australian sophomore Teagan Micah in goal behind a defence that has been wall-like at times this season, UCLA have dropped points in just three games this season, although one of those was a loss to overall #1 seed Stanford. If the Bruins do get past San Diego State, they will take on Butler or Northwestern before facing either Pepperdine – whom they drew 1-1 with earlier in the season – or #3 seed Virginia. If the Bruins make the Elite Eight, they will likely face #1 seed North Carolina in an exact replay of the 2013 matchup at the same stage – #2 UCLA v #1 UNC. UCLA won that game 1-0 on their way to a national title, defeating Virginia on penalties in the semi-finals before edging Florida State in overtime.

2017 Week 12 Preview

Conference tournaments are the focus this week, with a number of Aussie-laden teams picking up high seeds and making themselves favourites to progress and reach the NCAA Tournament, particularly in the Colonial Athletic Association and Northeast Conference.

The Colonial Athletic Association Tournament will be one to watch this week, with Hofstra and Drexel holding the top two seeds as the competition moves into the semi-finals. The pairing of Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella and their Hofstra teammates go into the tournament as hot favourites following a perfect league slate, and take on a side with an Australian on the roster in William & Mary, although Lorena Bugden will continue to sit out this season. Hofstra defeated the Tribe 3-1 on the road earlier in the season, and with this game being played on Hofstra’s home patch, the Pride should be able to take care of the Tribe and move into the championship game.

Emma Heckenberg and Drexel take on Northeastern in the day’s first game, also at Hofstra Soccer Stadium. Drexel hosted the Huskies earlier in the season, with the game ending in a 1-1 draw, although Drexel will be wary of the fact that they were outshot 36-15 by Northeastern in that contest, with goalkeeper Christina Ogunsami making 20 saves. Surviving that kind of onslaught twice against the same team in the same season is not something that happens too often, so the Dragons will have to ensure that their defence does a far better job of shutting down the Huskies’ attack.

Travelling south, we find three Aussie seniors fighting for a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game as the Murray State pair of Harriet Withers and Nyomi Devine face Maddy Cornell and Southeast Missouri State. Murray State will desperate to atone for their slip-up in last year’s conference tournament which cost the Racers an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and ended their season prematurely, whilst for Southeast Missouri State, this is a real chance for some belated revenge for the defeat to Murray State in the 2015 championship game, especially for the seniors, including Cornell, for whom it is a last chance at a national tournament.

In the northeast corner of the country, the Aussies are dominating in the Northeast Conference. Shelby Milton’s Saint Francis outfit and Sam Roff’s Fairleigh Dickinson side earned the top two seeds in the conference tournament, with Fairleigh Dickinson earning the top spot and hosting rights for the tournament. Whilst fellow Australian Lauren Featherstone is not likely to play, Milton and Saint Francis will face off against Central Connecticut State, meaning one Australian is certain to reach the championship game. On the other side, Fairleigh Dickinson take on 4th seed Bryant. Fairleigh Dickinson took a 2-0 win in the regular season meeting between those two sides, a game which was also on the Knights’ home patch, making that contest a direct replication of the regular season battle.

Whilst these are the marquee games of the week, there will no doubt be excitement across the country as conference tournaments work their way through to championships across the next few days, culminating in tickets to the NCAA Tournament being punched in quick succession.

Full Schedule:

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v Saint Francis – 5am, Saturday November 4 (Northeast Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: at Utah – 6am, Saturday November 4

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: v Northeastern – 7:30am, Saturday November 4 (CAA Tournament Semifinals)

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: v Bryant – 2am, Saturday November 4 (Northeast Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: v Jackson State – 9:30am, Friday November 3 (SWAC Tournament Quarterfinals)

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: v UTRGV – 1pm, Saturday November 4 (WAC Tournament Semifinals)

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: v William & Mary – 10am, Saturday November 4 (CAA Tournament Semifinals)

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: v Duquesne – 5am, Saturday November 4 (Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: v Southeast Missouri State – 6am, Saturday November 4 (Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: v Oregon – 7:30am, Friday November 3

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: at Saint Mary’s – 9am, Sunday November 5

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: v Central Connecticut State – 5am, Saturday November 4 (Northeast Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: v Murray State – 6am, Saturday November 4 (Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: v California – 1pm, Saturday November 4

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: at Prairie View A&M – 4:30am, Friday November 3 (SWAC Tournament Quarterfinals)

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: v USC – 1pm, Saturday November 4

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v Furman – 9am, Saturday November 4

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at Hofstra – 10am, Saturday November 4 (CAA Tournament Semifinals)

2017 Week 11 Preview

Things are coming right down to the wire in the SWAC, with both Priya Gakhar and Paige Hayward right in the mix as the conference comes down to its final matchday. The undoubted match of the week is also the match of the regular season as Beattie Goad and Stanford travel south to face Teagan Micah and UCLA.

Conference tournaments kick off this week, and whilst a number of teams featuring Australians have secured first round byes, a number of Australians still line up this week in an attempt to win a title and secure an NCAA Tournament berth. However, regular season play continues, with both Aussies in the SWAC outside shots of securing a share of the regular season title.

Whilst both Paige Hayward and Priya Gakhar will be relying on Alabama State slipping up against seventh-placed Alabama A&M if either of their teams are to have a chance of securing a share of the SWAC regular season title, both Texas Southern and Grambling State can at least ensure a high seed in the conference tournament with a win in their final game this weekend. Gakhar and Grambling State certainly have the easier matchup of the two, taking on second-bottom Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Texas Southern, on the other hand, face Prairie View A&M, the team a single spot below them in the standings. A win for Prairie View A&M in this one would see them jump Texas Southern, and possibly Grambling State depending on their result. The SWAC conference tournament is a straight knockout between the top eight teams, hosted by Prairie View A&M, so allowing the tournament host to secure a high seed and a favourable draw along with it would be an absolute no-no for Texas Southern this weekend.

The Pac-12 doesn’t play a conference tournament, but when you have powerhouses UCLA and Stanford facing off in the regular season, the excitement is absolutely palpable regardless, and putting an Aussie on either side makes it even more riveting. Beattie Goad and Stanford come into the game flying high atop the coaches’ poll and banging home in excess of four goals a game, with defences seemingly at a loss to stop an attack that includes US national team midfielder Andi Sullivan and a number of other weapons including Catarina Macario and Kyra Carusa, who each have 12 goals, as well as Jordan DiBiasi and Jaye Boissiere, who have also tallied significant numbers of both goals and assists. It speaks to the class of this Stanford team that a player of Beattie Goad’s talent has been coming off the bench recently. The Stanford attack will no doubt give Teagan Micah one of her busiest days of the season, with the Australian forced into just 36 saves in 16 appearances in 2017. UCLA’s attack isn’t the behemoth that Stanford’s has proven to be this season, but with 41 goals in 16 games, the Bruins can still bang home goals when required, with Hailie Mace leading the way with 13 goals to this point. With Jessie Fleming, Ashley Sanchez, and Anika Rodriguez each providing six or more assists to this point, if Micah and the UCLA defence can keep the Stanford attack at bay, there are goals to be had at the other end. Stanford will definitely be favourites for this Friday morning game, but UCLA are not to be ruled out on their home patch in a battle of two of the national title favourites.

With Wyoming missing the Mountain West Conference tournament this year, the Cowgirls’ game at Colorado State will be the culmination of two outstanding college careers as Alisha Bass and Georgia Rowntree play their final match for the Brown and Gold. Playing their local rivals in their final game, the entire Wyoming side will be desperate to secure a win and finish on a high, especially as a loss would see Colorado State jump the Cowgirls in the Mountain West standings.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: v Vermont – 10am, Friday October 27 (America East Tournament Quarterfinals)

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v LIU Brooklyn – 10am, Saturday October 28

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: at Oregon State – 9am, Friday October 27; at Oregon – 5am, Monday October 29

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Furman – 5am, Monday October 30 (Southern Conference Tournament Quarterfinals)

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: at Sacred Heart – 6am, Saturday October 28; v Mount St. Mary’s – 3am, Monday October 30

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: v Arkansas-Pine Bluff – 7am, Saturday October 28

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: v Cal State Bakersfield – 10am, Saturday October 28

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: at Cal State Fullerton – 1pm, Friday October 27; at UC Riverside – 8am, Monday October 30

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: v Dayton – 4am, Sunday October 29 (Atlantic 10 Tournament Quarterfinals)

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: at Missouri – 10:30am, Friday October 27

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: v Southeastern Louisiana – 8am, Saturday October 28

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: v Charlotte – 10am, Saturday October 28

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: v Colorado – 9am, Friday October 27; v Utah – 7am, Monday October 30

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: at Pepperdine – 9am, Saturday October 28; at Loyola Marymount – 8am, Monday October 30

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: at Mount St. Mary’s – 10am, Saturday October 28; at LIU Brooklyn – 3am, Monday October 30

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: v Austin Peay – 9:30am, Saturday October 28 (Ohio Valley Conference Tournament First Round)

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: at UCLA – 1:30pm, Friday October 27; at USC – 9am, Monday October 30

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: at Prairie View A&M – 11am, Saturday October 28

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: v Oklahoma – 11am, Saturday October 28

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: v Stanford – 1:30pm, Friday October 27; v California – 7am, Monday October 30

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v VMI – 4am, Monday October 30 (Southern Conference Tournament Quarterfinals)

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at James Madison – 4am, Monday October 30 (Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Quarterfinals)

Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)

This week: at Colorado State – 7am, Saturday October 28

2017 Week 10 Preview

It’s time for what is always one of the most intriguing Aussie v Aussie games of the season – Kate Swartwout and Western Carolina v Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State in a local derby. However, that is far from being the only intriguing storyline of the week, with playoff pushes and title races coming right down to the wire.

This weekend sees the Southern Conference’s final matchday of the regular season play out, and for the Australians in the conference, it’s the matchup we’ve been waiting for all season: Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State hosting Kate Swartwout and Western Carolina in a game that will no doubt have ramifications with regards to conference tournament seeding. With the conference playing a 10 team tournament, a win in this game would not only secure local bragging rights – the two schools are less than two hours’ drive apart – but could also mean the difference between playing a first round game and receiving a bye through to the quarter-finals. Depending on the way the teams line up, we may even see Hodgson and Swartwout directly matched up at times, which would add another intriguing factor to the game.

The SWAC has a couple of weeks of regular season play to come, but Priya Gakhar and Grambling State are in pole position in the race for the regular season title. Leading the league on goal difference ahead of Paige Hayward and Texas Southern, the Tigers this week take on Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State – two teams that Texas Southern put a combined 12 goals past last weekend. Grambling State will have to make sure they take the full six points from these two games, as regardless of other results this week there is still likely to be at least one team in the mix going into the final week of the regular season. As for Hayward and Texas Southern, they play third placed Howard this week. Having played one more game than Grambling State, a win is absolutely non-negotiable for the Tigers if they are to remain within striking distance going into the final day of the season. Fortunately, Paige Hayward seems to have hit form at the right time, banging home a hat-trick in an 8-1 win over Mississippi Valley State last weekend.

Wyoming is another program desperate for wins this week, and for a number of reasons. With three games to play in the regular season, the Cowgirls are just two points out of the conference tournament spots in what is an incredibly close Mountain West Conference in 2017. The Aussie quintet travel to San Diego State before returning home to play New Mexico on Sunday on what will be Georgia Rowntree and Alisha Bass’s Senior Day. With San Diego State and New Mexico sitting above Wyoming but within touching distance at this point, this is definitely one that Wyoming need to get six points from, especially after last week’s losses to Boise State and Utah State.

With two weeks remaining in the Northeast Conference, this week could see two Aussies facing off in a game that sets one team ahead of the pack. Shelby Milton’s St. Francis side and Sam Roff’s Fairleigh Dickinson outfit will play on Monday morning, but before that, Fairleigh Dickinson will play their game in hand against 8th placed Robert Morris. With the teams tied going into this week, two wins for Fairleigh Dickinson would really give them the inside running going into the final weekend. However, a win for Saint Francis over the Knights would ensure a chaotic final weekend as both teams hunt for a regular season title.

Two points clear, a game in hand, and a match this week against an Eastern Illinois side that has picked up just one point in league play in 2017. Things look pretty good at the moment for Murray State heading into their final two conference games. A win over Eastern Illinois would secure the title with a game to play, and there is no doubting that the Racers will want to wrap things up as soon as possible, especially considering their recent history with final day opponent SIU Edwardsville. It was the Cougars who caused a boilover in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament last season, defeating the undefeated Murray State side 2-1 in overtime in the semi-finals at a time when the Racers looked like absolute locks to win the tournament and reach the NCAA Tournament. However, with the likes of Harriet Withers up top and Nyomi Devine in defence, the Racers should promptly demolish Eastern Illinois and not even have to worry about the result in the game against SIU Edwardsville.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: at Stony Brook – 10am, Friday October 20

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v Wagner – 10am, Saturday October 21; at Bryant – 6am, Monday October 23

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: v Arizona State – 8am, Friday October 20; v Arizona – 6am, Monday October 23

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: at James Madison – 10am, Friday October 20; at Elon – 4am, Monday October 23

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Western Carolina – 5am, Monday October 23

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: at Robert Morris – 6am, Saturday October 21; at Saint Francis – 4am, Monday October 23

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: at Mississippi Valley State – 11am, Saturday October 21; at Alcorn State – 5am, Monday October 23

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: at Utah Valley – 12pm, Saturday October 21; v Seattle – 7am, Monday October 23

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: v Cal Poly – 2pm, Monday October 23

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: at College of Charleston – 4am, Monday October 23

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: at George Mason – 10am, Friday October 20; v VCU – 4am, Monday October 23

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: v Texas A&M – 10am, Friday October 20; v Auburn – 9am, Monday October 23

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: v Eastern Illinois – 7am, Friday October 20; v SIU Edwardsville – 6am, Monday October 23

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: v Central Arkansas – 8am, Saturday October 21; v Northwestern State – 5am, Monday October 23

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: v Rice – 10am, Friday October 20; v North Texas – 4am, Monday October 23

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: at California – 9am, Friday October 20; at Stanford – 7am, Monday October 23

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: v San Francisco – 1pm, Saturday October 21; v Santa Clara – 7am, Monday October 23

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: v Fairleigh Dickinson – 4am, Monday October 23

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: v Jacksonville State – 6am, Monday October 23

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: v Oregon – 12pm, Friday October 20; v Oregon State – 7am, Monday October 23

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: at Howard – 9am, Saturday October 21

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: at West Virginia – 11am, Friday October 20; at Iowa State – 5am, Monday October 23

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: at Washington State – 1pm, Friday October 20; at Washington – 8am, Monday October 23

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: at East Tennessee State – 5am, Monday October 23

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: v Towson – 5am, Monday October 23

Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)

This week: at San Diego State – 1pm, Saturday October 21; v New Mexico – 5:30am, Monday October 23

2017 Week 9 Preview

As we move into the final few weeks of the regular season, teams are scrambling for position in their respective conferences, and the teams featuring Aussies are no exception. Hofstra and Murray State attempt to continue their run towards regular season titles, whilst Wyoming endeavour to move back into the title race in a tight Mountain West Conference.

Five points clear, nine points to play for. The equation is simple for Hofstra – win both of their games this week and they will be Colonial Athletic Association regular season champions. The Pride have opened their league schedule with six straight wins, and with Emily Hulbert back in the starting lineup after a couple of weeks coming off the bench after recovering from a knock, the Pride are back to full strength. Hofstra face third-placed Northeastern first up, with the Huskies holding a game in hand but sitting seven points behind the Pride. On paper, this will be the toughest opponent Hofstra face in conference play – Northeastern are also undefeated in league play, but have two draws to their name. Hofstra then host Elon on senior day, with the Phoenix having won just one of their six conference games to this point. With that in mind, four points should be the absolute minimum Hofstra take from this weekend, which would earn our Aussie duo of Monique Iannella and Emily Hulbert no worse than a share of the regular season title, even if fellow Australian Emma Heckenberg and Drexel were to win all of their remaining games and Hofstra were to lose next weekend.

UCLA and Stanford remain the top two teams in the coaches’ poll, but after UCLA’s unexpected 2-2 draw with Arizona, their positions have switched and it is now the Cardinal who sit atop the poll, as well as the Pac-12 standings. Whilst there are very few easy games in the Pac-12, both sides would be expected to win their sole game this week, especially UCLA, who host a Utah side that is yet to tally a single goal in their five league games so far and sit second from bottom in the standings. That bodes well for Teagan Micah’s clean sheet numbers, but maybe not her total saves number as the Utes won’t be expected to trouble the Australian sophomore particularly often. Stanford, on the other hand, face a slightly more difficult challenge as they host fifth placed Washington. The Huskies possess one of the tighter defences in the league, giving up just six goals all season and only one in their five conference games this season. However, there is a counterpoint: Stanford’s defence has given up only five goals all season, and the Cardinal have banged home 54 goals in 13 games. Short of drafting in someone like Becky Sauerbrunn to help out, any defence would find it tough against this Stanford attack, and hopefully we can see Beattie Goad afforded more playing time in this classy outfit, having been used only sparingly in recent games.

Wyoming currently sit on the cusp of the Mountain West Conference tournament spots in a league that is incredibly close at the top with five games to play. To that point, this weekend could be pivotal for the Cowgirls, who play the lowly Utah State before facing fellow mid-table team Boise State. With Wyoming hosting both games this week, this is certainly one pair of games that the Cowgirls will be seeing as one that they can take the full six points from to strengthen their position in the conference standings. After making 14 saves in 135 minutes of play last week, Georgia Rowntree is in some of the best form she has exhibited in her time at Wyoming, which will no doubt boost the confidence of her teammates, including Alisha Bass and Jemma House, who have both been involved in the team’s attacking output recently, chalking up a goal and an assist respectively last week.

Due to a combination of a couple of draws and holding a game in hand at this point, Murray State are surprisingly in third in the Ohio Valley Conference heading into this week’s games. However, the Racers are unlikely to be worried by their current position in the standings, especially with the opportunity to knock off the current top team, Belmont, this week. However, they first have to take on rivals Austin Peay in their first game of the week. Whilst Australian senior Harriet Withers has only gone one game without scoring a goal, due to Murray State’s schedule that now equates to 12 days, and there is no doubt that the Palm Beach product will be itching to get out and bang home a hatful, whilst at the other end, Nyomi Devine remains ever reliable as part of a Racers defence that has given up just two goals in six conference games.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: at Vermont – 10am, Friday October 13; v Maine – 4am, Monday October 16

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v St Francis – 10am, Saturday October 14; v Robert Morris – 3am, Monday October 16

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: at USC – 10am, Saturday October 14

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: v Charleston – 4am, Monday October 16

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: at Wofford – 10am, Saturday October 14; at Furman – 5am, Monday October 16

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: v Bryant – 3am, Monday October 16

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: v Alabama State – 8am, Saturday October 14; v Alabama A&M – 5am, Monday October 16

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: v Chicago State – 1pm, Saturday October 14; v UMKC – 7am, Monday October 16

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: v UC Santa Barbara – 4pm, Friday October 13; v Cal State Northridge – 2pm, Monday October 16

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: at Northeastern – 9am, Friday October 13; v Elon – 4am, Monday October 16

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: at St. Bonaventure – 10am, Friday October 13; v Fordham – 4am, Monday October 16

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: v Arkansas – 10am, Saturday October 14

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: v Austin Peay – 7am, Friday October 13; at Belmont – 6am, Monday October 16

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: at Sam Houston State – 11am, Saturday October 14; at Stephen F. Austin – 5am, Monday October 16

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: v Southern Miss – 7am, Saturday October 14; v Louisiana Tech – 4am, Monday October 16

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: v Arizona – 1pm, Saturday October 14

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: at BYU – 1pm, Friday October 13

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: at Central Connecticut State – 10am, Saturday October 14; at Wagner – 4am, Monday October 16

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: v Eastern Illinois – 10:30am, Saturday October 14; v SIU Edwardsville – 6am, Monday October 16

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: v Washington – 2pm, Saturday October 14

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: v Alcorn State – 11am, Saturday October 14; v Mississippi Valley State – 5am, Monday October 16

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: v Oklahoma State – 11am, Saturday October 14

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: v Utah – 2pm, Friday October 13

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: at Furman – 10am, Saturday October 14; at Wofford – 5am, Monday October 16

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at UNC Wilmington – 10am, Friday October 13; at Northeastern – 4am, Monday October 16

Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)

This week: v Utah State – 8am, Saturday October 14; v Boise State – 6am, Monday October 16

2017 Week 8 Preview

UCLA and Stanford head in completely opposite directions geographically as the Pac-12 pair continue to keep pace with each other, whilst the Aussie duo at Hofstra look to remain atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings. The story is the same for the Australian pair at Murray State, who face an Aussie assistant coach against Eastern Kentucky in a clash of the titans in the Ohio Valley Conference.

We kick off Week 8 a day earlier than usual, with Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State taking on The Citadel on Thursday morning Australian time. The Buccaneers are on a three-game skid and have lost seven of their last eight games as their season threatens to derail, but should still be slightly favoured at home to The Citadel, who have a slightly better record than East Tennessee State, but against a far inferior schedule to this point. It’s been a lean season for the entire East Tennessee State attack, but The Citadel’s defence has been leaky at times this season, so Thursday would be an ideal time for a few confidence-boosting goals. The Buccaneers face Mercer in their second game of the week, an opponent that will pose far more of a challenge. The Bears have the second-best record of any team in the Southern Conference, but East Tennessee State won the last meeting between the teams, notching a 3-1 victory in last year’s conference tournament.

Hofstra sit atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings with four straight wins to start league play, and this week the Pride and their Aussie duo of Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella face a pair of mid-table teams looking to climb the standings. Towson have won just one of their first three games in conference play, and will need to start winning soon if they are to secure a decent seeding in the conference tournament. However, Hofstra have been dominant so far this season, and with Northeastern right on their tail, will be in no mood to allow Towson even the slightest look. The Pride then face James Madison in their second game of the week. The Dukes have split their first four games in league play to sit at 2-2-0 and 7-6-0 overall. Their attack has produced 25 goals this year in comparison to Hofstra’s 20, but they have also conceded 18 goals in their 13 games. In contrast, the Pride defence, featuring Monique Iannella and shielded by Emily Hulbert in midfield, have conceded just 11 goals in 13 games, with three of those coming in a loss to a powerhouse Penn State team. If the Hofstra defence comes to play this week, one goal in each game may just be enough to secure two victories.

If Hofstra do drop points, Emma Heckenberg and Drexel are right there ready to bridge the gap. The Dragons are 5 points behind Hofstra at the moment in third place in the CAA, but one of those losses is to the Pride. Drexel face Delaware and UNC Wilmington, neither of which will be easy opponents, but both are eminently winnable games for the side from Philadelphia. With Emma Heckenberg shifting between midfield and defence in recent weeks, the Victorian junior has seen her minutes increase as the weeks have continued, and she has now firmly re-established herself as an integral member of the Dragons’ starting eleven. With Drexel giving up just 14 goals in 13 games this season, Heckenberg may be flying under the radar slightly considering the exploits of some other Australians, but her performances have been solid throughout the season to this point and she will no doubt be heavily involved in any Drexel success this weekend.

Pac-12 action continues this week with UCLA and Stanford still sitting in the top two spots in the coaches’ poll. This week sees Teagan Micah and the Bruins head to Arizona to play both Arizona and Arizona State. Neither team has been especially dominant in attack this season, scoring just 11 and 14 goals respectively this season. However, Teagan Micah will still need to be at her best, with her performances to date turning more than a couple of draws into wins for UCLA in 2017. Stanford, on the other hand, head for higher altitude, taking on Colorado and Utah in a true test of fitness for the Cardinal. Beattie Goad has been in and out of the starting lineup this season, but coming up against two teams which spend their entire lives at this altitude means that coach Paul Ratcliffe will almost certainly need to utilise his bench more than usual. Therefore, regardless of whether Goad starts or comes off the bench, there will almost surely be solid minutes in store for the sophomore as the Cardinal look to keep pace with UCLA. In the Pacific Northwest, it will also be intriguing to see if Olivia Ellis continues to see extended minutes for Oregon State as the Beavers take on Washington and Washington State after averaging nearly an hour per game last week.

Harriet Withers may be chalking up record after record for Murray State at the moment, but that all gets pushed aside briefly this week in a top-of-the-table clash with Eastern Kentucky. Former Washington State defender and once-capped Matilda Rachael Doyle will be on the sidelines as assistant coach for Eastern Kentucky, turning this already intense battle into an Aussie v Aussie matchup of sorts. Like Murray State, Eastern Kentucky have a potent offence, but their defence has been leaky at times. This will need to change quickly if they are to stop Withers and the Murray State attack, whilst at the other end, Nyomi Devine and the Racers’ defence have given up just nine goals in eleven games to this point. Whilst this is a battle of the top teams in the conference at this point, it’s safe to say that Murray State should be considered strong favourites in this one.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: v Hartford – 10am, Friday October 6; v Massachusetts-Lowell – 7am, Monday October 9

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: at Sacred Heart – 3am, Monday October 9

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: v California – 8:30am, Friday October 6; v Stanford – 5am, Monday October 9

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: at Delaware – 10am, Friday October 6; at UNC Wilmington – 4am, Monday October 9

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Citadel – 10am, Thursday October 5; v Mercer – 5am, Monday October 9

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: v Wagner – 10am, Saturday October 7; at LIU Brooklyn – 4am, Monday October 9

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: at Texas Southern – 11am, Saturday October 7; at Prairie View A&M – 5am, Monday October 9

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: at UTRGV – 12pm, Saturday October 7; at New Mexico State – 6am, Monday October 9

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: v UC Irvine – 2pm, Monday October 9

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: at Towson – 6am, Friday October 6; v James Madison – 4am, Monday October 9

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: v Davidson – 10am, Friday October 6; at Massachusetts – 4am, Monday October 9

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: v Georgia – 10am, Friday October 6; at Mississippi – 6am, Monday October 9

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: at Eastern Kentucky – 7am, Friday October 6

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: v McNeese State – 8am, Saturday October 7

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: v Florida International – 6am, Monday October 9

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: v Washington – 1pm, Friday October 6; v Washington State – 8am, Monday October 9

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: at San Diego – 1pm, Sunday October 8

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: v Robert Morris – 4am, Monday October 9

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: at Austin Peay – 11am, Saturday October 7; v Belmont – 6am, Monday October 9

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: at Utah – 10am, Friday October 6; at Colorado – 5am, Monday October 9

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: v Grambling State – 11am, Saturday October 7; v Arkansas-Pine Bluff – 5am, Monday October 9

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: at Baylor – 11am, Saturday October 7

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: at Arizona State – 1pm, Friday October 6; at Arizona – 6am, Monday October 9

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v Mercer – 10am, Saturday October 7; v Citadel – 5am, Monday October 9

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at Elon – 10am, Friday October 6; v Delaware – 5am, Monday October 9

Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)

This week: at Nevada – 10:30am, Saturday October 7; at UNLV – 7am, Monday October 9

2017 Week 7 Preview

It’s the first week of the second half of the regular season, but it also appears to be the Week of the Aussie v Aussie Matchup, with at least two cracking games littered with Australians set to come this week. Elsewhere, Ellie Papalexiou continues to make her return from serious injury for Pacific.

More than a few potential Aussie v Aussie battles have fallen by the wayside due to injuries this season, but in Drexel v Hofstra, we have a potentially electrifying battle alongside the presence of Emma Heckenberg for the Dragons and Monique Iannella for the Pride. Both teams went undefeated in their opening weekend of Colonial Athletic Association play, with Hofstra picking up wins over Delaware and UNC Wilmington, whilst Drexel drew 1-1 with Northeastern and knocked off William & Mary by a score of 2-0. Both teams have won six of their first eleven games, and are separated by just 11 spaces in the RPI at this point, meaning we are likely to see a close contest with two Australians at the heart of things, even if Hofstra may still be missing Emily Hulbert this week.

If we turn our heads in a southwesterly direction towards Kentucky, we find Murray State taking on Southeast Missouri State, where there will also be Australians on both sides. Harriet Withers and Nyomi Devine are two of the best players in the entire Ohio Valley Conference, with Devine picking up the conference defensive player of the week last week and Withers recently tying the Murray State career goalscoring record. Whilst Maddy Cornell doesn’t have the same credentials as the Racers’ pair, the Southeast Missouri State senior has forged quite a season to this point, chipping in two goals in the process. Murray State will be heavily favoured going into this one, but the game isn’t played on paper, and the Racers have already had one tough contest in conference play against the otherwise-lowly Morehead State.

Heading even further west, Oregon State v UCLA could also feature Aussies on both sides. Teagan Micah’s exploits for UCLA in her season and a half in Westwood are well known to this point, and the sophomore’s efforts between the sticks this year have helped see the Bruins maintain their grip on the #1 spot in the coaches’ poll for the last few weeks. Freshman Olivia Ellis has been in and out of the Oregon State lineup, not featuring last week, but with the Beavers currently sitting at a mediocre 3-4-2 record, a bit of change may not be the worst thing in the world for the team from Corvallis. However, throwing an experimental lineup at a rampant UCLA side probably isn’t the safest option available.

Finally, it will certainly be fascinating to continue to monitor the progress of Pacific senior Ellie Papalexiou as she continues to make her comeback from an injury suffered last season. Papalexiou made her season debut with a brief spell off the bench last week, but as her fitness improves, her minutes will surely increase as the season progresses and hopefully that will be the case as Pacific take on Gonzaga and Portland this week. Gonzaga sit at a healthy 8-1-1 record and that will no doubt be a tough game, but Portland’s 3-6-1 record is almost identical to Pacific’s 3-6-2 to this point, and the Tigers will surely have their eye on that as a real chance to take the three points.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: v Binghamton – 9am, Friday September 29; at New Hampshire – 5am, Monday October 2

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: at Fairleigh Dickinson – 9am, Saturday September 30; at Mount St. Mary’s – 4am, Monday October 2

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: at Washington State – 10:30am, Friday September 29; at Washington – 6am, Monday October 2

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: at Hofstra – 9am, Friday September 29; v Towson – 5am, Monday October 2

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: at UNC Greensboro – 9am, Saturday September 30; at VMI – 5am, Monday October 2

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: v Central Connecticut State – 9am, Saturday September 30

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: v Jackson State – 7am, Saturday September 30; v Southern – 5am, Monday October 2

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: at UC Davis – 7am, Friday September 29; at Long Beach State – 12pm, Monday October 2

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: v Drexel – 9am, Friday September 29; at William & Mary – 5am, Monday October 2

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: v Dayton – 9am, Friday September 29; at Rhode Island – 4am, Monday October 2

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: at Kentucky – 9:30am, Saturday September 30

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: v Southeast Missouri State – 6am, Friday September 29; v Tennessee-Martin – 7am, Monday October 2

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: at Houston Baptist – 10am, Saturday September 30; at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – 5am, Monday October 2

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: v Texas-San Antonio – 9am, Saturday September 30; at UTEP – 9am, Monday October 2

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: at USC – 8:30am, Friday September 29; at UCLA – 7am, Monday October 2

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: v Gonzaga – 12pm, Saturday September 30; v Portland – 7am, Monday October 2

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: v Sacred Heart – 5am, Saturday September 30; v Bryant – 4am, Monday October 2

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: at Murray State – 6am, Friday September 29

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: v Arizona – 12pm, Friday September 29; v Arizona State – 7am, Monday October 2

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: at Alabama State – 10am, Saturday September 30; at Alabama A&M – 5am, Monday October 2

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: at Texas – 10am, Saturday September 30; v TCU – 5am, Monday October 2

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: v Oregon – 10am, Friday September 29; v Oregon State – 7am, Monday October 2

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v VMI – 6am, Saturday September 30; at UNC Greensboro – 5am, Monday October 2

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: v College of Charleston – 9am, Friday September 29; v Hofstra – 5am, Monday October 2

Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)

This week: v Fresno State – 8am, Saturday September 30; v San Jose State – 6am, Monday October 2