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.

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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