NCAA Soccer – The First XI for October 13, 2013 – (8) Wake Forest vs (1) Virginia

(8) Wake Forest vs (1) Virginia – 1:00 PM

Virginia’s unabated march towards the ACC title continued in earnest on Thursday as they edged past Notre Dame in extra time in controversial circumstances. The Cavs had been given all they could handle by the visiting Irish, scoring goals to take the lead on two occasions, only to be pegged back twice by Elizabeth Tucker, forcing the game to extra time. There’d be serious controversy in the second half of extra time though, when a Morgan Brian header crossed the line. Maybe. The Irish protested vehemently that it hadn’t, but it mattered little in the end, as the referee had adjudged it had, with video evidence inconclusive. All that mattered in the end was that Brian, Gloria Douglas, and Danielle Colaprico had run riot for much of the match, the eleventh time in thirteen games the club had scored three or more goals this season. Can anything stop the blue and orange thrashing machine? The Irish might have come closest, and it remains to be seen how much that win took out of this Virginia side who have dealt with having the bullseye on their back pretty well so far. Everyone’s circled the match against North Carolina next Sunday, but the Cavs better not overlook this tough trip to Winston-Salem against a very motivated Wake Forest side. The Virginia defense showed some vulnerability as it had against Duke earlier in the season, but slowing down the Cav attack is proving to be a hell of a task for everyone. North Carolina and Florida State are still to come on the schedule, but three more points here would go a long way in wrapping up a league title for the Cavs.

Back home after four grueling games on the road, Wake Forest will look to get back on the winning trek after having gone 1-2-1 on that road trip. While the Demon Deacons’ league title hopes are all but on ice right now, they still have a high national seed in their sights with draws against Florida State and Notre Dame in the league helping their cause. Ten days ago, the Demon Deacons battled tooth and nail with the Irish, falling behind with less than ten minutes to play but hitting back less than a minute later through Kendall Fischlein. Despite being outshot 4-1 in extra time, Wake would hold on for a vital point, made all the more impressive by the fact that they used just twelve players all game. The Demon Deacons’ resolve figures to be tested further this match with Katie Stengel now sidelined, and Rachel Nuzzolese seemingly no closer to a return during an injury plagued senior season. Absent those two, the scoring duties likely fall upon the revelatory Riley Ridgik, tied for the team lead with six goals, and Caroline Wootten, who has it all to do in her new role as a starting center forward for the club. Realistically though, it’s hard to see this club keeping up offensively with the Cavs, meaning the defense is going to have to do something few have been able to this season: shut down the UVA attack. If they can pull it off, the dividends in November will likely be well worth the effort.

(11) Virginia Tech vs (16) Notre Dame – 12:00 PM

Notre Dame likely saw its ACC title hopes go down the drain after Thursday’s controversial ending in their showdown against league leaders Virginia. In a rainy thriller in Charlottesville, Notre Dame came as close as anyone in the nation has to stopping the Virginia juggernaut, fighting back from two one-goal deficits after a pair of close range finishes from Elizabeth Tucker. The Irish would be undone in extra time though when a Morgan Brian header found the back of the net…or at least crossed the line in a contentious decision that became no more clear upon multiple replays, though there also may have been a handball on the line, so it could’ve been a moot point at any rate. What’s most important though may have been how well the club played in defeat considering how tame they had looked in their other two losses earlier in the year. Offensively, the club got two opportunistic finishes from Tucker, while Morgan Andrews continued to impress going forward. The fact that Cari Roccaro and Lauren Bohaboy combined for just a single shot on goal has to be a bit concerning though. The defense had some issues corralling all of Virginia’s offensive weapons, but that’s to be expected and probably doesn’t reflect too badly on UND. There can’t be any kind of Sunday hangover like there was last week when the team fell to Miami (FL). Virginia Tech is more than good enough to put a hurting on the Irish if they don’t come out ready, but three points here for UND could be huge for their hopes of a high national seed.

The Hokies enter this one well rested if nothing else after a ten day layoff following their 1-0 defeat of Clemson last Thursday night. Virginia Tech are rolling on a six match unbeaten run since their lone defeat on the season, a 2-1 setback to North Carolina. It’s seen the Hokies make an unlikely rise up the rankings that makes a high national seed a real possibility if the club can finish up strong. The run in is hardly an easy one though, as besides Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Florida State, and Virginia are all looming in wait. First thing’s first though, as the club has another chance to record a resume boosting win with the Irish coming to Blacksburg on Sunday. Virginia Tech was impressive in the win over the Tigers last Thursday, playing pretty even with the club in the first half before outshooting their opponents 10-1 over the second half and extra time. It wasn’t exactly an offensive masterclass, as VT put just four shots on goal the whole way through, but this club has just found a way to win this year, with Katie Yensen delivering the goods early in extra time against Clemson. Murielle Tiernan was still a big factor for the Hokies though, and she’ll be key offensively again against a staunch Notre Dame defense helmed by Katie Naughton. The Hokies might just be catching the Irish at the best time, they coming off ten days of rest, while Notre Dame just came off a taxing heartbreaker against Virginia. It might just add up to another three points during this tremendous season for the Hokies.

(22) Boston College vs (2) North Carolina – 1:00 PM

Boston College will be hoping the ball bounces their way again on Sunday. Perhaps literally, given the turf at their Newton home that gives their club a unique (and much loathed) home-field advantage. The Eagles have certainly proven to be one of the league’s most exciting teams in recent weeks, scoring ten goals in their past three games but also conceding seven in that same span in the course of two wins and one defeat. The lurching form has probably made supporters a little nauseous with the club still just a game under .500, but the Eagles have definitely shown the potential to cause many a team problems thus far in 2013. The club’s last win, over Duke, could go down as one of the season’s most important, as the Eagles were able to knock off a potential bubble rival and move closer to safety as far as getting to .500 is concerned. Mercurial forward Stephanie McCaffrey popped back to life and netted a hat trick to lead Boston College to victory, while McKenzie Meehan also netted from the spot to give herself thirteen goals on the year. The dynamic duo is sure to be a big challenge to the Carolina defense, while the Eagles’ own defense did an adequate job of stifling Duke’s attack. Of course, BC’s defense has been prone to some rather severe meltdowns at times this year, so you have to wonder how much offense will be enough against the high-powered Heels. BC’s been much better defensively at home though, meaning the Eagles might not be a bad bet for an upset here.

North Carolina is back rolling again after a big blip near the beginning of league play that saw them drop back-to-back ACC games against Notre Dame and Florida State. Since, the club has reeled off four straight wins to give itself the tiniest glimmer of hope for a league title push. More than likely though, North Carolina will be battling for a #1 seed down the stretch. Truthfully, the only team UNC has beaten in their current winning streak that’s close to the upper echelon of the ACC is Maryland, who the Heels bounced, 3-1, after going down stunningly early after a defensive mistake. There was little drama on Thursday though, as the Tar Heels showed who was boss in a dominant 3-0 victory over NC State. With some of their offensive weapons finally getting back healthy, Carolina looked a potent side again, with the brilliant Crystal Dunn scoring a brace before Amber Munerlyn’s first career goal off a Kealia Ohai flick added to the night’s fireworks. Dunn and Ohai make the offense tick, but getting the likes of Alexa Newfield back on the pitch is going to be key to open up space for the rest of the offense. The defense has also come back around after a worrying stretch earlier in the season where they conceded in four straight, something almost unheard of in Chapel Hill. The big one is obviously next Sunday against Virginia, but the Tar Heels can’t let down their guard going into Newton, one of the ACC’s hardest venues to play at, facing a motivated BC team.

(24) Louisville vs (14) UCF – 1:00 PM

The AAC title might be decided on Sunday afternoon as league frontrunners Louisville host UCF. The Cardinals’ title hopes got a big boost on Friday when they were able to overpower South Florida while Sunday’s opponents were held to a shock draw against Cincinnati. The Cardinals have been on a roll since a three match winless streak earlier in the season, winning eight of their last nine, including five straight to open up the league season. Friday’s win over the Bulls was probably one of the club’s best performances of the season, as Louisville rolled right over a formidable South Florida side. Mexican offensive machine Charlyn Corral continued her phenomenal senior season with the game winner in the ninth minute before crossing for the assist on the second goal late in the second half. Louisville’s attack wasn’t exactly prolific with just five shots on goal, but it matters little when you put three of them in the back of the net. The Cardinals erased the USF offense as well, limiting the Bulls to just a pair of shots on goal. With a healthy lead in the AAC table, perhaps the last thing standing between the Cardinals and a league title is victory over their closest rivals UCF. They’ll lead by eight over the Knights with a win on Sunday, and with two of their remaining three against Temple and Cincinnati, it’s hard to see them coughing up such a big lead.

UCF may have a game in hand at this point, but they’re still in rather desperate circumstances in their hunt for a league title thanks to Louisville’s electric form early and their shocking slip against Cincinnati on Friday. It was hardly a smash and grab affair either, as the Bearcats gave as good as they got, putting the Knights behind early before Lena Petermann was able to strike back for UCF. Petermann has been a bit inconsistent as a rookie in Orlando but has also displayed a lot of match winning ability throughout the season as well. The defense didn’t have their best showing despite conceding just once though, and it was pretty interesting to see the goalkeeping platoon of Lianne Maldonado and Connie Organ return after Maldonado had held the position full-time for a while this season. The Knights have been leaking goals as of late, having conceded a goal in each of their last four games and in five of six overall. Still, the offense has been good enough to ensure the Knights are coming into this one on the back of a ten match unbeaten run. The defense is going to have to really buckle down to stop the likes of Corral and Christine Exeter though. UCF will still have to show some aggression going forward though, as they know anything less than three points will likely see the AAC title going to Louisville come season’s end.

(21) Maryland vs (35) Duke – 1:00 PM

I think I’ve typed this roughly a hundred times over the last month, but it may really be it for Duke if they can’t get a win on Sunday at Maryland. The Blue Devils are two games under .500 with six to play in the regular season, a regular season that might be it for the club if they can’t turn things around in a hurry, as they’re currently on the outside looking in in the ACC Tournament picture. The club has been horrific since winning three of four to open the season. Since, the team has one win in nine and would likely be well dead and buried if they weren’t playing in the ACC, where the chance to change your fortunes is always just a day away. Draws against West Virginia and Virginia Tech have ensured Duke will still be in the at-large bid hunt if they get to .500, but that’s a very big if with Notre Dame and North Carolina also still to play on the schedule. The club’s defense was cut to ribbons the last time out against Boston College, as the bouncing turf and a high powered Eagles side did them in in a 4-1 hammering. The defense, a big worry before the season, has generally been awful in the ACC, giving up a shocking fifteen in six games. Duke’s offense has been capable if not exactly explosive as some expected, but nobody’s going to be winning too many league games with that type of defensive record. Odds are, the Blue Devils are going to need one of their best defensive showings on Sunday if they aren’t to slide deeper into the mire.

Maryland haven’t exactly been setting the ACC on fire either, standing at just one game over .500 right now, though their run in is a whole hell of a lot more forgiving as well, with many of the league’s strugglers still to play. The recent form hasn’t been good at all with one win in four and two in six blighting the copy for the Terps. The win over Wake Forest has made all the difference though, keeping the club out of bubble trouble for the moment, though the road to a national seed certainly isn’t smooth. The Terps looked to be on their way to another upset over nemesis North Carolina when Lauren Berman finished off a big defensive mistake after just seventeen seconds against the Heels last Sunday. Really though, it was all downhill after that, with the defending national champs fighting back to put Maryland to the sword with three unanswered goals. After that initial goal, Maryland had just a single shot on goal for the rest of the match, underlining how second best they were throughout. The Terps’ away form has been positively frightful thus far, but the team has generally been much more formidable at home, meaning it’s a good thing this one sees Maryland hosting the Blue Devils. With three on the road to follow though, Maryland certainly wants to seal the three points here. Anything else, and the club may still be worrying a bit about ending the season at .500 and ending up eligible for an at-large bid that should be easily attainable otherwise.

(4) Penn State vs (13) Michigan – 1:00 PM

The Big Ten title race has an unexpected interloper in Nebraska, but most will see this Sunday showdown as decisive in the race for league glory as Penn State tries to keep pace with the Cornhuskers, while Michigan tries to thrust themselves right back in the heart of the battle. Penn State’s RPI profile seems to be a walking contradiction, as PSU has managed to cling to the Top 5 in the RPI despite having not achieved a positive result against a club in the uRPI Top 30. With the highly rated Michigan and Nebraska still to come, they’ll have a few chances to right that wrong down the stretch. Of course, PSU will want to get back on the winning trek after seeing their nine match win streak snapped at the hands of Minnesota in a shock defeat last Sunday. The Nittany Lions’ leaky defense came back to haunt them, as the y conceded for the seventh straight game but found no answers offensively, with the Gophers being the first team to log a clean sheet against PSU all season long. PSU outshot their opposition by a 3:1 ratio both overall and in on-target efforts but drew a blank in front of goal, as Maya Hayes was held to just one shot on goal on the afternoon. With Nebraska flying in the league right now, the pressure is back on PSU to pick up three points and stay with the Huskers in the league table. There’s also the added incentive of adding another quality result to their resume as they chase a high national seed. Given how tough Michigan has played PSU recently though, it’s far from a given that PSU is going to get back on the winning track on Sunday.

Michigan got themselves back in the title picture last weekend with two away wins to rival Michigan State and fellow title challengers Nebraska. It was a much needed six points after the club had tripped up at home, netting just one point in a weekend against Wisconsin and Minnesota. In a tight game with a whole lot of off-target shots, the Wolverines managed to come up trumps thanks to a early second half surge, with Nkem Ezurike and Madisson Lewis both scoring shortly before the hour mark. The defense did have to hold on a bit after conceding late, marking the third straight game the team has conceded. The goals against have come in a steady drip, with the team having given up a goal in eight of twelve games. The thing is, Michigan hasn’t given up multiple goals in a season thus far, a mark that certainly may be in danger on the road against a very potent Penn State side. That’s not to say that Michigan can’t deliver the offense themselves, though they also haven’t scored more than two goals in eight straight, meaning a goalfest probably would not suit them, though it’s certainly a possibility given PSU’s rather fragile defense. Three points would give them back-to-back wins against their closest challengers for the title, but the erratic form elsewhere in the league may ultimately submarine their hopes. Still, at the very least, a win against PSU on the road would go a long way in securing a national seed down the road.

(23) Cal vs (3) UCLA – 2:00 PM

One down, one to go. Probably. At the very least, UCLA are halfway to re-establishing their dominance over the state of California after their thrilling 2-1 win over Stanford on Thursday night. It looked like things were going horribly wrong again after Stanford had scored an eighty-ninth minute equalizer after the Bruins had taken a lead just after the hour mark. But where other UCLA teams have wilted, this one buckled down and scored a sensational winner in extra time after Lauren Kaskie finished off a passing move worthy of many plaudits. The Bruins attack was dangerous the whole night, with the likes of Rosie White and Jenna Richmond giving the Stanford defense fits in combining for six shots on goal. The defense reeled a bit, but that’s to be expected against a club with Stanford’s firepower, and UCLA was still able to hold Taylor Uhl without a shot as they nicked it. It’ll ring a little hollow if the Bruins can’t go on and finish the job in the next two matches against title rivals Cal and Arizona State. The Golden Bears in Berkeley are up next, and it’s certainly not an opponent the Bruins can take lightly since the last time they were here, they fought to a scoreless draw. Having conceded just five goals all season, UCLA brings one of the nation’s best defenses into this high stakes showdown. They’ll likely need one of their best efforts of the season to keep the Cal attack at bay and bring home three points that would bring them closer to a league title.

Cal comes into this game two points behind league leaders UCLA and are still unbeaten on the season at 9-0-4. The Golden Bears dropped a big two points on Friday afternoon though in their state derby with USC that could prove costly in the end, with Cal having been unexpectedly held by the Pac-12 strugglers. Cal had looked to be good for the win after Rachel Mercik netted her fifth of the season in the first half, but USC pegged the Golden Bears back late in the second half to send the game to extra time, where neither side could find a golden goal. While the defense was on their heels in giving up twenty shots (eight on-target), it’s the offensive showing that might raise a few eyebrows. Ifeoma Onumonu was effectively marked out of the game, logging zero shots in ninety-four minutes for the club, and with Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick only managing a single shot herself, it was easy to see how Cal’s attack bogged down. Of course, UCLA has one of the nation’s best defenses, so it’s not about to get any easier for the Berkeley club. These are the types of games league champions get something from though, and considering Cal’s already had a couple of draws, they might need three points to keep up in the title race. There’s also added motivation in knowing that a result against UCLA would come in handy during the race for a national seed, of which these Golden Bears are very much a part of with seven matches to play in the regular season.

(9) Marquette vs (5) Georgetown – 2:00 PM

Different conference (kind of), same enthralling rivalry. This one’s also a de facto Big East title decider, as the Golden Eagles will all but seal a league title with a win here, as three points will see them up by five over closest challengers DePaul and Georgetown. After a bit of a stuttering start to the season that saw Marquette lose two of their first three, they’ve since won ten of eleven, including six straight and their first four league games. It’s taken them closer to more silverware and within touching distance of a national seed with five games left in the regular season. The offense has dominated the last few times out, with Marquette putting three past both Saint John’s (NY) and Xavier last weekend. The Golden Eagles used Xavier for target practice last Sunday, putting a whopping fifteen shots on goal on the board and probably leaving a few on the field as they rolled to an easy win. The likes of Katie Hishmeh and Shalese Miller got their first goals of the season, while the defense all but silenced the Musketeers attack. With three players on five goals or more, Marquette has a varied group of scorers, though they’ll probably look first and foremost at Maegan Kelly to lead the line. The defense has improved in the league after some hairy moments earlier in the year, and they’ll need to keep it tight at the back considering they’re facing one of the nation’s most explosive attacks on Sunday at Valley Fields.

The Hoyas come into Sunday as one of DI’s leaders in goals scored, having not been shutout once this season. They also have been held to just one goal twice, coincidentally in both of the club’s draws this season. Since being held to a 1-1 draw in the league opener against DePaul, the Hoyas have rolled over Xavier and Butler before edging past Providence last Sunday, 2-1. That match wasn’t exactly a walk in the park though, as the Hoyas were limited to just four shots on goal, though they were essentially out of sight a little more than an hour into the game after scoring a couple goals. The Hoyas have four players with five or more goals, including Kaitlin Brenn’s seven strikes. There’s no shortage of creativity her either, with Audra Ayotte’s nine assists and Daphne Corboz’s ten, despite the latter having missed five games at the beginning of the season. The Hoyas’ offensive potential is frightening with a healthy Corboz in the lineup, and a win in Milwaukee would go a long way in furthering an already growing legend in the nation’s capital. A #1 seed could be within reach if the club can win out down the stretch, and a convincing win here might just open some eyes as to this club’s potential for a run to the College Cup. With the defense having kept just one clean sheet in six games though, they might have to be prepared for a slugfest against Marquette on Sunday.

(20) Washington State vs (64) Utah – 2:00 PM

Two clubs in two very different places in the RPI meet up in Pullman on Sunday afternoon, hoping for three points to keep up in a relatively open Pac-12 title race. The home side probably have little to worry about in the computer rankings right now, closer to a national seed than the bubble despite a profile that doesn’t exactly pop with big results. While there are plenty of chances for the Cougars to build on their resume during a pretty difficult run-in, they’ll probably be happy with avoiding an adverse result against a Utah side that appears to be sinking in the RPI right now. Wazzu had a rough start to league play, being held to a scoreless draw with Oregon in the opener before falling to league titans UCLA in Westwood eight days later. The ship has definitely been righted since though, with wins at USC and against Colorado taking WSU back up the table. The latter could be a very important result down the line as the Cougars chase a national seed. Wazzu did just enough to keep the Buffs off the board while getting a career day from Cara Wegner and Kourtney Guetlein, with two goals and two assists respectively, while Micaela Castain also netted her eleventh of the year. It’s a good omen against a Utah side that’s been pretty good defensively while struggling on the offensive side of the ball. With Oregon State and Arizona following this one, WSU has a solid chance to build momentum ahead of a big finish to the regular season.

Despite a 2-1-1 record in the Pac-12 thus far, you get the sense that Utah might be in a bit of trouble, with their RPI dragging them away from the bubble. The loss to bubble rival Washington on Friday certainly isn’t going to help their cause, even with draws against Kentucky and Cal working in their favor. The draw with UC Davis seems to be an anchor around their neck right now, though it’s probably a good thing the Utes have the matches with the Oregon schools and their poor RPIs out of the way. There’s plenty of chances for the Utes to pick up a marquee win down the stretch, it’s just a matter of sealing the deal now. Utah’s four league matches have been decided by a goal or have been a draw, so the Utes have definitely been in everything the past few weeks. But the offense fired blanks against Washington on Friday and had trouble corralling Lindsay Elston, who finished with four shots on goal. The winner came off a rocket from Havana McElvaine though, and Utah couldn’t find a response in the second half. It was the fifth time the club has been shutout, and Utah hasn’t scored multiple goals in five games, which can’t be too promising a statistic considering the defenses aren’t going to get easier to breach down the stretch. The next two are brutal after this one, with a trip to Stanford before UCLA comes to town, meaning anything Utah can come away with from their visit to Pullman could have a huge impact on their postseason fate.

(52) Washington vs (33) Colorado – 3:00 PM

Back from the dead, Washington have turned their NCAA Tournament fortunes on their head in less than a week. The draw on the road to UCLA might as well be a golden ticket to the NCAA Tournament if the Huskies can stay at .500 and in the bubble frame, while a win over bubble rival Utah on Friday provides a little insurance. The Huskies were largely ineffectual during a horrid 1-4-0 opening to the season but have gone 5-1-2 since, with the draw to UCLA capping off a fantastic revival in Seattle. A dud against Utah would’ve drained away much of that positive momentum, but the Huskies battled doggedly before getting a goal of the year contender from Havana McElvaine to gain three big points at home on Friday. Lindsay Elston had a productive offensive game as well, while the defense, backed up by the rapidly improving Megan Kufeld in goal, pitched their third straight clean sheet in the league. It’s been a mighty impressive showing for the defense considering some of the injuries that have plagued the club and probably bodes well for the rest of the league season. The Colorado offense has been defanged a bit with Brie Hooks’ injury, but the likes of Anne Stuller and co. still pack enough punch that UW can’t lose focus. Another win over a potential bubble rival would certainly keep the good feeling flowing as the club preps for a big final five games against most of the league’s title contenders.

Opponents Colorado were put to the sword mercilessly by Washington State in Pullman on Friday afternoon. The Buffs have been very good this season, already having won their most games in a season since 2008, but when things have gone wrong, they’ve usually gone very wrong, with all three of their losses coming by multiple goals, with the Buffs putting up a bagel on the scoreboard each time. The Buffs weren’t exactly outclassed on the pitch, but the offense bogged down, with WSU being quite ruthless in front of goal to run away with the three points. The continued absence of freshman phenom Brie Hooks continues to gnaw at the club’s attack, placing a whole lot of pressure on Anne Stuller to lead the line up top. In some cases, CU hasn’t missed much of a beat, such as in the two home wins against the Oregon schools last weekend. In other cases, like Friday, it’s left the Buffs with an uphill climb. The Buffs are largely banking on their early win against Colorado College to keep them out of bubble trouble, but that hardly seems like the soundest strategy considering some of the results potential bubble rivals are racking up in recent weeks. Defeat here would likely see CU slip onto the bubble, and regardless of Sunday’s result, you sense the Buffs might need one or two more big results to feel totally safe come Selection Monday.

(37) Pepperdine vs (31) Portland – 4:00 PM

In a big few days for the still embryonic WCC title race, Santa Clara struck a big blow for their hopes by topping BYU on Saturday, putting the pressure on these two to earn maximum points on Sunday afternoon. The home side will be wanting to make the most of the last game of a six match homestand before finishing up the regular season with five of seven away from Malibu. The Waves also have quite a bit of work to do if they’re to navigate themselves away from the bubble, with the club’s season opening draw with Cal the only result worthy of much attention right now, though the win at Texas A&M could be noteworthy later in the season. Still stinging a bit in all likelihood from a damaging 1-1 draw with Cal State Fullerton, Pepperdine made a winning, if not necessarily overwhelming, start to league play on Friday by edging past Gonzaga, 1-0. Lynn Williams continued to post ridiculous stat lines, putting up another eight shots and three on goal, including the match’s only goal. The three-headed attacking monster of Williams, Kristen Rodriguez, and Michelle Pao has the potential to gobble up many opposing defenses, though some might note the Waves have multiple goals in just one of their last four. Sunday would be a fine time for a breakthrough though, as the Waves look to maintain a WCC title challenge while firming up their position in the field of sixty-four for November.

Since Portland’s second half meltdown against Wake Forest, the Pilots have been rolling, winning seven straight to take their record to an impressive 10-1-1. Of course, UP’s only faced one team in he uRPI Top 100 since then, Washington (#50), and that may not be a proper comparison to the likes of BYU, Santa Clara, or Sunday’s opponent. The Pilots will probably be happy that this is the end of a grueling four game road stretch, with the club finishing up with five of six at home in a league slate that should give them a big advantage in their pursuit of a WCC title. Defense ended up ruling the day, as has been the case for UP on this road trip, with the club keeping its third straight clean sheet after three straight games where they had conceded. To be truthful though, it was largely a turgid affair last time out against Loyola Marymount, with just five shots on goal combined, including zero in the first half. They’d net two that found the back of the net in the second half though, with Amanda Frisbie netting from the spot and Emily Sippel making it safe near the end. The Pilots have hardly impressed in early WCC play on the offensive side of the ball against two of the league’s weakest teams, and it doesn’t seem likely the club will be able to run and gun with the Waves on their home pitch. That means it’ll be up to the defense to put the clamps on Pepperdine’s dangerous attack in Malibu. While Portland should be safe from bubble trouble thanks to early season results, they’re going to need some big wins down the stretch to get back into the national seed mix, with a win against the Waves being a pretty good start in that respect.

Other Matches To Watch:

(62) Baylor vs (41) Texas Tech – 2:00 PM – Baylor’s at-large bid hopes look to be on fumes at this point after three straight losses that have seen the defense get shredded. Opponents Texas Tech are nowhere near safe despite a 13-1-1 record and would do well to take the chance to knock off a potential bubble rival.

This entry was posted in NCAA Women's Soccer on by Chris Henderson.

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