These Crucial Contests Will Impact Conference And National Standing
Florida State (8-0-2) vs. Virginia (10-1-1) – Thursday – Charlottesville – This is the marquee game of the week.
Both Virginia and Florida State have explosive high-powered offenses that are capable of scoring multiple goals in a short span of time. That means that no lead is safe in this one and that lapses in play will be hazardous. Both teams have also been solid on the defensive side of the ball allowing a total of only four goals on the season against a tough slate of opponents.
Florida State is unbeaten through ten games but Virginia on the road is by far the toughest challenge the Seminoles have faced so far this year. This contest will provide a lot of insight into just how competitive this FSU team is under Brian Pensky.
Both teams will apply pressure so it will come down to which side does the better job of handling it. This one falls into the something must give category and should be exciting from start to finish.
Both have several players with big play ability but chances are pretty good that junior forward Jody Brown (3g, 5a) and graduate student midfielder Clara Robbins (3g, 2a) will factor into the outcome for FSU and that graduate student forward Haley Hopkins (8g, 2a) and that junior midfielder Lia Godfrey (5g, 3a) will do the same for Virginia.
Mississippi (9-1-2) vs Alabama (11-1-1) – Thursday – Tuscaloosa – This Alabama team is for real but they have a small margin for error in this one. The Tide entered the season with a ton of momentum and a lot of returning players. The foundation for the success they are having this year was put in place during the 2021 season during which they won eleven games including their first ever win in the NCAA Tournament.
Graduate Student forward Riley Mattingly Parker (9g, 2a) and junior midfielder Felicia Knox (3g, 12a) are at the heart of an Alabama attack that will come out on the front foot and seek to control the tempo from the get-go.
This one will hinge on whether the Tide can penetrate a Mississippi defense that has only allowed a total of four goals to date. A stout Rebel defense is anchored by senior backs Taylor Radecki (0g, 8a) and Sydney Michalak and junior Price Loposer and senior goalkeeper Ashley Orkus. Forwards Marykate McGuire (6g, 4a) and Mo O’Connor (5g, 4a) are the top goal scores for an Ole Miss attack that has only managed to score a total of four goals in their last five contests.
Pittsburgh (11-1-0) vs North Carolina (9-3-0) – Thursday – Chapel Hill – The Panthers are off to their best start in program history. You don’t win eleven games without being very good but just how good remains to be seen.
Pitt has solid on the road ACC wins against Virginia Tech 4-1 and Notre Dame 3-1. The Panthers are having a breakthrough season, but they are facing their toughest test of the season with games on the road with the Tar Heels followed by Duke on Sunday.
Pitt comes into the game with an offense that has found the back of the net 40 times and a defense that has only allowed a total of nine goals with three of them coming in a 3-2 loss to VCU back on September 8. Senior forward Leah Pais (7g, 4a) is one of four Pitt players who have found scored five or more goals on the season to date.
North Carolina comes into this one after being upset 2-1 by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The Tar Heels are a dangerous team to face but have inexplicably and uncharacteristically suffered lapses at times in the intensity of their play. UNC will come out on the front foot and place Pitt under pressure to create turnovers that they can exploit.
Look for the first fifteen minutes of the contest to set the pace for the entire match. However, there are no easy games in ACC play so the Tar Heels risk an upset if they don’t put in a full 90 minutes of play.
Wisconsin (10-1-2) vs Northwestern (10-1-2) – Friday – Evanston – Wisconsin is 5-0-0 in Big Ten play. Northwestern is 4-0-1 in Big Ten play. Look for a packed and enthusiastic pro Northwestern crowd to be on hand at Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium for this Big Ten clash.
Wisconsin comes into this one on an eight gave win streak, but they are about to run the gauntlet of Big Ten play with games on the road with Northwestern, Penn State and Rutgers that will tell you a lot about the talent and the mettle of this Badger squad.
Wisconsin showed a lot of grit in their last contest when they scored twice in the final ten minutes to come from behind to top Minnesota 2-1. Prior to that they scored twice in the second half of play to come from behind to top Maryland 2-1. The bottom line is that the Badgers are playing with fire if they continue to put themselves in situations where they must come from behind in their next three contests.
Emma Jaskaniec (10g, 4a) and Natalie Viggiano (5g, 1a) are among the keys on the offensive side of the ball for a Badger attack that is averaging 2.23 goals per game. Defenders sophomore Aidan McConnell (0g, 4a), senior Izzy Verdugo (0g, 2a) and freshman Liv Curry and Graduate Student netminder Erin McKinney are among the key ingredients for Wisconsin on the defensive side of the ball.
Northwestern comes into this one off a convincing 4-0 win over Illinois which extended their unbeaten streak to a program best eleven games. There is a lot to like about this Northwestern team that has a talented midfield that includes junior Josie Aulicino (7g, 6a), senior Aurea del Carmen (4g, 54), freshman Caterina Regazzoni (2g, 2a) and senior Rowan Lapi (4g, 3a).
Northwestern has solid wins over Xavier 2-0 and Stanford 1-0 and a tie with Rutgers 1-1 but they will have to bring their “A” game to defeat a Wisconsin team that matches up well with them.