Week 6 saw the first two-game weekend in SEC play and all seven teams playing on the road in the second leg of the Friday/Sunday stretch lost. Out West, the Pac-12 opened their regular season, in the middle of the nation the Big 12 saw some top-ranked teams shaken up and the ACC chugged along on the East Coast with the Cavaliers leading the charge:
Virginia (1, 11-0-0, 5-0 ACC) – The Cavaliers came from two down to defeat Duke 3-2 in Durham and did just enough to get by Maryland in a 1-0 win at home.
For the third game in a row, top-ranked Virginia had to come from behind on the road to pull out a win, but the Cavaliers’ blitzed the Blue Devils for two quick goals minutes into the start of the second half to draw level. Gloria Douglas waited for the perfect time to score her first of the season, netting the game-winner in the 80th minute to further frustrate the down-trodden Duke side.
The No. 1 team in the nation returned home on Sunday to face a Maryland side that had just been on the receiving end of a five-goal Notre Dame beating. It took a while for the Cavalier offense to get going, with the home side getting their first quality chance fifteen minutes in as Gloria Douglas collected a ball on the far side of the box from a corner kick, unleashing a wicked shot that had Maryland keeper Rachel Beanlands at full stretch to deny the opportunity. The Cavaliers were right back in front of the goal immediately afterward, again through Douglas, who was wide open on the left side of the box, but got caught in two minds as the Terrapin defense closed on her and missed the chance to take her shot. As the half wore on, Virginia began to find more space for their passing game in the tired Terp backfield, leading to another goal-scoring opportunity as a direct through-ball from Morgan Brian found Brittany Ratcliffe in space and running onto goal, but the freshman put her shot wide of the far post. Despite taking 10 shots in the half, the major criticism would have been that all the shots on target were straight at Beanlands. Virginia did finally break through, though, with 22 seconds left as a 40-yard slaloming run through the midfield took Ratcliffe around the Terp defenders, putting her in on goal where she chipped the ball just over Beanlands at the near post for a well-deserved, well-worked goal.
Virginia have one game this week on Sunday as they welcome a Clemson side to Charlottesville that just surprised the country in a hard-fought draw against No. 3 FSU.
Stanford (2, 8-0-1, 1-0 Pac-12) – Stanford beat Colorado 2-0 on the road to open their Pac-12 season.
The Cardinal needed a pair of second-half goals from their offensive leaders to get past a tough Colorado team that lost only their second game of the year. After a tight first half that saw each team take only three shots apiece, Courtney Verloo picked up where she left off in Santa Clara, scoring on a blistering 20-yarder in the 57th minute that proved too powerful for the outstretched mitts of Buffs’ keeper Annie Brunner. Stanford preserved their lead a minute later as Colorado’s Anne Stoller headed a shot past Jane Campbell, but it was cleared off the line by a Cardinal defender. Verloo contributed to the scoring again 10 minutes later when her pass across the face of goal connected with a wide-open Taylor Uhl who easily slotted home her team-leading ninth goal in as many games.
Stanford return home to the Farm to face Arizona on Friday and Arizona State on Sunday.
Florida State (3, 9-0-3, 4-0-2 ACC) – FSU bullied Miami in a 4-0 victory in Coral Gables, then tied Clemson 1-1 on the road.
A brace from Iceland’s Berglind Thorvaldsdottir was more than enough for the Seminoles on Thursday as the FSU defense stone-walled the ‘Canes, allowing only one shot all night and that coming in the 78th minute when the game was well out of reach. Midfielders Jamia Fields and Carson Pickett had two assists each and Nickolette Driesse picked up her team-leading fifth of the season. The four-goal outburst marks only the second time the Seminoles have scored that many this season and the first time they have scored more than two since the game against Florida in August.
Unfortunately, the goal well dried up on Sunday when they needed it as a road trip to Clemson ended in a 1-1 draw, FSU’s third tie of the season. The Tigers took a surprise lead 10 minutes into the first half when Vanessa Laxgang broke through the Seminole backline, striking a superb half-volley off an over-the-top pass from Claire Wagner at the center line. Clemson rode the lead capably, even controlling much of thee second half, in an increasingly-physical contest. A late spell of pressure for the Seminoles eventually led to the equalizer with four minutes left as a cross by Driesse past the face of goal went through the hands of the Tiger keeper where Dagny Brynjarsdottir collected it on the far side and easily passed into the open goal. The overtime periods were devoid of any notable offense as Clemson registered the only shot of the final 20 and both teams settled with a point each.
On Thursday, the Seminoles host a Boston College side that plays Top 10 teams surprisingly well, before traveling to New York to take on ACC new kids Syracuse.
UCLA (4, 9-1-0, 1-0 Pac-12) – The Bruins rolled to their fifth-straight win, beating Arizona on the road 2-1.
The Bruins opened their Pac-12 season with a road win against Arizona. UCLA commanded possession in the game, taking the lead five minutes in as forward Taylor Smith dribbled into the right side of the box, creating enough space to fire her shot just inside the far post. It took nearly 30 minutes for the Bruins to get their second with Smith again figuring into the scoring. As the sophomore made a penetrating run through the Arizona box, she dished the ball back to Sam Mewis who calmly one-timed it from the center of the box. The one blot on the game would be the Wildcats’ goal six minutes later as Arizona’s Hannah Wong got between the UCLA centerbacks who couldn’t put her off the ball in time to stop a quick strike past Katelyn Rowland.
The Bruins host the Washingtons next weekend with the Cougars on Friday and the Huskies on Monday.
Notre Dame (5, 9-1-0, 5-0 ACC) – The Irish continued their tear through the ACC, shutting out No. 21 Maryland 5-0 on Thursday and Pitt 3-0 on Sunday.
Coming off a victory over Wake Forest the previous week, the Terrapins should have been a tough test for Notre Dame, but the Irish just shoved them out of the way, rolling to their fifth consecutive win and posting their sixth clean sheet of the season. Cari Roccaro featured as a forward for the first time this season and made Randy Waldrum look a genius, netting her first, second and third goals of the year.
Sunday’s game against Pitt was fairly lopsided with the Irish going up early in a first half that saw the Irish take a 16-0 advantage in shots. Panther keeper Nicole D’Agostino was tested all day and had to make a number of saves early on as Notre Dame pinned Pitt back from the outset. Lauren Bohaboy got the Irish on the board first after a loose ball inside the box started a minor frenzy to move the ball one way or the other. Bohaboy eventually tapped it in from close range, giving the Irish the lead 19 minutes in. Although they weren’t able to put any of the other seven shots in the half past D’Agostino, Notre Dame came out with a purpose after halftime and immediately doubled the lead less than a minute in. Cari Roccaro, working outside the perimeter of the box, blasted a shot that found just enough space above the keeper’s fingers and beneath the bar to net her fourth of the weekend. Continuing to bomb the goal mouth in the second half, Notre Dame put up 16 more shots to further worry D’Agostino who recorded 10 saves on the day (and, indicative of Pitt’s 0-5 start to the ACC season, this was D’Agostino’s fourth straight 10-save performance). Mandy Laddish capped the scoring in the 64th minute, driving through the midfield off a pass from Roccaro, the senior unleashed her shot from the top center of the box, placing it just under the diving keeper. On the defensive side, the team recorded its seventh clean sheet of the year and fourth in a row. The Irish have yet to allow more than one goal in a game, bringing keeper Kaela Little’s GAA down to a microscopic 0.42.
Notre Dame stays in South Bend to host Wake Forest on Thursday, then make the long trek to Coral Gables where they will take on Miami.
North Carolina (6, 9-2-0, 3-2 ACC) – A modest 1-0 scoreline was enough to clear Pitt on Thursday in the Tar Heels’ only game of the week.
A win’s a win, but this one’s a head-scratcher, for sure, as the Tar Heels registered 34 shots against the Big East transplants, but only managed to get one of those in the net. Paige Nielsen’s goal in the 9th minute was enough to secure the points, but Nicole D’Agostino and the Pitt defense held fast through the Tar Heel barrage for the remaining 81 minutes.
Back to Chapel Hill this week, UNC has Maryland and NC State next up on the calendar.
Florida (7, 8-2-1, 2-1 SEC) – Battered Ole Miss 4-1 in Friday’s contest, but lost their first SEC game of the season in a shocking 0-1 loss away at Missouri.
Until SEC opponents find a way to deal with Savannah Jordan’s dominating physical presence up top for the Gators, there will be more scorelines like Friday’s result out of Oxford. The freshman continued a ridiculous rookie season, scoring in the fourth minute to put Florida in the lead for her 11th of the season. The Rebels looked like an early dark horse pick in the SEC, coming into the game against Florida with a record of 8-1-1 on the strength of scoring tandem Rafaelle Souza and Mandy McCalla, but Florida’s defense kept the pair relatively neutralized with two and one shots on the night, respectively. Jordan was involved on the second score in the 13th minute as the Ole Miss defense scurried to collapse on the forward driving into the box, only to kick the ball into the path of Pamela Begic who easily polished off the gift. The Gators executed a beautiful passing sequence two minutes later as Claire Falknor made a darting run through the midfield, passing the ball ahead to Jordan waiting at the edge of the box. Jordan quickly dropped it back to Begic who then hoofed the ball over everyone right to Falknor who had continued her run in behind the Ole Miss backline, giving her acres of space and time in which to shoot.
At .500 going into Sunday’s match, Missouri haven’t really blown anyone away this season, seemingly settling in as a mid-table SEC team, so their home victory over the Gators is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Florida were down in the first half on Sunday as the Gator defense flubbed a clearance which allowed Missouri forward Kaysie Clark through the backline for an easy shot over Nora Neset Gjoen. A weak penalty call in the 29th minute gave Mizzou the opportunity to really put some distance on the board, but, as so often happens on bad penalty calls, the ball pinged off the post to keep it at 1-0. Florida had a number of chances in the second half as Mizzou dropped back to defend, putting up ten shots with many close opportunities going off or just past the frame, but the ball just wouldn’t fall their way as sighs of relief went out from College Station to Columbia.
The Gators return to Florida this weekend with games against No. 22 South Carolina and Auburn.
Penn State (8, 9-1-1, 3-0 Big 10) – Routed Purdue 6-1 on Friday and encored with a 4-1 victory over Indiana Sunday.
Purdue offset an early Penn State goal in the first half before the Nittany Lions exploded in a 6-1 rout. Raquel Rodriguez opened the scoring six minutes into the game, but, when Purdue leveled less than 10 minutes later, it looked like the Lions were again going to have another tough battle on their hands similar to last weeks’ contest against Northwestern. It took a tense 20 minutes, but Penn State eventually removed any doubt of that possibility off Kori Chapic’s header in the 37th minute. An own-goal just before the half sent the Lions into the locker room up 3-1 and the team doubled the goals in the second half as a different player scored on five of the days’ six goals.
Sunday’s game played out much the same as the Purdue game, with PSU going up in the first half off a goal from Raquel Rodriguez. Not entirely surprising for a team that has only posted two clean sheets all season, the home side allowed the Hoosiers back into the contest 25 minutes in as the defense gave up a goal for the fifth straight game. Tied 1-1 at the half, the Penn State offense took the game by the scruff of the neck, putting up three unanswered goals in the second 45. Maya Hayes capped the scoring, netting her second of the weekend and 12th of the season as the senior forward has scored in all but one of PSU’s 11 games this year.
In the coming week, the Lions play back-to-back road games against two of their toughest opponents, #18 Wisconsin and Minnesota, before returning home the next weekend to face Michigan.
Wake Forest (9, 8-2-1, 2-2-1 ACC) – Lost away to Boston College 0-1 and beat Syracuse 1-0 on Sunday.
It seemed BC was destined to take down a Top 10 opponent some time this year after going up on both No. 2 Stanford and No. 1 Virginia. Thursday it was the Deacons’ turn to try to get a result off the Eagles, but Wake’s offense never got off the bus, managing a lone shot on goal while Boston College harassed Deacs keeper Aubrey Bledsoe with nine on target, including McKenzie Meehan’s 23rd minute game-winner.
Sunday’s match against Syracuse was hardly a walk-over as Riley Ridgik’s 10th-minute header, her second game-winner of the season, was the only difference between No. 9 Wake and an Orange side that came in on a six-game winless streak. With only three shots on goal, including the score, and eight shots taken from eight different players, the Wake offense seem to be in a valley again as they face their toughest opponents in the next two games.
Thursday the Demon Deacons head out to South Bend where a win against No. 5 Notre Dame could revitalize their title aspirations.
Georgetown (10, 9-0-2, 1-0-1 Big East) – Opened their Big East season with a 1-1 draw against DePaul on Thursday then flattened Xavier 7-1.
The Hoyas stumbled straight out of the gate in their conference opener against the Blue Demons, taking just one point at home in spite of a heavy offensive advantage. This year’s realigned Big East lost some of the Hoyas’ stiffest challengers, but DePaul let them know early in the contest that this season still won’t be a cake walk, going up a goal off Ashleigh Goddard’s second-minute strike. The Hoyas pressed hard in the second half and leveled the score in the 58th minute off Mary Kroening’s header. Georgetown had a chance to take the lead as a handball inside the box set up a penalty kick for Daphne Corboz. Blue Demons’ keeper Alejandria Godinez was having a career day in net, though, making 14 saves including a block on the PK as well as the rebound. Godinez made her conclusive save with seconds on the clock in double-overtime to end the match in a draw, despite the Hoyas’ 26-5 advantage in shots.
Sunday the Hoyas found all the goals they were missing in the previous game as they hit the back of the net seven times against Xavier. Corboz had three assists, giving her a total of five in four games and defender Marina Paul scored a brace. Another goal off a header from Mary Kroening jumpstarted the Hoyas’ scoring in the 34th minute as the home side launched an astonishing 40 shots on the day. The lofty scoring output raised the Hoyas’ average goals to 3.45 per game, best in the country ahead of both Virginia and Penn State at number two.
Georgetown head to Indianapolis next to play Butler on Thursday, then move on to Rhode Island to play Providence at the end of the weekend.
Cal (11, 6-0-3, 0-0-1 Pac-12) – Settled for a goalless draw on Friday against Utah in their Pac-12 opener and won a non-conference game against the Dons of San Francisco on Monday 3-0.
Baylor (12, 8-1-2, 1-1 Big 12) – Baylor shut out Oklahoma in a 1-0 victory on Friday, the team’s fifth consecutive clean sheet and ninth of the season. Sunday’s contest against No. 23 West Virginia was a different animal altogether as the Mountaineers scored four, the highest total scored against the Bears since 2009, in one of the most exciting games of the weekend. West Virginia landed the first punch, capitalizing on an uncharacteristic mistake in the defense which allowed Mountaineer Kelsie Maloney through the backfield for a nice shot over diving Bear keeper Michelle Koss. WVU scored two more times, putting Baylor down by three with a half hour to go, but the Bears mustered a quick turnaround, first off a 68th minute goal from Lindsay Burns, then another eight minutes later from Bri Campos. The Mountaineers struck back less than two minutes later when Cari Price scored off a header to restore the two-goal advantage to move the yardstick a little further back for the Bears. With a handful of seconds on the clock, Baylor drove along the endline and into the box, pressuring the West Virginia defense into committing a foul, but the referee controversially judged that it had been outside the box. The Bears converted anyway, albeit from a more acute angle than the deserved PK, as defender Taylor Heatherly headed the chipped ball into the net as the last seconds of the half ebbed away, closing out the game in a hard-fought 3-4 loss, the Bears’ first defeat this season.
Michigan (13, 7-2-1, 1-1-1 Big 10) – It was a weekend to forget in Ann Arbor as the Wolverines dropped points at home, drawing 0-0 with No. 18 Wisconsin and losing 0-1 to Minnesota.
Portland (14, 6-1-1) – Picking up their fourth and fifth consecutive wins since their unlikely meltdown against Wake Forest, the Pilots defeated Wyoming 4-2 and Washington 3-0. Amanda Frisbie and Micaela Capelle each had three goals across the two games while freshman Allison Wetherington had three assists over the weekend.
Texas Tech (15, 10-1-1, 1-0-1 Big 12) – Conference play began for the Red Raiders as they won their opener against Iowa State 2-1, then settled for a 0-0 draw with Oklahoma State.
Virginia Tech (16, 9-1-2, 4-1-1 ACC) – The Hokies continue to cruise below the radar amongst their marquee ACC stablemates. Va Tech handled NC State easily in a 4-1 victory on Thursday in Raleigh, before moving on to Durham, where they added to Duke’s misery with a 1-1 draw.
BYU (17, 5-2-1) – The weather was appropriately cold and dreary at South Field on Thursday as the Cougars continued a downward slide that has seen them drop from a preseason No. 6 down toward the back of the Top 25 with a late 0-1 loss to Denver. Of the last five games, BYU have lost three (all by 0-1, including Thursday’s deflating loss with less than three minutes on the clock and an earlier loss to UC Irvine with seconds left in regulation), drawn one, and won one (in which they were down by two goals before scoring three unanswered to save a major embarrassment). With over a week to recover, the Cougars go on the road to Texas to face No. 12 Baylor for their last pre-conference game before the WCC schedule gets underway.
Wisconsin (18, 7-1-2, 2-0-1 Big 10) – The Badgers had a goalless draw against No. 13 Michigan on Friday and beat the Spartans of Michigan State 2-0 on Sunday. They’ll have a chance to build on the away result against the Wolverines as they host perennial league champs Penn State on Friday.
Denver (19, 9-1-1) – The Pioneers got back in the winning saddle after last week’s disheartening loss, beating BYU in Provo on Thursday 1-0 and UC Santa Barbara 2-1 on Sunday in California. Nicholette DiGiacomo provided the heroics at Brigham Young, scoring with three minutes left in regulation after she drifted beyond the BYU defense to slot home a Kristen Hamilton pass, stunning the home crowd. On Sunday, a goal off a penalty kick in the 76th minute broke a 1-1 deadlock in Santa Barbara, wrapping up a two-win weekend as Denver begins Summit League play this week.
Santa Clara (20, 4-3-1) – Coming off a tiring weekend that saw the team take one point from two grueling double-overtime games against Cal and Stanford, Santa Clara got back to the business of winning before settling in for next week’s West Coast Conference games. Friday the Broncos played Kansas to a 3-2 win at home with Sofia Huerta striking for the first goal with just under five minutes played, only to see the Jayhawks draw level less than a minute later. The Broncos would retake the lead as Huerta sent a corner to the far post where Johnston towered above the crowd to stick the ball in goal. Huerta added to the lead in the second half as she converted a PK after being taken down in the box. Santa Clara picked up another win on Sunday as they dominated Cal Poly, taking five times as many shots as the visiting Mustangs in a 4-0 victory. Possibly more encouraging than the offensive outburst, the Broncos kept a clean sheet for the first time in five games since they blanked Maryland at the beginning of the month.
Maryland (21, 6-5-0, 2-3 ACC) – Maryland lost to Notre Dame by a shocking 0-5 margin on Thursday, but the team bounced back to put in a gritty, determined effort against No. 1 Virginia in a rematch of last year’s ACC Tournament Final. On defense for most of the first 45, Hayley Brock had one of the few key chances in the half with 13 minutes left as she sprang into the box off a counter-attack, but was stumped by the Virginia defender just as she went to release her shot, putting it straight into the arms of Morgan Stearns. The Virginia back four had a difficult time dealing with Brock’s speed and a minute later the Terps’ forward broke past the defense again, but put her shot just over the bar. In the second half, Brock had another golden chance as a long pass found her in the box amongst several UVa defenders where she cut to the side for a glimmer of space, but hit her quick shot off the crossbar. Maryland’s defense had a strong showing in spite of the dominant Virginia possession, often staying compact in the box and stymieing the Cavaliers when they tried to encroach upon the goal. Maryland’s final chance came with eight seconds on the clock as Brock again tried to break through the defense but was tackled 30 yards. The foul led to a dangerous free kick, but the Terrapins were unable to capitalize as the ball lofted into the box but was headed out harmlessly to end the game.
South Carolina (22, 9-1-1, 2-1 SEC) – The Gamecocks began the trek back up the charts following last week’s loss to Georgia with a pair of home victories over Auburn and Arkansas. Danielle Au scored in the 7th minute in the Auburn game to put South Carolina up and Stevi Parker doubled it a full 60 minutes later, leading the Gamecocks to a 2-1 win. A tougher Arkansas team came into Columbia on Sunday, but the home side returned to its fine defensive form, allowing the Razorbacks a solitary shot on goal en route to their eighth shutout of the season in a 1-0 victory. The coming week will likely be the hardest of the season for the Gamecocks, as they hit the road to face Tennessee and Florida.
West Virginia (23, 8-2-2, 2-0 Big 12) – Tried and tested through a difficult pre-conference schedule, the steely Mountaineers have emerged to string together four straight wins, going on the road to beat Oklahoma State and No. 12 Baylor over the weekend. The game against OSU featured goals from Kate Schwindel and Kelsie Maloney as the Mountaineers outshot the home team 21-5. Sunday’s game against Baylor was a bruising contest between the two ranked teams with the Mountaineers finally gaining the advantage when a defensive miscue saw Maloney speed through the backfield for a one-on-one with onrushing keeper Michelle Kloss for the first goal. West Virginia goalkeeper Sara Keane kept her team in the lead in the 33rd minute after defender Jess Crowder’s handball while guarding the near post on a throw-in led to a penalty kick which Keane coolly blocked. Crowder had a chance to save the day a minute later as she swooped in to clear another ball off the line after it had bypassed Keane and was headed for the back of the net. With less than 4 minutes left in the half, Mountaineer forward Schwindel took an over-the-top ball from the left side in stride to loft it from distance over the keepers’ head, putting West Virginia up by two over a previously water-tight Baylor D which had only allowed one goal through the prior ten games. Already establishing herself as one of the best centerbacks in the game, Canadian Kadeisha Buchanan added her first collegiate goal in the 60th minute, before Baylor put up two of their own to set up a dramatic finish.
Mississippi (24, 9-2-1, 2-1 SEC) – Friday’s 1-4 home loss to No. 7 Florida might have diminished potential delusions of grandeur coming out of Oxford this season. After the Gators’ opening goal, Ole Miss had a chance to quickly equalize when a corner kick found Samantha Sanders at point blank range in front of the net where a forward touch in any direction but straight up would’ve gone in, but the shot improbably launched well over the net. Shortly after, the Gators turned on the jets and by the time the Rebels did get their first goal, they were digging out of a three-goal hole. On Sunday, it seems no one bothered to tell the Rebels shooting practice was over and the actual game had started as Ole Miss lit up a not-this-bad Auburn side in a 7-0 trouncing. Mandy McCalla and Bethany Bunker each scored a pair while Rafaelle Souza had three assists despite, improbably enough, never taking a shot the entire match.
Kentucky (25, 8-2-1, 2-1 SEC) – Into the Top 25 for the first time this season, the Wildcats had a down-and-up weekend, losing Friday’s contest 0-3 against an Arkansas team that held this same No. 25 position two weeks ago. Kentucky rebounded well, though, with a red-hot 9-1 Georgia coming into Lexington on Sunday. With one day’s rest for each side, it was a typical SEC Sunday matchup with much of the play taking place in the middle third as dangerous chances and creativity were at a premium. After a first half that featured no corner kicks for either side and just two shots on goal, both by Kentucky, the second half livened up a little with a few close chances by both sides. It would be the home side that would finally win the battle, after a cross by Kentucky into the box made its rounds amongst the Wildcats before finally settling in front of Stuart Pope who drove a low ball across the wet grass from the top of the box for her ninth goal of the season and the game’s only score. The 1-0 victory broke Georgia’s nine-game win streak while giving the Wildcats their eighth win in nine games.
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