Christen Press – The Answer To Unlocking UNC’s Defense?
All Times Listed are Eastern.
North Carolina vs Stanford (6:00)
Perhaps you’ve heard about this one. You could spin this one many ways, a rematch of last year’s national title match, a #1 vs. #2 showdown, or maybe another notch in each team’s early non-conference gauntlet. There are many angles within the match itself. The inexperienced hands of Anna Sieloff vs the tested Kira Maker. Dunn, Wood, and Givan (maybe) in the UNC defense vs Press, Taylor, and Payne up front for the Cardinal. The Cardinal defense vs UNC’s young forward corp. The battle within the midfield and the tactical duel between Dorrance and Ratcliffe on the bench. It could be 0-0, it could be 4-4 (please, let it be 4-4), but it won’t be lacking in intrigue. Nobody would blink if we saw these two play again in December.
Duke vs Missouri (4:00 in Chapel Hill, NC)
North Carolina and Stanford may be the mother of all early season Heavyweight Showdowns, but there’s one hell of an undercard beforehand with Duke set to take on Missouri. Styles make fights and they make soccer matches also, with Duke’s strong defense and unproven offense against Missouri’s “score one more than you concede” attitude. The Tigers don’t seem to have changed a bit if their contest against Maryland last weekend is anything to judge by. Watching them attack Duke’s stalwart defense should make fascinating viewing before the big show.
UConn vs William and Mary (5:00 in State College, PA)
Just what is it with the Huskies and slip-ups to minnows early on these days? Central Connecticut State a few seasons ago and now UConn somehow contrived to lose to Siena in extra time. With Virginia and Penn State coming up, it’s safe to say if the Huskies don’t get a result, they could be in a hole going into Big East play. William & Mary have been on a little bit of a downward slide in recent years, but are still plenty good to give UConn a good game.
Purdue vs Miami (FL) (5:30)
A (very early) bubble game? This is one of the last real opportunities for the Hurricanes to add to their resume before the ACC season kicks in. Purdue shot itself in the foot with a loss to Toledo to open the year last Friday. Another home defeat to a middling team could send alarms wailing in West Lafayette.
Colorado College vs Dayton (6:00)
An early season showdown of mid-major spoilers that could have important ramifications down the line. The Tigers bring back Brittney Lyman and Tiffany Brown to spearhead a productive offense which will be needed against a Dayton team that looks to be doing it with defense again after conceding one goal on the opening weekend.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee vs New Mexico (6:00 on Marquette’s Campus)
With this match being played in Milwaukee, it’s a de facto home game for UWM despite being played on Marquette’s campus. This is a showdown between two of the most impressive mid-majors of week one. The Panthers stunned Ohio State in Columbus while New Mexico punished Nebraska, 3-0. How are the Lobos going to stop Sarah Hagen? The winner of this match will have a nice feather in their cap come Selection Monday.
Cal vs Santa Clara (7:00)
A pair of schools with less than ideal starts to the 2010 season. Santa Clara struggled with a weakened San Diego State team and needed a late comeback to down minnows San Jose State. Cal got past Loyola Marymount but then were held to a draw despite two goals from Alex Morgan after conceding a late equalizer. The Bears should be slight favorites, but a loss on home turf could dampen the newfound spirit of camaraderie in Berkley.
Kentucky vs Indiana (7:00)
Wildcat fans could breathe a small sigh of relief after the season debut of their team in the second year of Jon Lipsitz’s reign in Lexington. While Big Blue faced what appears to be a pretty awful Coastal Carolina team (they were smashed by NC State later in the week), the four goal haul had to be music to Wildcat fans’ ears after a fitful 2009 in front of goal. Indiana promises to be a much stiffer test, the Hoosiers had an easy go of it against Evansville in their opener. This is a pretty good measuring stick game for both sides.
Penn State vs Virginia (7:30)
Penn State has to be feeling reasonably confident after edging their way past West Virginia on the road in their season opener. Virginia hammered a pair of minnows to open their campaign, hardly a great indicator of future success. But the Cavs were powering in the goals left and right, last weekend, showing at least that the forwards are on form. Stopping Penn State’s forwards is another thing entirely and should be a great challenge for a normally stout Virginia defense. Penn State are also likely out for a little revenge after last year’s 6-2 NCAA Tournament reverse against the Cavs.
South Carolina vs Louisville (7:30)
If South Carolina wants to prove that they aren’t going to miss a beat without Blakely Mattern and Kim Miller, these are the types of matches they simply can’t afford to drop. The Gamecocks have their next six matches at The Graveyard, and have a realistic chance of being 8-0 heading into a crunch match at Wake Forest. On the other hand, Louisville can prove that they are back on the upswing with an upset here.
Tennessee vs Maryland (8:00)
Gutcheck game. The Vols took a nice first step in banishing the demons of 2009 with a dominating performance against Western Kentucky, a team they had lost to in the spring. Maryland squashed Iona before beating Missouri in a thriller. Tennessee would be able to put the rest of the SEC on notice with a win here. If Maryland is who we think they are, they should be able to sweep the Vols aside with minimal difficulty. Probably one of the more underrated clashes of the evening.
Vanderbilt vs Minnesota (8:00)
Not a game Minnesota wants to lose, given that Vandy figures to be in mid-table or worse in the SEC. The Gophers didn’t show up against Georgia last year in a clash in SEC territory and it cost them big at the end of the year. A senior laden Commodore team is not an easy W for Minnesota though, especially since the battle will be in Nashville. Both teams should be confident coming in with Vandy having drilled UAB and Minnesota having given Notre Dame a good game in South Bend.
Wisconsin vs UCLA (8:00)
Wisconsin had a nice little warm up against Wisconsin-Green Bay lined up that was cancelled due to inclement weather. UCLA is no warm-up. The Badgers face a whale of a task against a Bruins team that hit Cal Poly for seven goals in their season debut. The Badgers kept it tight at the back last season and will have to do so once more against UCLA’s Sydney Leroux and co. if they are to stand a chance. A Wisconsin win, unlikely as it might seem right now, would see their odds for getting to the College Cup shorten significantly.
Marquette vs Auburn (8:30)
A battle between two sides desperate to get out of the “above average” categorization. Marquette had a much tougher test against Ohio State last weekend while Auburn were pummeling Tennessee Tech. Both teams feature players among the best in their conference, with Marquette showcasing goalkeeper Natalie Kulla and Auburn featuring midfielder Katy Frierson.
Texas A&M vs Virginia Tech (9:00)
A&M will probably be trying to wash away the stench of the North Carolina failure for a while yet, and anyone in their path figures to suffer their wrath as a result. St. John’s were the first to be put to the sword, and the Aggies now have Virginia Tech lined up in their sights. The Hokies figure to be tougher opponents, with many more offensive weapons to test A&M’s defense with, but Dayle Colpitts figures to be a busy figure in goal herself for Virginia Tech.