A Dearth of Big Matches On Sunday Means It’s Alex Morgan Time. Morgan’s Bears Better Not Overlook A Tough Long Beach State Team On Sunday Afternoon.
(Note: Has there EVER been a weaker slate of weekend matches? I had to stretch to find these eleven. Lots of glorified beatings to come on Sunday. All times listed are Eastern.)
Texas vs William & Mary (12:00 in Charlottesville, Virginia)
Texas met reality in a painful way on Friday night, getting blitzed by Virginia at Klockner to the tune of a 4-0 beating. It’s going to be very telling to see how the Longhorns respond to their first setback. Will they fold or will they come back with a vengeance? They’ll not face an easy assignment in a William & Mary side also smarting from their first defeat, a setback against Boston University on Friday. The Tribe probably need some more notches on their belt if they’re to warrant at-large consideration come Selection Monday. Beating Texas will probably go a long way in boosting W&M’s profile.
Duke vs Yale (1:00)
With Yale falling to UConn in mid-week, this match usually wouldn’t have registered on the radar except for Duke crashing to Earth in stunning fashion on Friday in a scoreless draw against Florida International. One has to wonder now if scheduling glorified squash matches against Francis Marion and High Point did much more harm than good for the Blue Devils who couldn’t hit the target against better but still modest opposition. There’s not much modest about the Bulldogs who’ve already shown they’re a match for a team with much better athletes when they stunned Penn State. If Duke sleepwalks again, they’ll be in for a tough time against Yale who feature spark plug attacker Becky Brown, capable of giving any defense a hard time.
Florida State vs Central Florida (1:00)
Florida State appears to have their weakest team in some time after suffering their second extra time defeat in three matches against heated rivals Florida on Friday night on home turf. The Noles needed a late, late equalizer to force that match into extra time which inevitably was in vain as Florida scored quickly after the restart. FSU won’t have fond memories of Sunday’s opponent either, the Seminoles having been felled by Central Florida in Orlando last year in a match that announced the Golden Knights’ arrival on the big stage. UCF has rebounded well after a loss to Florida and could stick a big feather in their cap with a second straight win over Florida State. The home side really need a win over a quality opponent soon if they aren’t to be lumped in with the middling ACC schools this season.
Cal vs Long Beach State (2:00)
Cal are coming off a sensational weekend, winning two matches by a combined score of 12-2. But the Bears have shown a penchant for occasionally slipping up against the odd mid-major team. Long Beach State aren’t just any mid-major team either, but a pretty good one. The 49ers will be desperate to get back on the winning side of the ledger after a close defeat at the hands of St. Mary’s on Friday. Cal forward Alex Morgan is in a rich vein of form and will undoubtedly be looking to extend her run of goals against their state rivals.
Virginia vs Boston University (2:00)
Virginia showed what they’re capable of with a fearsome beating of Texas on Friday. Some had seen the Cavs as preying on the weak earlier in the campaign, putting crooked numbers on teams that just couldn’t compete with the Cavs. But the win over the Horns was an eye opener. There can’t be a let down on Sunday, because Boston has shown that they’re able to give anyone a good game as William & Mary found out in painful fashion on Friday. BU doesn’t have the glitziest won-loss record, but they’ve played a murderous schedule, which should do them a lot of good when America East play comes around.
Wisconsin vs Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2:00)
If Penn State are in the Last Chance Saloon, then are Wisconsin in The Saloon Beyond the Last Chance Saloon? The Badgers would be running away with the dishonor of nation’s most disappointing team if Penn State weren’t in their own death spiral at the moment. The Badgers appear to be severely testing coach Paula Wilkins’ patience if her recent comments are any indication. Her team will need to dig deep to get a result against a Wisconsin-Milwaukee side with offensive weapons to spare. The first goal will be critical. Given the Badgers’ offensive malaise and lack of confidence at the moment, coming from behind may be beyond them.
Georgia vs Santa Clara (2:30 in Palo Alto, California)
Georgia was able to give Stanford a mighty fright on Friday night before Christen Press put on her cape and rescued the Cardinal from a big upset. The Bulldogs will get a second chance to pull off a West Coast upset when they face off with Santa Clara on Sunday afternoon. The Broncos have pretty much bee mired in the “good but not great” category all season, beating who they’re supposed to beat and losing to who they’re supposed to (which basically means Notre Dame so far). How much Georgia still has in the tank after Friday’s Herculean effort remains to be seen but have clearly shown that if they play up to their potential, they can give just about anyone problems.
Washington vs Rutgers (3:00 in Portland, Oregon)
The Huskies used a good start to take down Penn State on Friday and will look to take down their second team of the weekend from the Eastern Time Zone on Sunday. Rutgers gave Portland a game on Friday but were the latest team to fall to some late match heroics from the Pilots. Both of these sides look like prime candidates for being around the bubble come early November, so a win here would be critical to at-large hopes for both.
Arizona State vs Nebraska (4:30)
ASU overcame a 1-0 deficit in the final twenty minutes on Friday against Tennessee, eventually winning by a decisive 4-2 margin after a four goal flurry in twelve minutes. The Sun Devils will look to cap a perfect weekend against a resurgent Nebraska on Sunday afternoon. The Huskers looked to be in deep trouble after a crushing defeat to New Mexico on Opening Day, but have promptly won five on the trot to work themselves back into a good position. The Sun Devils figure to be their biggest test though, and Arizona State will be eager to keep their undefeated run alive.
Portland vs Penn State (5:30)
Last Chance Saloon for the Nittany Lions? It seems a little foolish to say with Big Ten play still to come for Penn State, but PSU have shown little to make anyone believe they’ll successfully defend their conference crown. The uphill task they’ve given themselves will not get any easier with a match against Portland on the docket Sunday. The Pilots have shown a penchant for late heroics and a stout defense so far in 2010, not good signs for a Penn State team desperate for a win. Portland should feel confident of keeping their 100% record intact but on paper, Penn State has the offensive talent to run with anyone in the country. Now it’s just a matter of getting that talent to produce before it’s too late.
UC Irvine vs San Diego (10:00)
Irvine have molded themselves into a sneaky good team and look like a real threat to win the Big West this season. Even if they don’t, they could be a contender for an at-large bid with a strong run towards the second half of the season. Meanwhile, their opponents on Sunday, San Diego, have enjoyed a fine start to the season, and while likely a cut below Portland and Santa Clara, are still a match for all but the cream of the crop. The Toreros were held by Dartmouth on Friday and will be eager to get back among the wins on the road on Sunday evening.