Thursday, September 27, 2012
The top two teams in the nation will take to the field on Thursday night to open a big weekend of women’s college soccer action, with current and former W-League players at the forefront. No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Stanford both face ranked opponents in key conference contests, highlighting the weekend’s action available on television and online.
Defending national champion Stanford and former Pali Blues standout Mariah Nogueira will host No. 23 Oregon State on the Pac-12 Network at 9 p.m. ET looking to build on their Pac-12-schedule opener that saw the Cardinal take a 3-0 victory against Arizona State last Sunday. The Beavers took victory in their conference opener as well, however, with the Vancouver Whitecaps Women’s Jenna Richardson leading the team with four goals.
Richardson has received support from former Seattle Sounders Women midfielder Megan Miller, who leads OSU with 10 points, while defensively Ottawa Fury goalkeeper Audrey Bernier-LaRose has recorded three shutouts in five starts.
Opening the night's action, the Seminoles travel to visit No. 13 North Carolina at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3, with former Pali Blues standout Tiffany McCarty aiming to help her side continue its perfect start to the season. The Tar Heels are finding form, however, having ended Virginia Tech’s undefeated start to the season last Thursday with a 3-1 victory.
UNC’s Amber Brooks, who spent this summer with the NJ Wildcats, led the way against the Hokies as she recorded a goal and an assist in the opening 15 minutes of the contest, while former Cary Clarets forward Maria Lubrano also found the back of the net for her fourth goal of the campaign.
Also on Thursday night, No. 8 Penn State visits Ohio State on the Big Ten Network at 8 p.m. ET, with D.C. United Women standout Christine Nairn starring for the Nittany Lions. Nairn, who also previously played for the Washington Freedom Futures in the W-League, has nine goals and 23 points in 10 games this season to lead PSU, while former Hudson Valley Quickstrike goalkeeper Erin McNulty has conceded only nine goals in nine starts this season.
Key ACC action continues on Sunday as No. 4 Duke faces No. 7 Virginia at 2 p.m. ET on ESPNU. The Blue Devils have received key contributions from Long Island Rough Riders forward Kim DeCesare, who sits second on the team with 19 points in nine games. Former Cary Clarets midfielder Mollie Pathman’s return has also boosted the Blue Devils, with the junior having been part of the U.S. U20 National Team that took victory at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Japan earlier this month.
They will face a Virginia side that has proved sold defensively, thanks in part to D.C. United Women defender Molly Menchel. The Cavaliers have allowed only seven goals in 11 games this season, a record that will be tested by the Blue Devils’ high-powered attack.
Completing the ESPNU doubleheader on Sunday is the SEC clash between LSU and Georgia. The Bulldogs and Atlanta Silverbacks goalkeeper Ashley Baker will aim to keep the Tigers winless in conference play. Baker has recorded three shutouts in 10 starts for the Bulldogs this season, while former Real Colorado Cougars forward Bella Hartley has provided the scoring, leading the team with eight points.
On the Pac-12 Network on Sunday, Southern Cal faces Arizona at 4:30 p.m. ET with both teams aiming to build on victories to open their conference schedules. The Trojans, who took a 1-0 overtime victory against Washington last weekend, have received strong performances from LA Strikers goalkeeper Caroline Stanley, who made four saves in their shutout of the Huskies, and Strikers forward Samantha Johnson, who scored the overtime winner.