NCAA Soccer – The First XI for August 28, 2011

Kathryn Williamson

Busy Gator - Florida's Kathryn Williamson Will Be Looking To Shut Down Sydney Leroux and UCLA on Sunday

UCLA vs Florida – 1:30 PM EST (in Knoxville, Tennessee)

Arguably Sunday’s marquee matchup, the Bruins get their biggest test of the season by far against a veteran and battle hardened Florida side. UCLA showed they were battle hardened themselves on Friday night after coming back late to stun Tennessee through goals from Zakiya Bywaters and Sydney Leroux. But Florida’s an entirely different animal, a team just as deep as UCLA and perhaps with as much firepower as the Bruins. There are intriguing matchups galore in this one, not limited to Florida’s Kathryn Williamson trying to shut down Leroux and the matchup of the playmakers with UCLA’s Sam Mewis squaring off against the Gators’ Erika Tymrak. If Florida can come away with a convincing win in this one, we might have to add them to the mix of College Cup contenders, though you could say the same thing about their opponents on Sunday.

Tennessee vs Texas A&M – 11:30 AM EST

In what essentially amounts to the consolation game in the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic, both the home side and Texas A&M will be eager to avoid a very disappointing weekend by avoiding a second defeat in three days. Both clubs suffered similar fates on Friday in the end. Tennessee found themselves up on UCLA, 1-0, heading into the final two minutes but were hit with a quickfire double from Zakiya Bywaters and Sydney Leroux as the Bruins left it real late. A&M looked to be going to extra time after dominating the second half while being unable to knock in a third goal to take the lead. The Aggies would pay the price for their profligacy in front of goal though, as McKenzie Barney scored with just fifteen seconds left to lead Florida to a 3-2 win. A&M’s defense has been leaking goals, which has to be music to the ears of Tennessee who has in Caroline Brown and Chelsea Hatcher, two players who can make dents into the scoreboard. But the Lady Vols will be well aware that this Aggie offense is still very dangerous and could themselves give the home side a lot of problems.

Marquette vs Long Beach State – 12:00 PM EST

Marquette gets their toughest challenge of the season to date as Long Beach State comes to Valley Fields late Sunday morning. The Golden Eagles’ defense has been typically steely with three clean sheets in three matches, though the offense has only started to roll after the team’s last match, a 5-0 beating of Saint Louis. Marquette can’t be looking ahead to a big showdown with Florida State next week though, because Long Beach State will be eager to get out of the weekend with a split after losing out to Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday in a wildly entertaining mid-major showdown. The 49ers still are looking to build their at-large bid profile before Big West play kicks in with another big win. LBSU will be hoping that Nadia Link, impressive on Friday is one of the keys to unlock a flawless Marquette defense up to this point in 2011.

Duke vs Notre Dame – 1:00 PM EST (in Chapel Hill, North Carolina)

We’ve been here before. A national title contender comes off a draining game against North Carolina, only to get tested by a talented Duke side on Sunday afternoon. Last year, Stanford had to struggle mightily before emerging with a win over the Blue Devils, and Notre Dame doesn’t figure to have it any easier against Duke this season. North Carolina has a ton of firepower, but so does Duke with the trio of Laura Weinberg, Mollie Pathman, and Kelly Cobb ready to test the Irish defense. Notre Dame’s Melissa Henderson will be eager to shake off Friday’s disappointment and get back on the scoring and winning track. It’ll definitely be worth watching which keeper starts for Notre Dame on Sunday. Maddie Fox got the nod against Wisconsin, but freshman Sarah Voigt was in between the pipes against Carolina on Sunday.

San Diego vs Kansas – 2:30 PM EST

Welcome back to the land of the living Jayhawks. After an abject 2010 season, nobody really blinked in the first weekend of play when Kansas dropped a match to Tennessee at home before pounding Arkansas, 4-1. But a win over USC at a neutral site, even if the Trojans are struggling mightily at the moment, raised an eyebrow or two around the country. If Kansas can get out of this match with at least a draw, they’ll likely be very, very happy with the weekend’s work heading into a winnable weekend next week. Not that that figures to be easy in the least. San Diego has been on a tear to open up the season and cut through Pacific, 4-0, like a hot knife through butter on Friday night. The Toreros are already in fine form and could be serious WCC title contenders this year if they can keep motoring along.

San Diego State vs Portland – 3:00 PM EST

The Aztecs got a priceless win against Minnesota on Friday, but that’ll look like a drop in the ocean if they can upset Portland on Sunday afternoon. San Diego State boasts one of the best kept secrets in the country in senior Cat Walker, and the injury plagued attacker has looked in great form thus far for the Aztecs in 2011. This is another in a tough stretch of matches that could ultimately decide San Diego State’s viability as an at-large contender down the line. After a high profile win over Florida State last weekend, Portland won a much more muted affair with Washington State (though not in the stands, where the Pilot supporters are always loud). Though the Pilots looked to have made a very good start to the season, they can’t take their eye off the ball now, with every match important for RPI purposes and potential seeding and hosting duties in the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona State vs South Carolina – 4:00 PM EST

The home side made quite the impression when they ripped apart Northern Arizona on opening day to the tune of 7-0 but have been idle since. The Sun Devils, not tipped to make much noise in the Pac-12 title race this year, will be eager to pick up a big win at home that could pay dividends down the line in November come NCAA Tournament selection time. South Carolina suffered through a long, long night on Friday in a weather protracted match that wasn’t exactly great viewing for neutrals. The Gamecocks gutted out an ugly 1-0 extra time win over Arizona though and will be looking to cap a perfect weekend with a win against the Sun Devils. With the SEC looking down again for RPI purposes, this could be a big win to separate the Gamecocks from the chasing pack in the non-conference RPI measure.

Georgetown vs Stanford – 4:00 PM EST

Provided that Washington D.C. isn’t underwater at kick-off, fans in the nation’s capital should be privy to another fantastic matchup after seeing Maryland entertain the Card on Friday night. The Hoyas have undertaken their usual non-conference slate: AKA light on teams that can actually give them a challenge while being heavy on local foes. This is without question the marquee matchup for the Hoyas before Big East play begins, and Georgetown could actually be in a bit of an RPI pickle if they don’t get something out of this. Stanford’s struggling through some injuries at the moment with Mariah Nogueira and Rachel Quon both missing Friday, though Emily Oliver was back in goal. Of course, the big matchup is going to be in midfield where two of the nation’s best in Georgetown’s Ingrid Wells and Stanford’s Teresa Noyola will square off in a head-to-head duel.

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