Top 10 preview
Penn State opens with a pair of top-10 teams
No. 1 North Carolina
Friday, Aug. 30: at Lock Haven
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. Villanova (at Newark, Del.)
The defending national runner-ups ended last season as the national runner-ups, and start the season with a trip to Lock Haven before making a stop in Delaware for a game against Villanova. North Carolina is the favorite to win the ACC for the third consecutive year. The Tar Heels return 12 members of last year’s 23-2 team and bring in 10 new players.
No. 2 Maryland:
Sat. Aug. 31: vs New Hampshire (at Philadelphia)
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. Temple/Ohio (at Philadelphia)
Maryland goes to Philadelphia for a pair of games this weekend, the first against No. 20 New Hampshire before playing either Temple or Ohio in the second game. Maryland was picked second in the ACC, and took the only other first-place vote from North Carolina. The Terrapins reached the national semifinals in 2012 before losing to eventual-champion Princeton and return nine starters from that team.
No. 3 Princeton:
No. 4 Connecticut:
Sat. Aug. 31: at Stanford
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. California (at Palo Alto, Calif.)
The Huskies travel to the west coast with a game at Stanford before playing California in Palo Alto, Calif. Preseason awards rolled in for the Huskies, who were voted by conference coaches to win the Big East. Coaches also voted Marie Elena Bolles as the preseason Big East Offensive Player of the Year and Sarah Mansfield as the preseason Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Stanford is ranked No. 18 to start the year, and California went 8-12 in 2012.
No. 5 Syracuse:
Fri. Aug. 30: vs. Quinnipiac (at Hempstead, N.Y.)
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. Hofstra/La Salle (at Hempstead, N.Y.)
In its first game as a member of the ACC, Syracuse travels to Hempstead, N.Y. to play Quinnipiac in the Asics Invitational, and will face either Hofstra or La Salle Sunday. In its final season as a Big East member, the Orange won the conference regular-season title, was ranked No. 1 in the nation for three weeks and reached the national quarterfinals. Head coach Ange Bradley is perfect in six season openers with the Orange and has six returners this season.
No. 6 Penn State:
Fri. Aug. 30: at Old Dominion
Sun. Sept. 1: at Virginia
Penn State has arguably the toughest first weekend of any team, traveling to face a pair of top-10 teams. The Nittany Lions kick off their season at Old Dominion on Friday, before staying in-state to face Virginia on Sunday. Eight starters return for the Nittany Lions, last season’s Big Ten regular-season and tournament champions. Last season’s leading goal scorer, Amy Kelsey (24 goals), graduated but the next five point-getters return for the Lions.
No. 7 Virginia:
Fri. Aug. 30: vs. Louisville
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. Penn State
In what will soon be an ACC matchup, Virginia starts its season with Louisville before hosting Penn State Sunday. The Cavaliers finished the 2012 campaign with a 16-6 record, advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. The squad features a pair of preseason All-ACC honorees with senior forward Elly Buckley and junior goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone earning the accolades. Buckley, a three-time All-American, was second on the team in scoring last season, tallying 17 goals and seven assists. Johnstone, the All-ACC goalkeeper last season, led the conference for most of the season in save percentage. The Cavaliers were picked sixth in the seven-team ACC.
No. 8 Old Dominion:
Fri. Aug. 30: vs. Penn State
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. American
An offseason full of change for the Monarchs officially comes to an end Friday when it hosts Penn State before hosting American two days later. Among the changes for Old Dominion was the hiring of former Lafayette head coach Andrew Griffiths and a move to the Big East. Last year’s Monarch team gave up fewer than two goals a game on average and reached the NCAA quarterfinals as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.
No. 9 Michigan:
Sat. Aug. 31: vs. Massachussetts (at Orono, Maine)
Sun. Sept. 1: at Maine
A switch in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge means the Wolverines will open with an opponent other than North Carolina for the first time since 2001. Instead, Michigan will travel to Maine to face A-10 favorite Massachusetts on Saturday and then Maine on Sunday. Just one win this weekend will give head coach Marcia Pankratz 200 career wins, which would make her the 32nd coach in Division I history to reach that mark. Rachael Mack, who is third on the all-time goal list at Michigan, will look to lead the team in scoring for the fourth consecutive year.
No. 10 Duke:
Fri. Aug. 30: vs. Indiana
Sun. Sept. 1: vs. Drexel
Duke is home for its season opener for the first time since 2009, and will do with a pair of games against Indiana and Drexel. In the only previous meeting between the schools, Indiana defeated the Blue Devils in overtime, 3-2, in 2011. The Blue Devils will look to get some revenge against Drexel, who knocked off the Blue Devils in last year’s season opener. Duke was picked third by ACC coaches.