Top 10 Preview
After making a big jump, UMass has chance to make more noise
The first in-season poll was released on Tuesday, and with it brought some change to the back-end of the top 10. The top-four teams remained fixed in their places but three new teams entered the top 10 this week.
As the season enters its third weekend, some teams face some big challenges before starting conference play.
No. 1 North Carolina
The Tar Heels took a pair of games from Big Ten opponents in ACC-Big Ten Challenge action last week and stay in Chapel Hill for two more games this weekend. Old Dominion, who started the season in the top 10, comes in for a Friday matchup and North Carolina hosts Radford on Sunday.
North Carolina is outscoring opponents by an average of 5.5-1 and 14 different Tar Heels have scored. Casey Di Nardo and Nina Notman each have a team-leading three goals. Three different goalkeepers have been used this year, but none have had to face too many shots. Sassi Ammer has seen the most action, making seven saves and giving up three goals in almost 200 minutes of action.
No. 2 Maryland
The Terrapins have passed the tough part of their early season schedule, winning three games against ranked teams and four in all. The closest call in that stretch was a 3-0 victory at Old Dominion last Friday. Now, the Terrapins host Columbia on Saturday and Miami (Ohio) on Sunday.
Anna Dessoye leads the team with four goals and five assists. Natalie Hunter, who has made 13 saves on the season, had an up-and-down weekend last week with a career-high 10 saves against Old Dominion before giving up two goals on as many shots against Drexel last Sunday.
No. 3 Princeton
The Tigers got off to a good start in defending their national championship, winning a pair of games last weekend. Already having taken down one top-10 team this year (No. 10 Duke), the Tigers face another highly ranked team in No. 13 Penn State on Sunday. But the Tigers kick off their weekend with another Big Ten team in Michigan State on Friday. Michigan State is an unfamiliar foe for the Tigers (their only meeting came in 2002) while Penn State has played Princeton 31 times, including a 3-2 overtime victory for the Tigers last season.
Teresa Benvenuti leads Princeton with two goals and five other Tigers have a goal. Christina Maida has been solid in goal through the first weekend, making seven saves while giving up one goal. The Tigers have also won 16 consecutive games dating back to last season.
No. 4 Connecticut
The combined margin of victory in three Huskies wins is three goals, and UConn has won two of those in overtime. Now with their first two home games this season on the horizon – one on Friday against Fairfield (3-1), one on Sunday against Lafayette (1-2) – the Huskies look for wins four and five on the early season.
No Connecticut player has more than two goals though Sophie Bowden and Marie Elena Bolles have each netted an overtime goal. Sarah Mansfield, who is one victory away from tying the school record with 58 career victories, has blocked 22 of the 27 shots she’s faced so far this season.
No. 5 Virginia
Another team living near the edge but finding a way to win has been Virginia (5-0). Outside of a 6-1 victory against Yale last Friday, all the other games have been within two goals – including a shootout victory against Richmond on Tuesday. This weekend, Virginia heads to Burlington, Vt., for two games: one on Saturday against Maine and one on Sunday against Vermont.
Scoring hasn’t been an issue for the Cavaliers, who have 19 goals on the season. Elly Buckley and Caleigh Foust each have seven goals to lead them and Carissa Vittese has a team-high four assists so far. Jenny Johnstone has played every minute in the cage so far this year, making 28 saves and giving up nine goals.
No. 6 Syracuse
The Orange has scored at least four goals in each game this season, having won all four of them. Syracuse looks to continue that trend when it hosts No. 14 Massachusetts on Friday and Ohio State on Sunday. Syracuse is familiar with Massachusetts, having beaten the Minutewomen in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.
Lauren Brooks has led the offensive charge with six goals and Leonie Geyer has led the team with six assists. On the back end, Jess Jecko has allowed four goals in 280 minutes of action.
No. 7 Massachusetts
The biggest mover in this week’s poll is UMass, up from No. 14 to No. 7 after starting the season with five wins, including one against then-No. 9 Michigan. The Minutewomen will have a tough challenge in its first game as a top-10 team this season when it plays No. 6 Syracuse on Friday. The Orange own a 17-7-1 all-time advantage against the Minutewomen, but UMass pulled off the upset last October when Syracuse was ranked No. 1. After playing Syracuse, the Minutewomen stay in upstate New York to play Ohio State on Saturday. These two teams met last August with UMass winning 2-1 in overtime.
One of the biggest breakout stars of the season so far has been Brooke Sabia, a sophomore midfielder. Through the Minutewomen’s first five games this year, Sabia already has seven goals after scoring just one her freshman year. No other UMass player has more than two, though Alexa Skalis does have a team-high five assists. Sam Carlino has been strong in the UMass cage, making 22 saves and allowing five goals in 350 minutes.
No. 8 Iowa
The Hawkeyes jumped up five places in the week’s poll, despite losing its last game. That was to No. 1 North Carolina though, and has only given up one goal in their three wins this season. Iowa stays home this weekend, hosting Central Michigan on Friday and No. 10 Stanford on Sunday. Central Michigan has dropped its previous two games to even its record at 2-2 and Stanford is 3-1 with its only loss coming at home to No. 4 UConn.
Three Hawkeyes have two goals each (Natalie Cafone, Karlie Johansen and Stephanie Norlander) to lead the team in scoring. On the team’s nine goals so far, only four have come off assists with four different players each picking up one. Kelsey Boyce made six of her 15 saves on the season against UNC, and has played every minute so far this year.
No. 9 Duke
The Blue Devils moved up one spot to No. 9 after a 3-1 start to the season with the only loss coming last weekend at No. 3 Princeton. Duke kicks off its two-week homestand this week hosting William & Mary on Friday and Old Dominion on Sunday. Both of Duke’s opponents this week have had an up-and-down start to the season with the Tribe going 2-2 (both losses came last weekend) and the Monarchs dropping to No. 15 after a 1-3 start to the season with all losses coming to top-10 teams.
Duke has outshot its opponents 74-35 and Emmie Le Marchand has a team-high four goals. Cherry Seaborn and Heather Morris each have three goals to support Le Marchand. Lauren Blazing has made 12 saves and given up five goals in 307 minutes this season.
No. 10 Stanford
After opening off the season with a loss to UConn, Stanford has rallied for three consecutive wins and a place in the top 10. The Cardinal look to keep its place there but will travel to Iowa City, Iowa for a pair of games this weekend. First up for Stanford is Central Michigan on Saturday before meeting No. 8 Iowa on Sunday. Stanford comes into Saturday’s game off of a shutout win against VCU in which it did not allow a shot on goal.
Dulcie Davies hasn’t faced many shots this season, turning away 10 of the 15 attempts she has faced. Hope Brooke leads the Cardinal with three goals and Kelsey Habin, Maddie Secco and Courtney Haldeman each have two goals.