Oct. 1, 2009

By Amy Farnum

LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN:   In the Atlantic Coast Conference, every game is an important one, and this weekend’s slate is no different.  The league boasts the top four teams in the nation – No. 1 Maryland, No. 2 North Carolina, No. 3 Virginia and No. 4 Wake Forest.  The top three are each undefeated and looking to remain on top of the conference standings, while Wake Forest suffered its first ACC loss to defending NCAA champion Maryland last weekend.

Maryland and Virginia will clash on Oct. 2, one of which will see its first blemish of the season on a perfect 11-0 mark.  The Terrapins enter the contest with one of the nation’s best scoring averages, while Virginia began the week as the second-ranked defense in Division I.  The Cavaliers are off to their best start since 1979 when they began the year 12-0.  

No. 2 North Carolina will try to keep its flawless record intact on Oct. 3 in a rematch against Wake Forest, which the Tar Heels won, 4-1.  The previous contest was not an ACC game, but the Demon Deacons are one of just two teams to score a goal against UNC this season.  The Tar Heels lead the nation with a 0.20 goals against average.

No. 10 Boston College and No. 13 Duke round out the ACC schedule this weekend as both teams will be vying for their first league wins of the season.  All six of the ACC field hockey teams are ranked, the most of any conference in the nation.

Sixth-ranked Syracuse University and No. 10 Massachusetts will meet on Oct. 3 in a non-conference rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament first round game as the Orange looks to stretch its winning streak to 12 games in the series.   The Orange won the last meeting, 3-2, in a back-and-forth battle.

Syracuse head coach Ange Bradley finds a familiar foe in the Minutewomen as this will be the 15th time she has faced UMass in her career.  Bradley is the former head coach at Richmond, which competes with UMass in the Atlantic 10 Conference.  Bradley guided Richmond to five straight A-10 titles before leaving for SU in 2007, and since her departure, UMass has claimed the last two league championships.

SU has won six straight contests and is led by junior forward Lindsey Conrad, who paces the Orange with 19 points and eight goals.    Reigning A-10 Player of the Week Katie Kelly paces the Minutewomen with six goals after scoring three in wins over Vermont and Quinnipiac last weekend.

GOING GREEN: Since starting the season with a 1-4 mark, Dartmouth has reeled off three straight victories to even its record at 4-4 thanks to the stellar play of sophomore Kelly Hood.  

The native of Berlin, N.H., contributed 16 points in wins over Brown and Bryant last week, including an Ivy League-record five goals in the 8-3 victory versus the Bears.  Hood was selected Ivy League Player of the Week for her efforts, and followed it up with a pair of assists in a 3-2 overtime win against Vermont on Sept. 30. She leads the team with 23 points, eight goals and seven assists.

The Big Green returns to action at Penn on Oct. 3 for an Ivy League showdown.