Top 10 Preview: Virginia to host Virginia Tech as ACC season ends
No. 1 Virginia
Virginia has secured the top seed in the ACC tournament, which kicks off this weekend with the quarterfinals on Sunday. The Cavaliers are 18-0-0 overall and 12-0-0 in the ACC, making them the only unbeaten and untied team in the country. They are coming off a 1-0 overtime win against No. 3 Florida on Sunday, which gave them a seven-point lead in the ACC standings with one game to play.
The last test for the Cavaliers on their quest for a perfect season is No. 5 Virginia Tech, which Virginia will host on Thursday. The Hokies lost to Florida State and beat Miami last weekend, bringing their overall record to 14-2-2 and conference standing to third place at 9-2-1, just on point behind the Seminoles and one ahead of North Carolina. Virginia won last season’s meeting between the teams 5-0 at Virginia Tech. It will then host an ACC quarterfinal match on Sunday against a team that is to be determined.
No. 2 UCLA
With no conference tournament in the Pac-12, UCLA still has three games remaining on its regular-season slate. Two will come this weekend as the Bruins host Oregon State on Friday and Oregon on Sunday. UCLA enters the weekend with at 6-0-2 in the Pac-12, five points ahead of Stanford in the conference standings.
Oregon State is tied for seventh in the standings with Arizona State with 10 points at 3-4-1 and 5-10-2 overall. The Beavers beat California and lost to Stanford last weekend. Oregon, which is tied for second-to-last place with seven points, also beat the Bears and lost to the Cardinal last weekend.
No. 3 Florida State
Florida State will wrap up its regular-season schedule on Thursday when the Seminoles welcome No. 19 Notre Dame to Tallahassee. The Seminoles are coming off a 1-0 overtime loss to Virginia on Sunday, their first loss of the season. While it took them out of contention for the top seed in the ACC tournament, they still stand in second place in the conference at 9-1-2 and 14-1-3 overall. That fives Florida State 29 points, one better than Virginia Tech and two better than North Carolina.
Notre Dame spent most of the first half of the season ranked in the top five, but went through a four-game losing streak in the middle of October. The Irish got back on the winning track last weekend with wins against Boston College and at Clemson. They stand in fifth place in the ACC at 7-4-1 with 22 points. Florida State will then host an ACC quarterfinal matchup on Sunday.
No. 4 North Carolina
The Tar Heels will conclude its regular season when it hosts Duke on Thursday. They have already secured home field advantage in the quarterfinal round of the ACC tournament on Sunday, with a five-point lead on fifth-place Notre Dame in the standings. North Carolina, led by Crystal Dunn’s nine goals, is 9-3-0 in the ACC and 15-3-0 overall.
Duke has not lost in its past five matches, four of which have been wins. Last weekend, the Blue Devils topped N.C. State 1-0 and Pittsburgh 6-3. At 5-4-3 in the ACC and 8-6-4 overall, they are in sixth place. Conference tournament seeding is still to be decided, as Duke leads Wake Forest by one point and Boston College by two.
No. 5 Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech had not lost in nine games before losing to Florida State last Thursday. The Hokies rebounded, however, with a 1-0 win against Miami on Sunday. They will now face their toughest test of the year in their last regular-season game when they travel to No. 1 Virginia on Thursday. Virginia Tech is currently in third place in the ACC standings with 28 points, one behind Florida State and one ahead of North Carolina.
Top-ranked Virginia comes in having won all 18 games it has played this season. Last year, the Cavaliers beat the Hokies 5-0 in Blacksburg.
No. 6 Florida
Florida comes in to its last regular-season game tied for first in the SEC. Both the Gators and Texas A&M have an 8-2-0 record in the conference, after Florida beat the Aggies last Sunday 2-0. The two squads hold a slim lead against South Carolina, which is 7-2-1 in the conference, and a one-game lead against 7-3-0 Kentucky. Florida has lifted its ranking to sixth in the country with a six-game winning streak, all of which have been shutouts.
The Gators (14-3-1 overall) will wrap up their regular season on Friday at Georgia, which is in sixth place in the SEC at 12-5-1 overall and 5-4-1 in the conference. Florida won last season’s matchup in Gainesville 4-1. The Bulldogs won both of their games last weekend, beating LSU 2-1 and Arkansas 1-0, both on the road.
No. 7 Stanford
Stanford (12-3-1, 5-3-1) enters the weekend with three games left on its slate and in second place in the Pac-12 standings. At 15 points, it trails UCLA by five, and the four teams behind the Cardinal are separated by just two points. Stanford has rebounded with a from a three-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak, including a 4-1 victory against Oregon State on Sunday.
Led by the scoring duo of Courtney Verloo (nine goals, six assists) and Taylor Uhl (10 goals), Stanford will be on the road this weekend to play Washington and Washington State, two of the teams that have a chance to pass the Cardinal. The Huskies and Cougars are both 4-3-1 in the conference, giving them 13 points, two fewer than Stanford. The Cardinal will will be at Washington on Thursday and Washington State on Sunday.
No. 8 Michigan
Michigan (14-2-1, 8-1-1 Big Ten) closes out the regular season on Saturday night at U-M Soccer Stadium, hosting rival Ohio State (10-5-3, 4-4-2 Big Ten).
In order for Michigan to win the Big Ten championship, it needs to beat Ohio State on Saturday and have Nebraska lose or draw against Indiana on Friday in Lincoln, Neb. If Nebraska loses and Michigan wins, the Wolverines win the title outright. If Nebraska draws and Michigan wins, the two teams would each have 28 points and share the championship. The Wolverines have never won a regular-season Big Ten championship. Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Michigan is guaranteed to finish in the top two of the Big Ten Conference, which would be its first top-two finish in 11 years.
No. 9 Santa Clara
Santa Clara cracked the top 10 for the first time this season this week following a 9-0 rout of San Francisco last Sunday. The Broncos have four games remaining on their schedule before the postseason, starting with hosting Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine this weekend. Santa Clara, led in points by Julie Johnston (10 goals, six assists), is tied atop the WCC standings with a game in hand.
The Broncos have 15 points, the same as No. 11 Portland and No. 20 BYU, but the Pilots and Cougars each have one loss while Santa Clara is 5-0-0 in the conference. Loyola Marymount will come to Santa Clara on Friday and is in last place in the conference at 0-6-0 and 3-14-0 overall. Pepperdine, which the Broncos will play on Sunday, is fourth and three points behind the leaders at 4-2-0.
No. 10 South Carolina
The Gamecocks returned to the top 10 this week following two wins last weekend, a 4-1 victory against Vanderbilt and a 1-0 win at Mississippi State. With one game left in the regular season, South Carolina is 7-2-1, just behind Florida and Texas A&M (8-2-0) in the conference standings.
South Carolina will play their final regular-season game against Kentucky at home on Thursday. The Wildcats are one spot behind the Gamecocks in the standings at 7-3-0. Kentucky won the matchup in Lexington last year 1-0.