Just 32 teams remain after the first round of the 2018 women’s NCAA soccer tournament, and with the second round starting on Friday, these are the five matchups you won’t want to miss.
Wisconsin vs. Hofstra (November 16, 2018, 7:35 p.m. ET — Laird Q. Cagan Stadium, Stanford, California)
The Badgers and the Pride both outscored their opponents by three goals in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and now these two teams will face each other on Friday in an offensive battle. Leading the way for Hofstra is Jenna Buoncore, Lucy Porter and Sabrina Bryan, each of whom have scored over 20 points this season. Wisconsin also brings a trio of double-digit point-scorers to the match, with Lauren Rice, Dani Rhodes and Cameron Murtha owning 16, 14 and 14 point totals this season, respectively. The winner of this game will compete against the winner of top-ranked Stanford vs. Mississippi on November 18.
Penn State vs. No. 3 South Carolina (November 16, 2018, 3 p.m. ET — Dick Dlesk Stadium, Morgantown, West Virginia)
Penn State, the 2015 champion in this tournament, will face a competitive South Carolina team led by Lauren Chang, who has recorded 20 points this season and scored the go-ahead goal for the Gamecocks in the first round against UNC Greensboro. The Nittany Lion roster does not include any player with as many points this year as Chang, but the two Penn State point leaders, Frankie Tagliaferri Kerry Abello, each have 19 points for the team this year. Just behind them in the leaderboard is Kristin Schnurr and Emily Ogle, each with 17 points. Ogle, a senior, has also played more minutes than all but one Nittany Lion in program history and will be a veteran leader for the team on the field. Penn State remains undefeated in NCAA tournament games when scoring the first goal of a match, but look for the Gamecocks to put up a fight against the the Nittany Lions and challenge them for a bid to the third round.
No. 4 Southern California vs. LSU (November 16, 2018, 2 p.m. ET — Seminole Soccer Complex, Tallahassee, Florida)
The Trojans, who took down Long Beach State in the first round with a dominant 6-0 win, are in the midst of their 17th NCAA tournament appearance in program history and hoping to repeat the championship run they experienced in 2016. The LSU team, by contrast, will make program history if the Tigers pull off an upset win against Southern California and advance to the third round for the first time ever. These two teams have competed against each other just once before, with LSU notching a 1-0 win the 2013 matchup. Though USC holds a No. 4 seed in the tournament and has outscored opponents 54-10 this year, the Tigers and their powerful offense led by Alex Thomas, should not be discounted.
South Florida vs. No. 1 Florida State (November 16, 2018, 5 p.m. ET — Seminole Soccer Complex, Tallahassee, Florida)
The Seminoles enter this game on a hot streak, having upset North Carolina in the ACC tournament and then rolling to a 1-0 first round win against Loyola Chicago. They hold a No. 1 seed in the national tournament but could face a challenge from in-state opponent, South Florida. South Florida lost in the finals of its conference tournament but still earned an NCAA bid and cruised through the first round with a 5-1 win against Albany. Friday’s matchup between the Seminoles and the Bulls will feature a battle between ACC first-team athletes Deyna Castellanos and Yujie Zhao and American Athletic Conference first-team athletes Evelyne Viens and Andrea Hauksdottir. Castellanos and Viens lead their teams offensively with 25 and 47 points respectively. South Florida will play in the third second-round game in program history on Friday. A win would earn South Florida its first trip to the third round in school history.
No. 3 Texas A&M vs. TCU (November 16, 2 p.m. ET — Regal Soccer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee)
The Horned Frogs will play in the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history after earning a team record 13th win against BYU. Texas A&M, on the other hand, has been a veteran team in the NCAA tournament, and Friday’s match against TCU will be the 21st second-round game the Aggies have played in as many years. Both teams have the experience and conditioning necessary to find goals late in the game, as Texas A&M fought through double overtime to earn its bid to the second round. TCU kept its tournament dreams alive after a come-from-behind win against the Cougars in the second half of last week’s game. This victor of this game will advance to play either Tennessee or Arizona.