There were a lot of eyeballs on women’s soccer this summer with the World Cup taking place in France. This fall, you can keep watching, as the women’s college soccer season is just around the corner.
Florida State claimed the national championship last season, beating North Carolina in the final. Can the Seminoles defend their championship? Or will the Tar Heels add to their vast collection of national titles? Or will another team — perhaps UCLA, West Virginia or Stanford — rise up and take the crown?
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The action kicks off in August and goes all the way through December, with the College Cup being played in San Jose, California.
Here’s seven games you have to watch during the regular season.
Aug. 25, 2 p.m. ET — Wisconsin at Florida State
This is the second regular season game of the year for Florida State, which will be looking to defend its national title. Wisconsin advanced all the way to the third round of the NCAA tournament last season, where it fell 1-0 to No. 1 Stanford.
The Badgers posted 14 wins last season and had four All-Big Ten selections. This is also the first women’s soccer game that will be aired by the new ACC Network, which features the “Keeper Cam” — cameras mounted inside the goal posts — that ESPN uses on its Major League Soccer broadcasts.
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Aug. 29, 8:30 p.m. ET — Florida State at UCLA
This could shape up to be the best regular-season game of the year. Florida State had the fifth best defense in the nation last year, allowing just .469 goals-per-game. Meanwhile, UCLA had the second best offense, scoring 2.77 goals-per-game.
Returning for the Seminoles are TopDrawerSoccer All-Freshman selections Yujie Zhao and Jaelin Howell, Canadian national team midfielder Gabby Carle, Venezuelan national team forward and three-time All-ACC selection Deyna Castellanos.
UCLA is coming off a season where it advanced to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals last year before falling to UNC in penalty kicks. The Bruins bring back a pair of players who went to this past summer’s World Cup in Australian goalkeeper Teagan Micah and Canadian midfielder Jessie Fleming. Also returning is forward Ashley Sanchez, an All-American and Hermann Trophy semifinalist last season who accounted for 10 goals and 15 assists last year.
Sept. 15, 1 p.m. ET — West Virginia at Georgetown
This game features the reigning Big 12 champs at the reigning Big East champs. The Hoyas made the College Cup Final Four last year but lost to North Carolina 1-0 in extra time of the semifinals. Georgetown graduated leading attackers Caitlin Farrell and Kyra Carusa, but return USWNT U-23 players Meaghan Nally and Paula Germino-Watnick.
The Mountaineers lost two players to the NWSL draft, but bring back All-American goalkeeper Rylee Foster and Canadian youth national team players Julianne Vallerand and Aaliyah Scott. This should be a low-scoring game, as Georgetown had the second-best defense in the country last year and West Virginia had the 11th best.
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Oct. 3, 6 p.m. ET — Boise State at San Jose State
This game might fly under the radar for some, but it features the NCAA’s leading goal scorer from a season ago, pitted against the team that won the Mountain West title in 2018.
As a junior, Boise State’s Raimee Sherle put 20 shots in the back of the net, which was tied for the leading mark in the nation with South Florida’s Evelyne Viens. Sherle’s mark was a Mountain West and Boise State record as she claimed the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award. But to get on the biggest stage this season, the Broncos will have to get past the San Jose Spartans.
The reigning Mountain West champs return all-conference selections Kristen Amarikwa and Jada Wilson. The Spartans also added Seattle transfer Ariana Romero, San Francisco transfer Sylvia Sloss and Afghanistan national team forward Marjan Haydaree.
Oct. 10, 7 p.m. ET — North Carolina at Duke
No matter the sport, the game is always a must-watch when UNC and Duke meet up. This will be the second meeting between the two in 2019, as they are also set to play a non-conference match on Aug. 25.
The Blue Devils return All-ACC Second Team midfielder Ella Stevens and All-ACC freshmen Delaney Graham and Sydney Simmons. Incoming Duke freshman Sophie Jones was named Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year last season. Duke went to the third round of the NCAA tournament last season.
Oct. 19, 10 p.m. ET — UCLA at Stanford
Stanford rolled to the College Cup final four last season, allowing just one goal in its first four matches of the tournament. Then the Cardinal ran into Florida State in the semifinals and lost 2-0.
Stanford graduated All-Americans in Alana Cook, Jordan Dibiasi and Tegan McGrady, and saw U.S. national team selection Tierna Davidson leave school early, but they also return a talented crop of players. Among those returning for the Cardinal are All-Pac-12 second-team selections Madison Haley, Kiki Pickett and Sophia Smith, and 2018 Hermann Trophy winner Catarina Macario, who scored 14 goals and assisted on eight others last year. Stanford beat UCLA 3-2 last season in their lone meeting.
Weather delays have us all ... pic.twitter.com/0s9wvp7N8M— UCLA Women's Soccer (@UCLAWSoccer) July 10, 2019
Oct. 24, 7 p.m. ET — Florida State at North Carolina
This is a rematch of last year’s national championship game and the Tar Heels will be searching for revenge. Returning for Anson Dorrance’s side is 2018 ACC Offensive Player of the Year Alessia Russo, U.S. national team defender Emily Fox, and a pair of All-ACC First Team selections in Taylor Otto and Brianna Pinto. Like last year’s national championship game, this should be a highly-competitive and entertaining match.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.