There are many compelling stories to watch this week in women's soccer. Can Arkansas keep surging and contend for an SEC crown? Can UCLA compete with Stanford? Will Florida and Florida State bounce back after tough weekends? Will Virginia and BYU keep winning?
Let's jump into some of those storylines and more. Here are five matches to keep an eye on this week in women's college soccer:
No. 5 BYU (12-0-1) vs. Saint Mary's (6-6-1) 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 18| WATCH: WCC Network
BYU is one of two undefeated teams left in women's college soccer. They are also the highest-ranked West Coast Conference school in the top-25 with the other, Santa Clara, clocking in at No. 20. With the Cougars atop of the West Coast Conference and one of the five highest-ranked teams in the country, they'll have a target on their back every time they battle an in-conference foe. Does Saint Mary's have the chance to shock the women's college soccer universe and beat BYU this weekend? BYU is riding a two-match winning streak and has outscored its opponents 11-1 over that span beating Pepperdine 5-1 and Pacific 6-0. They have also outscored their opponents 42-6 throughout the season. As for Saint Mary's, well they have been struggling as of late, losing two out of their last three matches with the non-loss being a 1-1 tie against Portland. The Gaels also sit in the bottom three of the West Coast Conference standings at 2-6-1. This match has a good chance to bend towards the Cougars, especially since they have been blowing opponents out of the water lately, but anything can happen when an undefeated team faces an underdog like the Gaels.
No. 9 Duke (7-1-5) vs. No. 14 Louisville (11-1-1) 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 18 | WATCH: ACC Network Extra
Another week, another high-profile ACC matchup — that's the story when it comes to one of the toughest conferences in women's college soccer. Duke is coming off an impressive weekend where they tied their arch-rival No. 3 North Carolina and defeated then-No. 9 Clemson 3-1. The Blue Devils jumped up two spots in this week's top-25 and are back in the top 10.
Lousiville is in the top 3 of the ACC standings, behind North Carolina and Florida State. The Cardinals are coming off of a tie with Notre Dame preceded by three straight ACC wins. Duke has two victories in conference play thus far, but a win versus Louisville would tie them up with the Cardinals. Following this match, both squads will have three matches left in ACC regular-season play. The Blue Devils take on Notre Dame, Syracuse and Florida State. The Cardinals will face Virginia, Miami and NC State.
No. 8 Arkansas (11-2-1) vs. No. 18 Texas A&M (10-2-3) 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 18 | WATCH: SEC Network Plus
Arkansas is in a perfect position to finish the regular season strong and pursue a run in the post-season. The Razorbacks not only sit as the second-highest nationally ranked team in the SEC, only behind South Carolina, they also are the only team in the country to beat North Carolina this season. They won 2-0 on Sept. 15.
After winning five straight matches the Aggies went 1-1-1 over the past three, losing to Florida, tying Alabama and beating Auburn. This match has huge implications on the national stage as well as within the Southeastern Conference. A win for Texas A&M would put the Aggies ahead of Arkansas in the SEC standings. The Razorbacks aren't going to take a loss easily though. The only team Arkansas has fallen to over the last 12 matches was SEC leader South Carolina.
It could be a shootout in College Station, as both the Aggies and Razorbacks have the two best offenses in the SEC. Arkansas sits atop the conference in points, goals, goals per game, assists and assists per game, with TAMU right behind them in each of those categories. It could be defensive battle, too. These two teams are tied for first in the conference for the number of shutouts with ten.
No. 2 Stanford (12-1-0) vs. No. 16 UCLA (9-3-1) 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 19 | WATCH: Pac-12 Network Bay Area
Just like the ACC, there seems to be a Pac-12 match with huge conference and national implications every week. This time it comes in the Bay Area when UCLA travels to Stanford to take on the Cardinal. UCLA has had an interesting year. They started off strong, hopping out to a 4-0 start with wins over defending champs Florida State and Florida. The Bruins rose to No. 2 nationally after those first four games, but haven't been able to get to that spot since. The next match, they lost to Santa Clara and then tied Pepperdine just a two weeks later but as of late, the Bruins have bounced back. They are currently riding a three-match winning streak with victories over Arizona State, Colorado and Utah. As for Stanford, well they have been pretty dominant all season long. Led by defending MAC Hermann Trophy winner, Catarina Macario, who has a jaw-dropping 18 goals, 10 assists and 46 points, Stanford has been rolling with their only loss on the season coming against Pepperdine on Sept. 13. It would be huge for UCLA if they pulled off the upset at Stanford, and for the Cardinal, it would be business as usual, as they sit atop of the Pac-12 standings undefeated in conference play.
No. 1 Virginia (11-0-3) vs. Notre Dame (9-4-1) 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 20 | WATCH: ACC Network
Virginia, like BYU, is one of two unbeaten teams in women's college soccer. The Hoos have also retained the national No. 1 ranking for the fifth straight week. They're fresh off a 1-0 double-overtime victory against defending national champions Florida State and are looking as dominant as ever. Led by freshman sensation Diana Ordonez, who has the most goals in the ACC so far this season with 12, the Cavaliers will most likely finish their regular season with only one ranked opponent left, Lousiville. They take on the Cardinals on Oct. 24, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here, Virginia still has to take care of business against a Notre Dame team that has a lot to play for. Unlike the Gaels, whose prime motivating force when taking on BYU comes with the role of the underdog, the Irish are on the verge of hopping Virginia in the ACC standings. ND sits tied for fifth place in the standings, just two points behind UVA, so a win for the Irish would push them into fourth place, depending on the results of the rest of the weekend. Although this isn't the premiere matchup Virginia was in last week when they traveled to Tallahassee to take on then-No. 5 Florida State, this match his just as important.