Article Written by Travis Clark for TopDrawerSoccer.com
Also kicking off this weekend is Big Ten conference action, as the hectic slate of action begins.
Top 5 Match to Watch
No. 12 Wisconsin (6-0-0) at Michigan State (6-0-0), Friday, Sept. 12, 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
One of the premier matches of the Big Ten’s opening weekend slate, one team’s perfect record will be unseated one way or another when the Badgers make the trip to Lansing. The door to Big Ten supremacy might just crack open for a Badgers side that is looking like an all-around threat, either offensively through Kinley McNicoll, Rose Lavelle and Cara Walls, or at the back with goalkeeper Genevieve Richard. They’ll look to stop a Spartan team that is also off to a tremendous start. Freshman forward Jamie Cheslik’s addition has been significant, as she’s bagged four goals in the team’s first six games. Provided she stays on track in the conference season, the Spartans look like they might be able to exceed expectations in the Big Ten.
No. 9 Penn State (4-1-0) at Indiana (4-2-0), Sunday, Sept 14, 1 p.m.
The Nittany Lions were knocked off their Big Ten regular season perch last year thanks to a fantastic season by Nebraska. This weekend, they open conference play with a swing through Indiana, for games against Purdue and this Sunday meeting with the Hoosiers. Early signs are promising for head coach Erica Walsh and her squad, as the experienced players like Emily Hurd, Raquel Rodriguez and Mallory Weber have blended well with their talented freshmen. Junior midfielder Jessie Bujouves looks poised to breakout this season, already eclipsing her previous season high in goals scored with four tallies. Whether that’ll be enough to keep up with a high-powered Penn State attack will dictate which team claims the win.
Article Written by Will Parchman (TopDrawer Soccer.com)
The women’s season enters its fourth weekend of action this week, which gives us enough time to assess some pleasant surprises in women’s college soccer thus far. These grouping of freshmen wasted little time getting off the mark with strong starts to their initial college campaigns.
F Megan Buckingham , North Carolina: For incoming freshman, cracking the North Carolina starting XI must look something like scaling a castle wall. The Tar Heels’ historic lineage and yearly surfeit of talent makes immediate playing time something of a tough nut to crack for first-year players. Buckingham hasn’t been immune to the pressure, but she’s been able to produce anyway. She scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win over Ohio State on Aug. 24, and it was pretty enough to be named the TDS College Goal of the Week. The former Michigan Hawk logged 326 minutes in UNC’s first six games, which includes four starts, and nobody on the team has yet to score more than her one goal.
Spaanstra Scores for U17s
You may not be familiar with Alexa Spaanstra or Ashley Sanchez, but it won’t take long before those two names invade the national soccer consciousness in a substantive way. Both scored goals (Sanchez had three) in a recent friendly against South Korea, which the U.S. won 4-1, to further drive home that point.
As for Spaanstra, she’s only just beginning her U15 career. The recently minted No. 1 in the IMG Top 150 class of 2018 guided the Michigan Hawks to a U14 national championship with five goals in five days during the ECNL Finals in June. That included a hat trick in the semifinal and the title-winning goal in the final minutes, which won her a spot on the U14/U18 Best XI. She’s now with the Hawks’ U15 side, and there won’t be a better player in that age bracket than Spaanstra. And look at that goal. Find some space, bang it off the crossbar and off the keeper’s noggin.
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Article Written by Travis Clark for TopdrawerSoccer.com
Believe it or not, another ECNL season is here already.
With a short break for the second half of summer now over, teams not involved in high school soccer kick start the brand new season. Players across the country will chase championships and the attention of college and national team scouts in the league’s sixth season.
Below is a look at eight players to watch in the ECNL who will be in action this fall.
M Dorian Bailey, Sporting Blue Valley U18: The calm, composed and versatile player is bound for North Carolina next fall. Before making the jump to DI, Bailey will get one last chance to refine her game in the Midwest and lead her U18 side to success on last time.
M Alexa Spaanstra, Michigan Hawks U15: Spaanstra's instincts, undeniable speed and preternatural finishing ability make her arguably the most dangerous striker in her age group in the nation. Spaanstra likes to charge up runs at defenders from the shallow part of the attacking third, and by the time she gets rolling she's nearly impossible to corral. She’s already earned a look from the U.S. U17 WNT and surely will continue to do so as she improves.
F Catarina Macario, San Diego Surf U16: Since coming to the United States and joining the Surf, Macario has poured in the goals the last two seasons. An entertaining and exciting player coveted by the best schools, she’ll aim to reach personal bests this season for the upcoming campaign.
D/F Karlina Sample, Solar Chelsea U15: A versatile player who can play up front or as an outside back, Sample heads into action this fall looking to make her mark on quality Texas opposition.
F Kayla Fong, De Anza Force U16: The scoring outlet on a Force team that excels at scoring goals in bunches, Fong is committed to stay in the Bay Area for college at California . To get an idea of what she is capable of, look no further than her six-goal performance in last weekend’s opening game. Swift, smart with a smooth touch, she’s someone to keep an eye on down the road.
M Katherine Cousins, Richmond United U18: Cousins is not an unknown quantity. The No. 1 ranked recruit for 2015 and Tennessee commit has been involved with various U.S. youth national teams over the past few years. This year is notable because it signals her first involvement in the ECNL, as she’s rostered with the brand new Richmond United side.
F Caroline Conti, Carolina Elite Soccer Academy U16: The U14 GNT attacker notched 10 goals and 11 assists last year for Carolina, and looks poised to play up an age group in the upcoming campaign. She already opened her scoring account over the weekend with a game-winning goal.
M Brooke Wilson, San Diego Surf U14: A quality player from the class of 2018, Wilson joins the ECNL for the first time and will look to lead the Surf U14s to success after winning the U13 national crown at USYS Nationals this past summer.