We already talked about tonight's season opener for men's soccer, so we'll start the Weekend Preview with the only home game of the weekend!
Match 2: vs UW-Green Bay (0-0-0)
The Phoenix are coming in off of a 2-10-4 campaign in 2012 that didn't leave them with much as far as bright spots go. Both of their wins came in August and they were shutout in three of their final four matches. On top of that, two of their three scorers who had more than a single goal have departed, leaving Sam Krenzien as the lone offensive threat of note. They're going to also have to replace the two keepers that they had last year, so second year head coach Dan Popik has his work cut out for him.
UW-GB split their two exhibition matches, snagging a 1-0 home win against St. Thomas with freshman defender Jeremy Nji accounting for the goal, and falling 1-0 to Wisconsin in Madison. Kyle Ihn played the majority of the time in net against Bucky, so he seems like he'll get the nod in net against Marquette. Green Bay will open their season with a road match against DePaul tonight.
Marquette comes into the 2013 season with a full head of steam coming off of the first two NCAA tournament appearances in program history. While head coach Bond Shymansky will have to find away to replace a prolific trio of departed seniors, things are in good shape as senior setter Elizabeth Koberstein was named Big East Co-Preseason Player Of The Year and junior outside hitter Lindsey Gosh was named to the preseason all-conference team. The Golden Eagles are picked to finish second in the Big East behind #25 Creighton, and while that's not surprising, it's also by default as Marquette hasn't lost to a Big East team not named Creighton since 2010.
Match 1: at Bowling Green (0-0)
The Falcons won the MAC tournament in 2012 and won their first ever NCAA tournament match before running into the buzzsaw that is Penn State volleyball in the second round. As for 2013, Bowling Green is the favorite to win the East division of the MAC and co-favorites to win the MAC tournament along with division rival Ohio. Three Falcons seniors were named to the All-MAC East preseason team. Lindsey Butterfield, Paige Penrod, and Danielle Tonyan are all outside hitters and combined to average 9.92 kills per set in 2012. Senior Laura Avila returns as setter after averaging 10.25 assists/set a year ago, while senior Laura Dunn anchors the back line with 4.37 digs/set last year.
Match 2: vs #13 BYU (0-0)
You may have noticed the location for this match being identical to the Bowling Green match. Both matches are part of BGSU's Hampton Inn Invitational, which is the only tournament on this opening weekend of competition to feature four 2012 NCAA tournament teams. The fourth team involved is #25 Creighton, and while Marquette will not be playing the Bluejays, you can be sure that head coach Bond Shymansky will be keeping a close on on the team that he will have to coach against twice later in the season.
In 2012, BYU finished with a 27-4 record and a share of the West Coast Conference's regular season title. They advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament before dropping a 3-1 loss to national fifth seed Oregon. The only significant loss from that team was setter Heather Hannemann, who averaged 11.17 assists per set and drifted into the back line to average 2.41 digs per set as well. BYU picked up five of the 10 first place votes in the WCC's preseason coaches' poll to earn the nod as the favorite to win the conference title. Only sophomore Alexa Gray earned preseason all-conference honors, which is dumbfounding. Gray averaged 3.26 kills/set in 2012, but junior Jennifer Hamson assembled a stat line of 4.09 kills (a team high), 0.29 aces (a team high), 1.84 digs, and 1.26 blocks per set while playing in every single set last year. I can not confirm at this time that Hamson is in fact only one person, which might be why the WCC coaches were reluctant to put her on the all-conference team.
The Golden Eagles enter the weekend 1-1-0 after splitting a trip to Portland and Portland State. The first 165 minutes of the trip were not a fun time, as MU lost 1-0 to the nationally rankedbefore exploding for three goals in the final 15 minutes against the Portland State Vikings to earn a 3-2 win, their first of the season. Top Drawer Soccer and the NSCAA have Marquette ranked #20 this week, with Soccer America slotting MU in at 25th in their rankings.
Match 3: vs #2/#5 UCLA (2-0-0)
The season has gotten off to a rousing start for the Bruins with a 4-0 win over Northeastern and a 3-0 victory over Cal State Northridge. Impressively, UCLA managed to spread the goals around in each game, although both senior midfielder Jenna Richmond and freshman forward Darian Jenkins scored in both matches. Junior keeper Katelyn Rowland got the start in both matches and went the full 90 against CSN, so you can expect to see her again this afternoon.
UCLA got seven of the 12 first place votes in the poll of the Pac-12 coaches to earn the spot as the favorite to win the league this year. The Bruins have four members of the US U-23 team on the roster, including the aforementioned Richmond and MAC Herrman Watch List member Abby Dahlkemper. UCLA also has some senior team international experience on the roster, as Rosie White (New Zealand) and Chelsea Stewart (Canada) represented their countries in both the 2012 Olympics and the 2011 Women's World Cup. I'm saying they're really good.
Match 4: vs Oakland (1-1-0)
Where: Alumni Stadium, South Bend, IN
When: Sunday, September 1, 10am Central
Audio/Visual: You'll get live stats and like it.
I don't know what to make of how the Golden Grizzlies have started the season.
On one hand, they roared through Eastern Illinois by a final of 5-1, powered by three goals in a seven minute span of the second half. On the other hand, #19 Michigan gave them a dose of their own medicine by beating Oakland 6-1. Senior forward Meghan Reynolds had goals in both games and an assist against EIU, while fellow senior forward Serena San Cartier had two goals and an assist in the EIU match. Senior Payj O'Shea went the full 90 against EIU and got lifted at halftime against Michigan, so she seems likely to end up in net again on Sunday.
Oakland is led by interim head coach Dave Morgan, as head coach Nick O'Shea resigned in July after 19 seasons. It's kind of an odd move, as Oakland won both the regular season and tournament titles in the Summit League and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament by beating #4 seed Ohio State on penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 draw in the first round. Oakland is now in the Horizon League and they're picked to finish fourth, behind three teams that all earned at least one first place vote in the balloting.