Catarina Macario (credit Al Chang/Stanford Athletics)
METUCHEN, NJ - The first weekend of the fall competitive season in college women's soccer was a wild one with top matchups and statement wins. United Women's Soccer (UWS) alumnae were in the thick of it contributing to the success of top-ranked and up-and-coming teams alike. One of the more anticipated encounters on opening weekend was the matchup pitting the No. 3-nationally-ranked Stanford Cardinal against the No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions. Stanford pulled out the tough 2-1 win on the road in front of the second-largest crown in Penn State history (5,230) via a brace from LA Galaxy OC star and 2019 UWS Championship MVP Catarina Macario while her club teammate Kate Wiesner scored for the hosts. Macario earned her third-career Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honor for her performance and helped the Cardinal start the season 2-0 after a 3-1 victory over No. 11 West Virginia.
Penn State bounced back after that loss and cruised past Hofstra University by a 6-0 score in a non-conference matchup. Senior captain Ellie Jean - a 2019 All-UWS selection for the New England Mutiny - notched her first career goal in the victory. In other Big Ten Conference news on opening weekend, former Detroit Sun defender Hannah Drkulec was named the Defensive Player of the Week as she anchored a University of Iowa defense that allowed just four shots in wins over Western Michigan and Northern Iowa. 2019 UWS Defensive Player of the Year and University of Michigan goalkeeper Hillary Beall picked up two wins in net that included a shutout win over Marshall University. The LAGOC star made five saves in two matches and allowed just one goal in the victories.
Going back to the Pac-12, UCLA forward and Santa Clarita Blue Heat star Ashley Sanchez kept up her 15-game scoring streak in two wins over Long Beach State and Iowa State. Sanchez had a hand in three of the four goals scored and was named the UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week for her goal, two-assist weekend. LAGOC midfielder Taylor Kornieck helped the University of Colorado earn a pair of shutouts as her goal early in the second half put the Buffaloes on the board and helped defeat Drake by a 2-0 score. The senior midfielder is currently tied for the Pac-12 lead in shots (11). The No. 5-ranked University of Southern California Trojans also opened up with a pair of road wins over San Francisco and Hawai'i. All-UWS selections Tara McKeown (Santa Clarita) and Natalie Jacobs (LAGOC) were instrumental in both wins with McKeown tallying four points (2g, 1a). Blue Heat star Penelope Hocking also notched a goal and two assists in the USC wins.
Melina Couzis (credit UConn Athletics)
The American Athletic Conference announced the winners of the weekly women's soccer honors and Calgary Foothills Women's FC midfielder Mya Jones was honored as the Rookie of the Week for the University of Memphis. The freshman made her first two collegiate starts and tallied a pair of assists in Memphis' 6-0 win against Little Rock on Thursday and was also pivotal in the Tigers' 3-1 win over Ole Miss. With the game tied at 1-1 in the 88th minute, Jones' cross into the box was deflected by a Rebel defender into the back of the net for an own goal. Her Calgary Foothills team mate Tanya Boychuk also had her say, scoring a brace in the victory over Little Rock. In other AAC action, the University of Connecticut bounced back from a tough loss in their opener and shut out Fairfield University by a 3-0 score. Two UWS East rivals were vital for UConn in the win as All-UWS selection Vivien Beil (Connecticut Fusion) and midfielder Melina Couzis (New England Mutiny) provided two of the three goals.
The BIG EAST Conference announced their first edition of their weekly awards and UWS alumnae swept all three individual honors. Indiana Union midfielder Katie Soderstrom was named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week for Butler University as she tallied two goals and four assists (eight points) in wins over Morehead State and IUPUI while former Union defender Annika Schmidt was the Defensive Player of the Week - also for Butler. Lancaster Inferno forward Jackie Richards had an eventful opening weekend to college soccer and was awarded BIG EAST Freshman of the Week honors. She earned her first start for Xavier University against reigning Ohio Valley champions Murray State on Thursday before scoring the game-winning goal against MAC champs Bowling Green on Sunday. 2019 Midwest Player of the Year and Xavier star Samantha Dewey (Indiana Union) and Providence College midfielder Christina Rodgers (New Jersey Copa FC) also made the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll. Macario, Sanchez, McKeown, Soderstrom and Dewey were named to the Top Drawer Women's Team of the Week (August 27) for their efforts.
Zoe Morse (credit UVA Athletics)
In the Northeast Conference, a trio of UWS alumnae were named NEC Prime Performers. Bryant goalkeeper Meghan Dalton (Connecticut Fusion) made nine saves in their 2-1 season-opening win over Iona. Central Connecticut State University midfielder Roma McLaughlin (New England Mutiny) scored for the Blue Devils against No. 19 Rutgers on CCSU's first shot of the game. Robert Morris goalkeeper Sydney Bruckner (Lancaster Inferno) stopped seven shots in the Colonials' opener vs. Bucknell and also entered at the half in the game against Purdue Fort Wayne and shut down the Mastadons, making a pair of late saves to preserve a 1-1 draw. In the ACC, No. 9 University of Virginia opened with a pair of impressive shutouts over UC-Irvine and Liberty with thanks to Lansing United defender Zoe Morse. You can read a VirginiaSports.com feature on her by clicking HERE. Morse's Lansing United team mate and All-Midwest selection Dani Stephan scored in Michigan State University's 3-1 victory over Utah Valley State while another LU star Camryn Evans (another All-Midwest honoree) added two assists in the Spartans' win over Marshall.
At the Division II level, the defending NCAA Women's Soccer National Champion University of Bridgeport have been selected as the East Coast Conference's preseason favorite in a vote by the league's coaches. Bridgeport standout Maegen Doyle (Connecticut Fusion) was selected as the ECC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Doyle - an All-East selection for the Fusion as the team's leading scorer (8g, 2a) this past summer - had one of the best offensive seasons in conference history a year ago. The Harwich-England-native tied an ECC single-season record with 28 goals of which 13 were game-winners: leading the nation. She ranked second in goals and finished third with 59 points. After putting up such gaudy statistics while leading the Purple Knights to a National Championship, Doyle was named the USC Division II National Player of the Year and a consensus First Team All-American. Doyle claimed the ECC Offensive Player of the Year and Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) East Region Player of the Year honors as well.