Florida State continues to impress
It shapes up as a quiet weekend for the top of the table. Among the top five teams in this week's power rankings, only Texas A&M faces an opponent ranked in the NSCAA Top 25 when Florida comes to College Station for the first edition of the SEC's new marquee rivalry. But a number of games between teams chasing Florida State in the ACC, plus a West Coast Conference showdown between BYU and Santa Clara means this week could thin the herd.
1. Florida State (11-0-0)The Seminoles remained unbeaten and impenetrable in shutout wins at North Carolina -- which included a save-of-the-year candidate by keeper Kelsey Wys -- and NC State last week. Florida State played eight games in September and allowed a single goal, including clean sheets against Duke, Wake Forest and North Carolina, the last the program's first win against the Tar Heels that didn't require overtime. Dagny Brynjarsdottir scored the winner in each game last week.
2. UCLA (9-0-2)Senior Zakiya Bywaters scored twice in a 2-1 win at Arizona and once in a 4-1 win at Arizona State last week to push her team-leading season total to nine goals, one better than her first three seasons combined. Another road swing to the Oregon schools awaits this week. Oregon State was an occasionally tricky stop for UCLA under former coach Jill Ellis, including a 3-0 loss to the Beavers in her final visit in 2010.
3. Stanford (9-1-1)The Cardinal finally conceded, ending a streak of five consecutive shutouts, but that's the only quibble with the defending champions after wins at home against Oregon State (5-1) and Oregon (2-1). Sophomore Chioma Ubogagu scored against Oregon State, her first since returning from the U-20 World Cup. This week brings the first Pac-12 road swing through Utah and Colorado. Six of Stanford's final eight games in the regular season are on the road.
4. Penn State (10-2-0)Make it seven goals in five games for Maya Hayes, who kept up her torrid scoring pace since returning from the U-20 World Cup with three goals in wins on the road at Ohio State and at home against Minnesota. She added two more in a victory Tuesday night over Bucknell. Since the beginning of October last season, Hayes has scored 25 goals in 19 games for Penn State. Conference strength and recent postseason stumbles will always raise questions about the Nittany Lions, but the results are there.
5. Texas A&M (11-1-0)If a scoreless streak had to come to an end, it might as well be in a game like Texas A&M's 2-2 draw at Kentucky. It marked the first dropped points in SEC play and the first goal allowed in eight games, but it was an entertaining display and a game in which the Aggies twice rallied from a goal down to salvage points. Now comes the biggest weekend of the year: a potential trap game against Alabama followed by Sunday's visit from Florida (ESPNU, 1:30 p.m. ET).
6. Duke (8-3-1)It was a tough-luck loss in an evenly played match in which Duke didn't have forward Kelly Cobb, but a 1-0 loss at Virginia on a goal in the closing minutes still represents dropped points for the Blue Devils. They have yet to take maximum points out of a week since conference play began, something they did repeatedly last season. This week, traveling to Virginia Tech and hosting Boston College, is a big test, with anything from no points to six points possible.
7. Maryland (8-3-2)In four games against Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest, Maryland has taken 10 of a possible 12 points. That's all that needs to be said to justify moving up to No. 7 despite Sunday's 1-0 loss at Virginia Tech. Taking care of business as favorites in this week's trip to NC State (ESPN3, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET), the lone game of the week for the Terrapins, could be key in eventually securing a home quarterfinal in the ACC tournament.
8. Virginia (10-2-1)This is life in the ACC. For about 177 minutes of soccer, Virginia appeared headed for a disappointing week. Then a late goal from Makenzy Doniak rescued a 1-0 win against Duke on Sunday and largely erased the sting of a 3-1 loss at Maryland days earlier in which the Terrapins scored all three of their goals between the 74th and 87th minutes. Friday's meeting with Wake Forest is one of the games of the week in the ACC.
9. BYU (11-1-0)There is no doubt that BYU belongs in this company when it plays at home. Last week's win against Utah Valley was a formality, but the Cougars have already knocked off Penn State, Washington, Texas and Long Beach State, among others, in Provo. Thursday's WCC showdown against Santa Clara won't give the Cougars a road test, but it will give an all-senior back line that has conceded just four goals in the past 11 games another challenge.
10. North Carolina (6-3-2)North Carolina played the No. 1 team on even footing and might have headed to overtime if not for Wys' tremendous save on Crystal Dunn's shot. A 6-1 win against Miami two days later answered any questions about a hangover. Now, thanks to the surprising group-stage exit by the United States in the Under-17 World Cup, Anson Dorrance will soon be able to put Summer Green, Dunn, Kealia Ohai and Amber Brooks on the field together for the first time this season.
• Georgetown (11-1-0) is knocking at the door of the power rankings and has two prime opportunities to validate its record in the coming days, first at Louisville on Sunday and five days later at home against Notre Dame. But it's safe to say sophomore Daphne Corboz has the nation's attention after scoring five goals in last week's 8-0 win against Pittsburgh. Corboz is now first in the nation in goals and goals per game among players from major conferences. She added an assist for good measure, breaking the Big East record in the process with 11 points in the game.
• Corboz put on a show, but she wasn't the only one piling up big numbers last week. Dayton All-American Colleen Williams totaled four goals and four assists during her team's two-game swing to Rhode Island and Massachusetts. That leaves her tied for most goals in Dayton history (she already owns the assists record). The Flyers are tied atop the Atlantic 10 early in conference play and are second in the nation in scoring at 3.36 goals per game.
• Fresh off a loss against Pepperdine in a quasi-home game (the teams played in Cambridge, Mass., on Saturday because of a football game on campus), Boston College faces the biggest week of its season with games Thursday at North Carolina (ESPN3, 7 p.m. ET) and Sunday at Duke. Also available on ESPN3 this weekend: LSU at Florida (Friday, 7:30 p.m.), Tennessee at Auburn (Sunday, 2 p.m.) and Vanderbilt at LSU (Sunday, 2 p.m.)