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5 storylines to watch in second week of Pac-12 women's soccer play

Sep 29, 2022
Photo courtesy Washington State Athletics

Pac-12 women's soccer resumes conference play this weekend with the first Thursday-Sunday series of the season.

All 12 teams will play two matches across a four-day span, a step up from the first week, which featured one game apiece.

Here are five things to look forward to in the action-packed weekend. The full schedule with game times and broadcast information can be found here.

More magic at Papé Field?

Fresh off an upset of then-No. 15 Washington, Oregon welcomes two more ranked teams to Papé Field this week, hosting No. 1 UCLA and No. 20 USC on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.

Can the Ducks pull off another stunner or two?

It could come down to Leah Freeman, who was named Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week after making a career-high 14 saves against the Huskies.

That, of course, would be nothing new for the Ducks. Oregon has allowed the most shots in the Pac-12 but Freeman leads the Pac-12, by far, in both saves (64) and saves per game (7.11) and is sixth and eighth nationally in those categories, respectively.

Fantastic Four (goalkeepers) in Oregon

Opposite of Freeman this weekend will be UCLA's Lauren Brzykcy, who has collected half of the six Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week honors this season, and USC's Anna Smith.

Brzykcy and Smith have only allowed five goals all season, tied with Washington's Olivia Sekany for the fewest in the Pac-12. Smith was stellar in USC's upset of Stanford last week, stopping a season-high nine shots in the 2-1 win.

And we can't forget about Oregon State's Hailey Coll, who is second in the Pac-12 in saves (38). She, too, will have the task of stopping USC and UCLA's attack this weekend.

Todd Shulenberger on the verge of becoming Washington State's all-time wins leader

The Cougars' eighth-year head coach won his 88th game last week against Oregon State, tying the program record. He will have two chances to make history this weekend when No. 15 Washington State hosts Colorado and Utah.

The way his team has been playing, it seems inevitable to happen. WSU is riding a seven-game winning streak — its longest since 2018 — and has outscored its opponents 21-6 during that stretch.

The Cougars have posted three straight shutouts, but their backline will face arguably its greatest test yet on Thursday. Led by Shyra James, the only player in the Pac-12 with 10 or more goals, Colorado leads the Pac-12 in scoring (3.44 goals per game).

Thursday's match will feature three of the Pac-12's top five scorers — James, WSU's Margie Detrizio and CU's Civana Kuhlmann, who have both netted seven goals apiece.

"They [WSU] are a great team," said head coach Danny Sanchez, who became CU's all-time wins leader last month"They are on a really good roll right now. They don't give up a lot of goals and are very dangerous on the attack. It's a huge challenge for us but it will be a great atmosphere on Thursday night so we're looking forward to it."

Can they keep rising?

Utah (33), USC (39), Oregon (40) and California (50) all moved into the top 50 in RPI this week, joining UCLA (1), Arizona State (31) and Washington State (38). 

While no one will overlook the challenges Oregon has ahead this weekend, this is also a huge opportunity for Utah, which heads to Washington with a chance to open Pac-12 play with consecutive victories for the first time since 2011.

ASU is in a similar situation, seeking its first 2-0 start in conference play since 2007 when it hosts Cal on Thursday.

Can UCLA stay perfect?

At 9-0, UCLA is the only team in Division I women's soccer to have won all of its matches. It's also the Bruins' best start since starting 11-0 in 2001.

If history is any indication, they should fare well in Oregon this weekend. UCLA is 22-2-1 all-time against the Ducks and 23-4 against the Beavers. More recently, the Bruins are unbeaten in their last 15 matchups with Oregon and have won six in a row against Oregon State.

UCLA has also not lost a Pac-12 game since the 2020-21 season.