While many of the FBS teams “cowardly,” as Hope Solo might say, pad their schedules with FCS opponents with little chance of winning early season matches, Soccer players have balls. It is a small sampling, but if the opening week of the 2016 NCAA women’s soccer is any indication, this could be the most competitive season ever. Duke, ranked second by NCAA coaches, and defending champions Penn State, were both knocked off last week.

A miracle in Fayetteville

In the upset of the weekend, unranked Arkansas topped the Blue Devils 2-1 Aug. 26 at Razorback Field in front of a record-setting crowd of 3,010, to improve to 3-0 for the year.

Duke fell to 3-1. Lindsey Mayo’s kickhit the back of the net to give Arkansas a 1-0 lead at the 20 minute mark. Mayo was assisted by senior Claire Kelley. The Razorbacks pulled ahead to a 2-0 lead after freshman midfielder Stefani Doyle scored an unassisted goal late in the 49th minute. The score was Doyle’s fourth goal in three games. Blue Devil frosh Olivia Erlbeck answered unassisted in the 75th minute of play to narrow the lead to 2-1.

Mormons conquer lions

It was the Ashley Hatch show in State College, PA, Aug. 28.The senior’s second career hat trick pushed No. 14 BYU (2-1) past defending national champs and No. 5 Penn State (1-1-1). Hatch scored her third goal of the night from six yards out to give the Cougars a 3-2 lead in the 78th minute.

Jimenez nearly perfect

Three was the charm for Rutgers goalkeeper Alana Jimenez. Her third shutout of the season helped the Scarlet Knights to a 2-0 decision over No. 10 UConn (3-1) Aug. 28. Jimenez made six saves in the game. Madison Tiernan scored the game-winner for Rutgers (3-0-1) off s Nicole Whiteley assist in the 24th minute.

Brittany LaPlant scored the other goal on a corner kick that created a frenzy in front of the net.

Not an upset, but…

Third-ranked Stanford held off No. 6 Florida 1-0 in overtime Aug. 26 in a game that would be a classic, if mainstream media recognized women’s soccer. Sophomore midfielder Jordan DiBiasi scored off her rebound for the Cardinal victory.

Stanford (3-0) earned back-to-back corners in the 95th minute. DiBiasi took advantage of the second. Andi Sullivan sent in a looping ball from the right corner that was cleared to the center of the field about 25 yards out. Stanford’s Tegan McGrady put the ball back into the box where it was headed on by Maddie Bauer, then Kyra Carusa, before falling to the foot of DiBiasi. The Gators fell to 2-1.

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