The college soccer season kicks off today with a full slate of women’s games, including five of the six Philly schools opening their seasons.
Villanova and Drexel will host games at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. while Temple and La Salle both open their seasons on the road in North Carolina. Penn has a home exhibition game against Canadian team CS Monteuil and Saint Joseph’s is on the road at Drexel.
Villanova has a chance to grab some national attention early with defending SEC champions LSU coming to town for a 4 p.m. kickoff at Higgins Soccer Complex. Nova beat LSU on the road last season in a four-hour affair because of rain delays.
They’re picked to finish seventh in the Big East this season, but head coach Chris McLain has another promising group coming in that includes eight first-years and transfers Sam Rosette (Virginia) and Brice McInroy (Tennessee) to try and build on a nine-win season a year ago.
Drexel will play host to Saint Joseph’s in an intriguing local match-up between two teams that had a strong defensive record in 2018 (Drexel conceded 19 goals in 19 games, St. Joe’s 17 in 21 games). The Hawks return players who accounted or 25 of their 38 goals last season with grad student Dakota Mills looking to add to her 35 career goals after finishing second behind Morgan Bower’s team-leading eight goals last season. Drexel returns six starters and will have a new-look back line but have senior goalkeeper Libby Baeza to lead them from the back.
La Salle and Temple both begin their seasons in ACC country. La Salle faces a tough task against preseason No. 8 Duke in Chapel Hill and Temple visits preseason No. 23 Wake Forest. Both games are being broadcast on the ACC Network on the WatchESPN app. The Explorers play at 4 p.m. and the Owls at 7 p.m.
La Salle is looking to bounce back from a frustrating 2018 campaign. Fifth-year senior Maci Bower is back after missing last season but they’ve lost Molly O’Brien to a season-long injury.
They add eight first-year players to the roster and will look to Jess Shanahan (7 assists last year) for leadership in the midfield, Australian goalkeeper Claudia Jenkins to organize things in the back and all-rookie selection Camaren Cox to build on her standout rookie season (5 goals, 1 assist).
Temple is coming off a 7-11-1 season in 2018, but finished in sixth in the American Athletic to earn a berth into the postseason despite being picked to finish 10th. This year’s squad is captained by captained by junior Julia Dolan and seniors Morgan Basileo, Emily Keitel and Molly Tobin and are led in the attack by junior Emma Wilkins and sophomore Gabriela Johnson, who combined for 11 goals last season.
Penn’s exhibition game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Rhodes Field. They open their season in California on August 30 against 2017 national champions Stanford, which open the season ranked third.