WOMEN'S NEWS ...The 2009 women's season begins Friday. The weekend play is highlighted by four matches in which both teams are ranked in the Soccer America Women's Preseason Top 25.
FRIDAY:#11 Virginia at #6 Penn State: The Nittany Lions are looking to break the Jeffrey Field record crowd for a women's game set in 2006 (3,206 for Penn State-UCLA on opening day).
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:The game will mark the collegiate debut of Christine Nairn, who delayed her enrollment at Penn State to represent the USA at the 2008 U-20 World Cup. She has since become the first member of the U.S. world champion team to earn a cap at the senior level.
SATURDAY: #3 UCLA at #1 North Carolina: The game is a rematch of last year's College Cup semifinal the Tar Heels won, 1-0, to send the Bruins home from the College Cup without a trophy for the sixth straight year.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:Junior Kylie Wright will have to play a bigger role in the UCLA midfield following the departure of playmaker Tina DiMartino.
SATURDAY: #12 USC at #9 Texas A&M: The Trojans return to College Station, where they won the NCAA title two years ago. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and Texas A&M.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:With Olympic gold-medalist Amy Rodriguez having departed, junior Megan Ohaiwill be counted upon to spark the USC attack. She spent the summer with the U.S. U-23s, playing with USC goalie Kristin Olsen and Aggies Kristin Arnold and Bri Young.
SATURDAY: #24 Oklahoma State at #17 Colorado (Radio: KSBI, 780 AM). The match is a rare conference match to open the season. Both teams are expected to challenge for the Big 12 title with co-favorites Missouri and Texas A&M.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:Shaye Marshall joins older sister Nikki Marshall, who was named to the Soccer America Women's Preseason All-American team, in the Colorado lineup. Shaye, a freshman, made her presence felt in the Buffs' final tuneup, earning an assist on the winning goal in the 2-1 exhibition victory over Northern Colorado.
* All but Boston College, Michigan State, Connecticut and Rutgers kick off their regular-season schedules this weekend:
Soccer America Top 25 Schedule
(BC and UConn meet Saturday in an exhibition. Rutgers scrimmages the University of Montreal Friday. MSU is idle.)