Powers square off on opening weekend

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 Ohai will 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.)

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