We selected five teams who have been on hot streaks in the second half of the season and who are making a run towards an NCAA Tournament spot. The poll will close Friday at Noon Pacific, so be sure to get your vote in on time.
W 4-1 vs Memphis
T 0-0 at SMU
W 1-0 at Houston
W 3-0 vs UCF
W 3-1 vs South Florida
W 1-0 at Temple
W 2-0 at Cincinnati
W 2-1 at East Carolina
Why the Huskies Deserve to Win
It's one thing to win a league title, it's another to do it when you have pressure breathing down your neck the entire way. But that's what UConn did in October, crushing Memphis, in what looks like a very good win in retrospect, before taking their only blemish in AAC play by drawing against SMU.
There wasn't a truly explosive performance over the following weeks, but UConn's consistency in a season marked by inconsistency by so many other teams was noteworthy. While Memphis pushed them to the wire, the Huskies would hold their nerve and win their last six matches to claim a well deserved and hard fought for league title that made up for a patchy non-conference season.
UConn has just two players with more than one goal, but when you consider Stephanie Ribeiro and Rachel Hill have combined for thirty-two of them, that lack of diversity in attack becomes much more manageable. With five clean sheets in October, nobody can accuse the Huskies of being solely focused on the attack either.
As #1 seeds in the AAC Tournament, UConn will be favored to bring home another trophy and could be a dark horse in the NCAA Tournament.[divider]
W 5-1 vs Western Michigan
W 4-0 at Akron
W 1-0 vs Buffalo
T 1-1 at Central Michigan
T 0-0 at Eastern Michigan
W 3-0 vs Miami (OH)
L 1-2 vs Ball State
W 3-2 at Ohio
W 2-0 vs Eastern Michigan
Why the Golden Flashes Deserve to Win
Kent State is hosting the final rounds of the MAC Tournament through a bit of good fortune after #1 seed Ball State was felled on penalties in the quarterfinals, but the Golden Flashes deserve all the credit in the world for making it to this point. Most had predicted KSU to take a step forward in the MAC this season, and they've handled the pressure adeptly for much of the season.
After roaring out to a strong start in league play at the end of September, KSU kept the run going with three straight wins to open up the month before extending their unbeaten streak in the month to six matches following a couple of draws and another win against Miami (OH). While KSU would suffer their only loss of league play against Ball State, consigning them to second in the league, they held their nerve in the MAC Tournament quarterfinals to advance and earn hosting rights this weekend.
Canadian senior forward Jenna Hellstrom was tipped for a massive final season here, and she's more than lived up to the hype, combining for thirteen goals and ten assists thus far. That includes six goals and six assists in October, with the star forward chipping in with assists on both goals in the win over EMU last Sunday.
Now favorites for the MAC Tournament title and the accompanying auto bid, KSU looks like a side that could cause problems for someone in the NCAA Tournament.[divider]
W 4-1 at Seton Hall
W 1-0 at Butler
W 3-0 vs Villanova
L 0-1 at Saint John’s (NY)
W 2-1 vs Providence
W 4-1 at Georgetown
L 2-3 at Marquette
Why the Blue Demons Deserve to Win
Most probably gave up on the Blue Demons after a brutal non-conference stretch that saw the club win just one of its first seven matches. But as the season moved along, it became clear that DePaul had faced a pretty tough slate of opponents for the most part and were a much better team than they appeared to be early in the season.
Just how much better became evident as league play began, as the Blue Demons won their first five league matches and torched opposing defenses in the process. After a slight setback at Saint John's (NY), DePaul would clinch a share of the league title with wins against fellow NCAA Tournament hopefuls Providence and Georgetown. The latter was one of the most impressive wins by any team all season, as DePaul crushed the Hoyas on their home turf by a 4-1 margin.
DePaul's offense has been one of the nation's most dangerous, with five players coming into this week with at least six goals to their name. That includes Franny Cerny, who has netted eight goals on the year, with five coming as match winners, and Abby Reed, who leads the side with eleven goals on the season. DePaul's offensive prowess has made them a clear contender to poach an auto bid this week.
That firepower also makes them a dangerous opponent in the NCAA Tournament if they make it in, and few will relish trying to stop DePaul's attack if they're matched up in the first round with the Blue Demons.[divider]
W 2-0 at Colorado State
T 1-1 vs San Diego State
W 2-1 vs New Mexico
W 1-0 at Air Force
W 4-1 at Colorado College
T 1-1 vs Boise State
W 1-0 vs Utah State
W 4-2 at Nevada
Why The Rebels Deserve to Win
Forever a program in slumber, UNLV supporters have been dreaming of a rise to the top of the Mountain West for a decade now. After an unbeaten October, those supporters needn't dream any more, as the Rebels were crowned league champions following a 4-2 win over Nevada to close out league play.
While the Rebels were solid in non-conference play, few probably tipped them for such honors after losing their league opener to San Jose State in September. It's the last time the Rebels have tasted defeat though, as UNLV has promptly reeled off ten matches unbeaten, a mark that propelled them up the league table and saw them raise the league title after others faltered down the stretch while they finished with a pair of wins.
The Rebels' success story would be impossible without the improbable rise of senior Lily Sender, who was scarcely used in her first two seasons and a reserve last year. The Hawaiian has been one of the breakout players of the year nationwide, scoring fourteen goals and adding seven assists to one of the league's deadliest attacks. For good measure, the club also boasts the newly crowned league Defensive Player of the Year in Chidera Akubuilo.
It remains to be seen if the Rebels can finish a remarkable double this week, but few are doubting them after a revelatory season.[divider]
T 1-1 at Fordham
W 3-2 at Rhode Island
W 2-1 at La Salle
W 5-2 vs Richmond
W 3-2 at Duquesne
W 2-1 vs Saint Louis
W 4-0 vs Davidson
W 2-1 at UMass
W 2-1 vs Saint Bonaventure
Why The Hawks Deserve to Win
Saint Joseph's lost a hard fought match at Rutgers on the second weekend of the season, and they haven't looked back since, going 15-0-2 after that loss. The result has been a dream season for SJU supporters who have been waiting for the Hawks to soar in the A10 for years. It's been a run that's not only brought the program a much coveted league title but also even put them on the fringe of at-large bid discussion should they need one.
But given their results thus far in 2016, it's hard seeing any A10 side stop these Hawks. Other than a draw at the beginning of October, A10 defenses have withered against Saint Joseph's, with the league champs having netted an astonishing twenty-three goals in their past eight matches, all wins. It's made SJU one of the nation's most dangerous teams and partially covered up for a defense that hasn't been quite as consistent.
Most knew about Emily Gingrich coming into the season, with the senior likely to go down as one of the A10's most impressive players ever after a sterling career. But the continued growth of sophomore forward Dakota Mills has been equally important, as Mills has built on a great rookie season by knocking sixteen goals in as a sophomore to this point. The tandem has burned up the league's defenses, and though Gingrich has missed the past two matches, SJU will look to do the same in the conference tournament this week.
If Gingrich is back for the postseason, these Hawks could be problematic for a foe should they end up in the field of sixty-four.
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