Women’s College Soccer BIG 10 Preview 2022
The Big Ten had 6 teams reach the NCAA Tournament with 5 of them winning their 1st Round NCAA Tournament game. This extremely competitive conference which had two teams in Elite 8 and one in College Cup with both teams losing to the defending National Champion in close games proves the standard and strength of Big Ten.
Rutgers in 2021 returned to the College Cup for the 2nd time with a historic season and went undefeated by going 10-0 in Big Ten Conference play. The Scarlet knights also return 9 starters with a total of 17 returners. In the College Cup Semi Final Rutgers played a very competitive close game against Florida St losing 1-0 who ended up winning the NCAA Championship. Head Coach Mike O’Neil’s culture and quality at Rutgers has always been strong but maybe this season the Scarlet Knights can go a step further to the Final and win it all.
Rutgers Final RPI 4
Michigan had an outstanding season in 2021 under Head Coach Klein winning the Big Ten Conference Tournament and then going on a great run in the NCAA Tournament to the Elite 8 losing in a tough battle on the road in OT at Florida St the defending National Champions. Michigan will start their Non-Conference campaign with a strong PAC 12 opponent in Washington St who lost in 2nd Round of NCAAs, in addition that same weekend they will play Butler that also reached the NCAA Tournament to test their team for Big Ten Conference play. If Michigan can bring that consistency that they had in the postseason they could go a step further and be playing in the College Cup for the NCAA Championship.
Michigan Final RPI 5
Purdue is another Big Ten program that made big steps last season by getting back to the NCAA Tournament for the 7th Time in program history and losing a tough game on PKs in the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament to Notre Dame. During conference play the Boilermakers came in 2nd with 24 points at 8-2-0. Coach Roff and his staff will look to make it back to back NCAA appearances and achieve the consistency the program had from 2002-2009 where they reached the NCAA Tournament 6 times. They will start their Non-Conference play at home with USC and Vanderbilt. In total they play 3 NCAA Tournament teams in Non-Conference with the last being a rematch against the Fighting Irish at Folk Field to prepare them for the Big Ten Conference. By playing this competitive Non-Conference RPI schedule they will try to boost their numbers again, like last season.
Purdue Final RPI 15
Nittany Lions, the only program to win the NCAA Championship in the Big 10, will look to have another strong season. Last season did not play up to their standard in conference but in Non-Conference play they had two big RPI wins against the ACC at Virginia and home to NC State. In the 2021 NCAA Tournament they reached the 3rd Round and they have that consistent culture of winning NCAA games. Head Coach Dambach will look to get Penn St back to the College Cup for the 6th time in program history and with the ambitions to take the title like they did in 2015. Their Non-Conference schedule is always very competitive and a trip out west to play two top programs in Stanford and Santa Clara will get them ready for the Big Ten Conference.
Penn St Final RPI 19
Wisconsin was another program that under performed in the Big Ten Conference but was very tough to beat finishing with 3-3-4 record. They tied a league leader 6 games last season and would look to build upon that defensive mentality like a 0-0 tie at Michigan and will look to be more lively in the final third this season. In the NCAA Tournament they reached the 3rd Round losing to a very good Santa Clara team that at the time was defending National Champions from the Spring Covid Season. The Badgers will be looking to make a deep NCAA Tournament run with a testing competitive start with Non-Conference schedule and two road games at TCU and Notre Dame will get them battle ready for the Big Ten.
Wisconsin RPI 34
The Buckeyes will be looking to make three NCAA Tournament appearances in a row this season and their 16th overall. A strong competitive history with two Big Ten Championships in both the league and in the tournament and reaching the College Cup in 2010 they are always ready to compete in the Big Ten. This season they will start their Non-Conference campaign with games at Kansas and Missouri to then come back to kick off their home schedule with National Runners up BYU to prepare them for the Big Ten. Last year they knocked off Penn St on the road and Michigan at home and Head Coach Walker-Hock and her staff will be looking for that high level performance throughout the season.
Ohio St Final RPI 44
Last Season Indiana made a big step in the rebuilding of the program and just missed out on being the 7th team in the NCAA Tournament for the Big Ten. They start their Non-Conference campaign with a very competitive road trip to play West Virginia and Virginia Tech who both consistently make the NCAA Tournament then return home to play two 2021 NCAA Tournament opponents in Notre Dame and Memphis. Head Coach Van Bennekom enters his 4th season and the Hoosiers will have every reason to be ready again this season and look to use last season’s experience to get them back to the NCAA Tournament for the 5th time in program history.
Indiana Final RPI 47
Michigan St will look to continue their path towards getting back to the NCAA Tournament after a strong 2021 season. The Spartans have not reached the NCAAs since 2009 and came close to gaining a berth with a 58 RPI under New Head Coach Hosler. This 2022 season will give another opportunity to build upon the winning culture established last season and in the Non-Conference two NCAA Tournament opponents are awaiting both road games with MAC Conference Champions Bowling Green and SEC Conference Champions Arkansas. Ultimately it will most likely come down to the Big Ten and can they improve on finishing 5th considering three teams below them in the standings reached the NCAA Tournament could bode very well for the Spartans this season.
Michigan St Final RPI 58
Iowa has been on a strong competitive surge the past three years reaching the NCAA Tournament twice and wasn’t too far off last season even finishing 4th in the Big Ten. They will start their Non-Conference play on the road at defending PAC 12 Champs UCLA. In 2020 the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten Conference Tournament for the first time and will look to find that quality again to get back to the NCAAs, Six starters return to give a foundation to build upon this upcoming season.
Iowa Final RPI 69
Nebraska will be looking to find the form they found at the end of the season winning their last three Big Ten games. The Huskers have made the NCAA Tournament 12 times with the last time in 2016. The Non-Conference schedule gets the most challenging at the end with two NCAA Tournament teams to play at home in North Carolina St and USC which should get them ready for the start of the Big Ten. Nebraska is always tough to play. The question is can they find the consistency to get them back to the NCAA Tournament.
Nebraska Final RPI 99
The Golden Gophers will look to build on last season’s strong Non-Conference performance of 4-0-3 with no goals against. In the Big Ten Minnesota was inconsistent and went 4-6-0 but had two strong wins over NCAA Tournament teams Ohio St and Penn St. Second year Head Coach Chastain who knows the land of Golden Gophers rather well returned home to her Alma Mater looking to find their 12th NCAA Tournament Berth. They start Non-Conference with a road trip to Texas playing two Big 12 opponents in Baylor and Conference Champions TCU will be a good early test. If they can be consistently balanced competitively in Non-Conference and in the Big Ten they will give themselves a strong opportunity to get into the NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota Final RPI 102
The Wildcats ended the season on a tough stretch losing their last 5 games by 1 goal in close contests. A team that was inconsistent last year will look to get back on track with two Big 12 opponents on the road in Kansas and Kansas St. The final three games before the start of Big Ten are three NCAA Tournament opponents from last season Xavier, Stanford and Butler. This is good preparation to improve and compete for a NCAA Berth this season. They have reached the NCAA Tournament 6 times and won the Big Ten in 2016 under current Head Coach Moyihan. The experience is there finding the consistency of years past will be key.
Northwestern Final RPI 110
The Illini will be looking to put the 2021 season behind them with only 5 wins overall. A program with a rich tradition of reaching the NCAA Tournament with 12 appearances is looking to start their Non-Conference off with the right focus to propel them into the Big Ten. Last season in the Big Ten they lost 2-1 in double OT at Michigan and tied Wisconsin so the quality is there but can they put it together on a more consistent basis will be the challenge this season.
Illinois Final RPI 122
New Head Coach new purpose is on deck for the Terps, Meghan Ryan Nemzer will begin her Non-Conference play at Temple and will look to change the culture in the direction that she was a big part of for the Scarlet Knights for many years. Maryland played 4 OT games last season in the Big Ten tying three of them and losing in OT at Michigan so the competitiveness is there to make the next step to creating a winning culture.
Maryland Final RPI 179
The Big Ten will put its stamp on college soccer again this season and with the quality and depth in this conference it may be that they put the final stamp of the season in the National Championship game.
In addition the Big Ten recently added two very lively to say the least Los Angeles Colleges to join down the road which is only going to make this an even stronger conference.
Games to Watch
Thursday August 18th Iowa at UCLA 9PM CST PAC 12 NETWORK
Friday August 28th BYU at Ohio St 7:30 PM EST BIG TEN NETWORK
Thursday September 8th Notre Dame at Purdue 7PM EST BIG TEN NETWORK
Sunday September 11th Michigan at Toledo 1PM EST ESPN3
Thursday September 22nd Rutgers at Penn St 6PM EST BIG TEN NETWORK
Thursday October 20th Rutgers at Michigan 7PM EST BIG TEN NETWORK
Sunday October 23rd Indiana at Michigan 1PM EST BIG TEN NETWORK