The No. 7 Virginia Women's Soccer team is opening up the season in a big way, against No. 8 Penn State. The Nittany Lions dominates the all-time series over Virginia, 6-2-1, including a 3-2 win at Klockner last year. But the Hoos will be without both their head coach and their preseason All-American.
Both head coach Steve Swanson and midfielder Morgan Brian, who was named to both the Soccer America Preseason Team and the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, will be absent tonight, as they are in Japan coaching, and playing for, the U.S. Under-20 National Team.
Don't expect that to serve as any excuse, though, as Penn State will be missing some players of their own. The Nittany Lions' All-American forward Maya Hayes, who led the country last year with 31 goals, and midfielder Taylor Schram will both also be in Japan as Brian's teammates.
The Hoos have played two exhibition matches before the season, which resulted in a 0-2 loss to Notre Dame and a 0-0 tie with Georgetown. On the flip side, Penn State defeated Villanova 3-1 in their only exhibition of the season.
Both teams return the bulk of their offensive firepower, which should make for an exciting matchup tonight. Virginia reached the NCAA Quarterfinals last year, while Penn State was one step behind in the Round of 16.
The season opening kick is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in Charlottesville, and the Hoos will take on Radford on Sunday at 2:00 p.m., also at Klockner.