By Tyler Trent
With Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play now underway, I looked at some of the top performers from the ACC in their non-conference schedule. However, to keep it interesting, I made a best eleven where a team could not appear more than once. This led to some tough choices having to be made with the amount of elite talent in the ACC.
Maggie Cagle (UVA)
The sophomore will be a major point in any potential success the UVA team has this season, with season-ending injuries to Lia Godfrey, Emma Dawson, and Laney Rouse. So far, Cagle has answered the call this season, scoring five goals and providing three assists in seven matches as UVA went undefeated in non-conference play.
Jameese Joseph (NC State)
Joseph scored nine goals and eight goals in the previous two campaigns for NC State. She scored two goals and added one assist in the seven non-conference matches played in her senior season. NC State was projected to be one of the worst teams in the ACC this season, but Joseph has always taken her chance to shine individually, and it appears she will do that once again this season.
Kat Rader (Duke)
Much like Cagle for UVA, Rader will have the weight of Duke’s success this year on her shoulders. Rader has scored four goals and provided one assist in six matches. Three of those goals were much-needed game-winners for her team. Rader currently has half of Duke’s goals on the season as ACC play is set to begin.
Sarah Schupansky (Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh arguably has two of the best attacking players in the ACC, with Schupansky and Amanda West up top this season once again. Schupansky has primarily played up top and has six goals and four assists in eight non-conference matches. In her two previous seasons, she scored seven goals each time and has already met that mark with conference play started.
Taylor Huff (FSU)
The Tennessee transfer was expected to come into a talented Florida State team and be an instant impact maker, and she has delivered. With two goals and five assists in only five non-conference matches played the junior has provided an instant upgrade to a Florida State team that made it to the quarterfinals of the College Cup last season.
Nikayla Small (Wake Forest)
After missing last season due to injury, Small is off to a hot start with five assists in seven non-conference games played this season, matching her total from her All-ACC Freshman Team season in 2021. Small has been able to maximize her utility playing with the talented Caiya Hanks up top for the Demon Deacons this season.
Leah Klenke (Notre Dame)
Probably the most attacking fullback in the league, Klenke has three assists this season in seven games. She is one of the most high-volume ball-carrying progressors in the league but doesn’t shy away from defensive duties and is ranked highly in both interceptions and in aerial dual statistics. Klenke is currently tied for the third most key passes this season in the nation with 8.
Victoria Haugen (Virginia Tech)
Virginia Tech has been a mixed bag of ups and downs overall this season, but Haugen has been strong for the Hokies in defense. The senior defender has been strong on the ground this season and distributed the ball forward into the attack often and accurately to move the ball safely into the attack.
Savy King (UNC)
The only true freshman on this list, King has cemented her place in the center of the UNC backline. The UNC defense only gave up four goals in non-conference play while playing the most challenging non-conference schedule, including games against four teams that were ranked in the top 12 nationally at the time of the match.
Makenna Morris (Clemson)
The Clemson right-back has also been a force in the attack, with seven key passes on the season. Morris has four goals and four assists on the season so far to back those numbers up. Defensively, Clemson only gave up two goals in seven non-conference matchups this season, which makes them one of the best-performing ACC defenses in their non-conference matchups.
Melissa Dagenais (Miami)
Miami has had a tough start to the season, which has seen goalkeeper Dagenais forced to come up with a lot of saves to keep her team in games. The Miami goalkeeper came up with 23 saves and allowed only five goals in six non-conference games this season.
As previously mentioned, when the conference is overflowing with top talent, it's hard to keep it to eleven players. These are some players who have shown up big for their teams in non-conference play that didn't make my original eleven. Melina Rebimbas (UNC), Avery Patterson (UNC), Amanda West (Pittsburgh), Caiya Hanks (Wake Forest), Maycee Bell (UNC), Samantha DeGuzman (Virginia Tech), Taylor Chism (NC State), Olivia Migli (Duke), Allie George (Virginia Tech), Yuna McCormack (UVA), Alia Skinner (Virginia Tech), Lizzie Sexton (Louisville), Erin Flurey (Syracuse)