Brenna Ochoa

Brenna Ochoa (28) passes the ball during a game against Michigan State on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Husker soccer schedule this season is loaded with teams which made the postseason last year. Kansas was their first test and they struggled in a 4-0 loss as Jayhawks senior Katie McClure scored three of their four goals. 

The Huskers travel back to Lincoln to open their home schedule with the Clemson Tigers. Clemson put together a strong season last year, finishing 12-9. That was good enough for an NCAA Tournament berth, its fifth consecutive under head coach Eddie Radwanski. It opened this season with two home wins against Utah and Coastal Carolina . 

The Tigers return 18 players from last year and are looking to build off their success from last year. Nebraska also returns most of its team from last year, including 18 of 23 letterwinners. 

Clemson has to fill the void left by one of the best players in the country last year, defender Sam Staab, who was drafted fourth overall in the National Women's Soccer League this year. She recorded 11 assists last season, 33 assists in her career, earned All-American honors her senior year and was 2018 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.  

Clemson lost its best defender from last year in Staab, but returns its leading scorer from last year in junior Mariana Speckmaier. She was a standout for Clemson, already recording 17 goals and five assists in her first two years. The Huskers will need to keep Speckmaier in check and force someone else to beat them. 

The Huskers’ best chance to stop Speckmaier is through senior defender Sinclaire Miramontez. Miramontez has been one of the best players on the team and started 17 games last season before an ACL injury cost her the rest of the season. 

One of the key matchups in the game will be between the goalkeepers. The Huskers have senior goalkeeper Aubrei Corder who had a great season last year, recording 56 saves and five shutouts.

Clemson’s senior goalkeeper Sandy MacIver earned her first ACC honor when she was named to the All-ACC Third Team last year after a strong season with 52 saves and eight shutouts. Both teams are going up against great goalkeepers and will face a difficult challenge Friday. 

Nebraska will look to senior midfielder Brenna Ochoa to lead the offensive attack against Maciver. Ochoa played in all 21 games last year, recording eight assists, which tied the Big Ten lead. She will be relied on more this season to attack the opponent's defense, as the Huskers’ leading scorer from 2018 Faith Carter graduated last year.  

Nebraska and Clemson are senior-heavy teams, but feature exciting groups of freshmen who should make a significant impact. The Tigers have seven incoming freshmen, while the Huskers have six. 

One of the six freshmen who could make an impact for the Huskers is Marissa Popoola, the 2019 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. The Huskers will need her and other freshmen to step up and contribute throughout the season. 

The Huskers will try to prove they have the ability to compete with and beat quality teams early in their schedule. Nebraska beating against Clemson would give them the confidence that they can do just that.      

sports@dailynebraskan.com