Melbourne Derby One Sided:
The Australian W-League saw a thrilling Derby between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory on Saturday. Plenty of NWSL talent on display: Jess Fishlock (Seattle), Steph Catley (Orlando), Lydia Williams (Houston), Natasha Dowie (Boston), Christine Nairn (Seattle), Sam Johnson (Chicago), Erika Tymrak (Kansas City), Laura Alleway (Orlando), and Biannca Henninger (Houston).
It was a battle of Houston Dash keepers. In the first half, City had real chances, but Henninger did a solid job between the posts for Victory. Williams kept City in it as well, with a few early saves. The second half was a completely different story, as a certain Welsh midfielder was all over the place, scoring the opener in the 64th minute and finishing the scoring in the 76th minute. In between her goals was Captain Catley, scoring on replacement keeper Bethany Mason-Jones minutes after Henninger left the field with an injury.
City extends their winning streak to three games and sit atop the table with 9 points. Victory remains in ninth through four games, losing their third game. They are still searching for a win.
Battle of the Carolinas for College Cup Spot:
North Carolina topped South Carolina over the weekend in the NCAA Quarterfinals match-up. I had the Gamecocks favored (hello, Savannah McCaskill) but the outstanding goalkeeping of UNC’s Lindsey Harris shut them down in every way. The Tar Heels grabbed the only goal in the 22nd minute, thanks to a beautiful chip from Madison Schultz—her fifth goal on the year.
South Carolina had a series of chances within the first ten minutes with nothing to show for it. Kaleigh Kurtz also had a shot hit the crossbar just before halftime. The best chance of the night for the Gamecocks came from the penalty spot. Sophie Groff took it, but Harris made an acrobatic save to keep her team in front. Harris made several impressive saves, showing her strength in the air and her ability to hold on to the ball on an aggressive goal-line challenge from McCaskill. Harris’s eight saves on the night brought her season to total to 91, a new single-season school record after passing Molly Current, who played in 1980.
North Carolina advances to its 27th semifinals, the most of any D1 program. They will play in San Jose against West Virginia.
Georgetown Edges Santa Clara:
The Hoyas certainly have performed well. This past weekend they showed why they deserve to be in the College Cup. Usually Rachel Corboz and Grace Damaska are the names covering the score sheet, but Crystal Thomas’s phenomenal strike was all the Hoyas needed to advance. The graduate forward took a chance with 16 minutes left in the contest. Out of nowhere, she let a shot rip from the left side of the penalty area. The distance (22 yards) and tough angle surprised Bronco keeper, Melissa Lowder, who had absolutely no chance to save it. It was a powerful shot—one that is surely the most important of Thomas’s career.
With that wonder strike, Thomas and the Hoyas are headed to the College Cup for the first time in program history. They also recorded their 17 shutout of the season. They move on to continue this incredible season to face USC Friday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
West Virginia Handles Duke:
I wanted the Blue Devils to take this one, but it was a long shot considering how many injures this team had throughout the season. The #1 seeded West Virginia was healthier and overall had a more talented squad. The Mountaineers proved to be too much and found the winning goal from junior Alli Magaletta (transferred from Missouri) in the 16th minute. The midfielder got on the end of a corner to put away the only goal of the game.
Duke had plenty of chances but the freshman in goal for WVU had other plans, Rylee Foster made five saves to keep her team ahead. The second half was all senior Blue Devil Toni Payne, who created most of the opportunities and had a shot stopped right on the goal line. The back line leader Kadeisha Buchanan made sure her group was organized and ready for any attack made by Duke.
West Virginia now set school records reaching 22 wins and 17 shutouts on the season. They continue their historical run Friday as they face UNC on ESPNU at 4 p.m. CT.
USC Slips Past Auburn:
With the year the Auburn Tigers were having, I had them advancing into the College Cup. Wow, was I proved wrong. In another one-goal contest, the Trojans crushed the dreams of Tiger players and fans. The lone goal came just four minutes in, from a header by Alex Anthony (assisted by Julia Bingham). Although I knew USC had a strong defense, I didn’t expect them to get off to that quick of a start on the offensive end.
Auburn boasted an impressive lineup, spearheaded by Brooke and Casie Ramsier and Kristen Dodson. The dangerous trio had a combined 33 goals and 31 assists. Someone would have to slow them down eventually, right? That someone would be Trojan keeper, Sammy Jo Prudhomme, who made six saves to preserve her team’s 15th shutout of the year. Prudhomme has been outstanding all season long, coming up big while recording 18 wins and being the leader of the defense.
USC will play Georgetown in San Jose at Avaya Stadium.
U-20 Fall In Semifinals of WWC:
The United States Under-20 Women’s team may have made it to the semifinals, but in no way have they been one of the better teams in this U-20 Women’s World Cup. They needed a miracle to get past Mexico last week, but against a very technical North Korea squad, one miracle wasn’t enough, and the U.S. was rightfully defeated. The Americans have a talented squad but are just not polished enough on both ends of the ball. The defense was unorganized, giving up 25 shots, while the offense could not finish the several opportunities in front of goal, only producing seven shots.
North Korea unsurprisingly struck first (they have the most goals in this tournament) with a chance from the penalty spot. A handball was called on USWNT defender Katie Cousins as she was challenging for the ball in the 51st minute. Jon So Yon stepped up and easily converted while the U.S. fans were still in disbelief that the call was made. After watching it several times, I would have to say it was a questionable call.
The United States continued to be under pressure, scrambling on defense and, at times, falling over each other due to limited communication. The second half was difficult to watch, as the U.S. attack stalled. The defense was barely hanging on. North Korea showed confidence on the ball and looked fit throughout. The Americans, on the other hand, were noticeably slowing down as the game wore on.
In the 89th minute, an awkward and desperate volley from Natalie Jacobs gave the Americans life, albeit, a life I’m not so sure they deserved, considering their sub-par performance. That goal sent it into overtime. Less than a minute in, North Korea scored again. This time resulting from the run of play, as Sung Hyang Sim slipped a pass to a charging Ri Hyang Sim, who slotted it far post, past keeper Casey Murphy for the game winner.
North Korea advances to their third U-20 final while the United States crash out. The coaching concerns voiced by many are now louder than ever (and especially relevant with the recent change in MNT head coach). The system needs a serious overhaul if they want to be one of best teams at this level again. On Saturday, North Korea will face France in the final. The U.S. will take on Japan in the third-place match.