# 1 Seeds Knocked Out:
Favorites to make the College Cup, Stanford and Florida have been knocked out by Santa Clara and Auburn this past weekend. The Cardinal put up a fight, taking the Bronco’s to overtime. It was short lived because in the 107th minute Jenna Holtz brought the ball down in the box, shook off her defender and aided with a slight deflection, scored the game winner for Santa Clara. It was absolute elation for the Bronco’s and incredible heartbreak for the Cardinal players. Santa Clara will take on #2 Georgetown Saturday at noon.
As for the other #1, I favored Florida but also having kept an eye on Auburn all year, I knew it would be tough. What I didn’t expect were the Tigers to win 3-1 and control most of the game. Auburn struck first, thanks to an outstanding volley by Brooke Ramsier in the 26th minute. In the last seven matches, Ramsier has been seemingly unstoppable, scoring five goals and adding five assist. Scoring two in the second half to seal the win, Auburn stuns Florida and advances to its first quarterfinal in program history. The Tigers will matchup against USC on Friday at 4 p.m.
Duke & WVU Return to Elite 8:
The only returning team from 2015 tournament to make it to the quarterfinals this year are the Blue Devils and Mountaineers. That’s right, no Penn State, Florida State, Texas A&M, Stanford, Virginia or Rutgers. What a turnaround for some of these teams, while Duke and WVU manage to stay on track.
Duke beat Illinois State in the second round 3-1 and escaped Northwestern 1-0 in the third round. Senior Toni Payne led the way, scoring two goals against Illinois State with a breakaway beauty first and a technical hit from just outside the 18 yard box for her second. Against Northwestern, it took a bit more patience but a 40th minute rebound by Ella Stevens gave the Blue Devils all they needed to secure a spot in the Elite 8. The goal was Steven’s 10th of the season, not a bad way to enter double-digits.
West Virginia took on Ohio State and was tested all game long, eventually needing double overtime to decide a winner. Junior Michaela Abam grabbed her 11th goal of the season with a lofted ball from distance that probably should’ve been saved. Nonetheless, they moved on and faced #14 UCLA, another game that needed more than 90 minutes.
The Mountaineers and the Bruins have young Canadian talent to show for, with Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence representing WVU and Jessie Fleming for UCLA. In the first half WVU grabbed the first goal but late in the second half Fleming brought her team back from the dead to stun the Mountaineers. Double overtime wasn’t enough so in penalty kicks, early on Fleming made hers for UCLA while Lawrence converted as well. The fifth and final shot was up to Buchanan, who slotted it home to take her team to Elite 8.
One question many had after was why UCLA coach Amanda Cromwell replaced starting freshman keeper Teagan Micah with junior Siri Ervik. Micah, who in my opinion has been the second best player for UCLA this season only behind Fleming and made several key saves throughout this game. So why take her out and out and put in a cold keeper? Its possible Cromwell had more confidence in Ervik to handle the pk’s, but still, after this loss, it’s reasonable to wonder why.
The Blue Devils and Mountaineers will face each other on Saturday for a chance at the College Cup at 3 p.m
Georgetown & South Carolina Cruise:
The Hoyas and Gamecocks were destined for the Elite 8. Boasting impressive records and each having dynamic duo’s leading the way, it’s possible they could make it to the College Cup.
Georgetown had the more challenging path, facing Rutgers and Virginia, but they beat each by a score of 2-0. The Hoyas are led by junior Rachel Corboz and senior Grace Damaska, who have been so steady all year. Corboz has poured on 11 goals and 16 assist (leading the nation) while Damaska contributed fourteen goals and five assist. The Hoyas recorded their 16th shutout on the season after a UVA own goal and Corboz free kick secured the win.
South Carolina is reliant on junior Savannah McCaskill and senior Chelsea Drennan. McCaskill leads the team in goals with 17 and adding 11 assist while Drennan has accumulated eight goals and 11 assists. The captain Drennan scored the only goal, a penalty in the 69th minute to give the Gamecocks the win over BYU. That goal also set a new single-season record for South Carolina by recording the 51st goal of 2016.
North Carolina Back Where They Belong:
The Tar Heels are back in the Elite 8 since the 2013 season. UNC beat Kansas 2-0 and edged Clemson 1-0 on Sunday. Considering the storied past of the this program and high expectations, which includes 21 Titles in 32 appearances, the Heels have been less than impressive en route to the College Cup this season. Although I wasn’t expecting them to get this far, they have clearly earned it.
Led by Sophomore Dorian Bailey, who scored in wins at Liberty and notched the game winner from distance against Clemson on Sunday. In just her fourth goal on the year, Bailey couldn’t pick a more perfect time to catch form. The #2 seed will face top seeded South Carolina on Friday at 6 p.m.
U-20 Finish Group C on Top:
The United States Women’s Youth team finished its final group game against Ghana in the U-20 Women’s World Cup. In a less than impressive 1-1 draw on Sunday night, the Americans needed some magic from the Captain Mallory Pugh to salvage a point. Two other players who also stood out with moments of quality were Ashley Sanchez, Emily Fox and Katie Cousins. For the next round the U.S. will need to clean up its passing in the final third and finish its chances. Other players will need to step up, including keeper Casey Murphy, who had a blunder in the first half to give Ghana the short-lived lead.
What many may not know is that to commit to the Youth WC, they must red shirt the 2016 college season. The U.S. is has a total of nine colleges represented but none more present than Penn State, who have five players on this Youth roster. Cousin’s is a Tennessee Volunteer and will be a sophomore in 2017. Sanchez has plans to attend UCLA while Fox will attend North Carolina, both in the fall of 2017.
Moving on the quarterfinals is a familiar feeling for this program, as it has advanced to this stage in each of the previous seven tournaments. The Americans have been crowned U-20 champions three times (2012, 2008, and 2002) but the Germans are the 2014 defending champions. Drawing with Ghana ensured not only moving on, but it made sure they wouldn’t face Germany. Its opponent will be Mexico and its set for Friday (Nov. 25th) on FS1 at 1 a.m. ET.
Injuries Galore For Americans:
Four were injured in last weekend’s W-League action and one injured in College play. Two were extremely devastating as keeper Kelsey Wys (Newcastle Jets, Washington Spirit) and midfielder Andi Sullivan (Stanford) each tore an ACL. Wys was playing in the W-League for the Jets and landed very awkwardly during a play while Sullivan had to leave the game against Santa Clara in OT during Stanford’s Tournament run. ACL’s recovery can range anywhere from six months to a year. Hopeful both have a healthy recovery.
Another W-League injury was to Perth Glory and Chicago Red Star midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo. She has a hamstring injury that has carried over from the NWSL season. A fellow Red Star who is also down under is Jen Hoy, who plays for the Jets and has an upper body injury but is listed as questionable. One last report is regarding Orlando Pride/Canberra United forward Jasmyne Spencer. She went down in United’s win over Brisbane Roar, but remains questionable for the next game.