Stanford Keeps PAC-12 Title:
Stanford was my favorite to win this one, but the #21 ranked California Bears put a decent effort in. Within the first 15 minutes, each team had already scored, making for an exciting and unpredictable match-up. In the middle of it all was Andi Sullivan, a player you should be familiar with by now. She leads this team in goals with 11 and is second in assists with 7. Sullivan has proven that she is one of the best players in the nation, even as a junior. She grabbed her goal in the 56th minute by way of a brilliant one-on-one effort to beat Bear keeper Emily Boyd.
The Sullivan goal seemed to spark the rest of the offense, as sophomore Kyra Carusa and freshman Beattie Goad also contributed goals in the second half to cruise to a 4-1 victory. This was the second consecutive PAC-12 title and 11th in program history for the Cardinals.
FSU outlasts UNC in ACC Showdown:
Going into this game, I had many expectations, one being that Florida State would win. But I also knew North Carolina would put up a fight. First half was possession-heavy for the Tar Heels, while the Seminoles had troubles connecting the final pass.
One thing I didn’t expect was for redshirt senior, Kirsten Crowley, to struggle as much as she did in the first half. She gave away bad turnovers, there was a lack of communication between Crowley and the defense, and her passing was horrific. Not sure if it was nerves, fatigue, or just having a rough start, but she did settle in a little more in the second half. A few mistakes by Crowley led to several set piece opportunities for UNC, but they ended up with nothing to show for it.
One player who is arguably FSU’s best offensive threat is Deyna Castellanos, the explosive freshman from Venezuela. She had her best scoring chance early in the second half, but was stopped by Lindsey Harris, who stood tall for FSU all game. UNC’s best player for me was Maya Worth, who pressured the backline of FSU all game and nearly had a few goals herself. Worth was impressive and very solid in her effort.
In penalty kicks, the Seminoles converted four while UNC only made three, missing the last one to keep the ACC title in Tallahassee. This is FSU’s fourth consecutive conference title—fifth in sixth seasons.
Georgetown Handles Marquette for Big East crown:
Two of the best players in the nation happen to be on the same team. Yes, I’m talking about junior Rachel Corboz and senior Grace Damaska. The dynamic pair each scored to lead Georgetown to a 2-0 win and secure its first ever Big East conference title in program history.
Damaska opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, going unassisted on a loose ball in the box and putting home her team-leading 13th goal of the year. The Hoyas unsurprisingly controlled possession, and they found their second goal early in the second half thanks to Corboz pouncing on a rebound and blasting it home for her 10th goal on the season.
This win was Georgetown’s 13th shutout of the year, which ties the school record. Another impressive stat was that Marquette only managed one shot on goal, a real testament to the strong defense the Hoyas have put together. This is Georgetown’s seventh bid to the NCAA Tournament in program history.
TCU Collapse Gives West Virginia Big 12 Championship:
The Horned Frogs got off to a fast start, pressuring and grabbing loose balls, until Michelle Prokof capitalized on a turnover and scored in the 5th minute. That goal was her sixth of the year, putting her at second all-time on the TCU scoring list, with 27 goals to her name. The Horned Frogs struck again just before half. Super sub Allison Ganter earned her ninth goal of the year. What’s notable about that is that Ganter has scored all of her goals when coming off the bench.
The second half, West Virginia looked more like themselves, pressuring and creating serious scoring threats. Still, the defense of TCU was hanging on. With less than two minutes to go, TCU lost focus, and West Virginia senior defender-turned-forward Kadeisha Buchanan buried a loose ball in the six yard box (from a beautiful dummy by her teammate) to tie the game and give her team life. TCU had the title in their hands, and then it was gone.
Heading into overtime, the Mountaineers definitely had the momentum—rightfully so. Just seven minutes into OT, senior Ashley Lawrence got ahold of a low cross on the back post for the game winner. It was a remarkable comeback—one that will surely haunt TCU for a while. This was WVU’s third Big 12 championship in four years.
Florida & Arkansas Entertain For SEC Bragging Rights:
This match-up was my favorite of the day, mostly because I enjoy seeing Arkansas continue to prove people wrong. Another reason is that Florida has one of the best forwards in college in senior Savannah Jordan, and she’s got some serious wheels. Jordan and Razorback defender, Qyara Winston, tangled in a few tackles early on, and that seemed to set the tone for the rest of the night. This game brought serious energy, tough challenges, and chippy plays—all the makings for a highly entertaining game.
Jordan grabbed the opening goal for Florida in the 19th minute by backing down her defender in the six yard box and turning on a dime to score her 15th goal of the year. It also moves her into second place all-time in scoring for the Gators with 80 goals, only 16 behind USWNT and Florida legend Abby Wambach.
Arkansas continued to hang and pressure the Gators’ backline, and finally capitalized on a mistake. Florida gave a weak and dangerous back pass to keeper Kaylan Marckese, who then had a deflected clearance that fell to Razorback, Sparky Fischer. Marckese took her time getting into position, and Fischer took advantage of that to send a laser into the upper left corner for the equalizer. It was a beautiful goal to keep hope alive for Arkansas.
This game, like so many others, went into overtime. But both teams were energized and had chances to end it. Both defenses stepped up big time to neutralized those chances. That is, until the final minute, when Gator, Brooke Sharp, headed home a lofty back-post cross by Dougherty Howard. It was a great team goal. This was quite a match, as Arkansas was very tough and gave it all without a doubt. Florida earned their 12th SEC title and first since the 2012 season.
NCAA DI Tournament Selection:
On Monday, the fate of 64 teams looking to get into the NCAA DI tournament was official. The 31 conference winners received automatic bids, along with Stanford (PAC-12), Harvard (IVY), and Pepperdine (West Coast), who each won the regular season in their respective conferences.
Plenty of the usual powerhouses are included: North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State, Notre Dame, Duke, West Virginia, and UCLA. Teams who are back after a long absence are NC State (1996), Bucknell (2005), UNLV (2006), SMU (2006), and Charlotte (2008). Every year, new teams emerge onto the national stage. This year, four are making their debuts: Alabama State, Kent State, Eastern Washington, and Northern Kentucky.
Two teams that I had on the bubble were Texas A&M (11-8-1) and Texas Tech 9-8-2). They both managed to make the tournament, even with less than impressive records and wins. The Aggies’ biggest win was 2-1 against Auburn. Other than that, they didn’t stack up against top-20 opponents all year. They struggled in conference play, finishing with five wins, five losses, and a draw. Certainly a team I wouldn’t have picked, but it’s a new season, and anything could happen. As for Texas Tech, they finished conference at an abysmal two wins and six losses. The biggest win on the year for them was at Oklahoma, a narrow 1-0 victory.
The first round will take place November 11, 12 and 13.