2018 U20 Women’s World Cup – Run The Numbers – United States 0 – 1 Japan

A Honoka Hayashi wondergoal gave Japan a deserved win in their U20 WWC opener against a game but overmatched United States side.

USA (left) vs Japan (right) stats

USA (left) vs Japan (right) stats

Japan (white) vs USA (blue) shots

Japan (white) vs USA (blue) shots

Japan (white) vs USA (blue) key passes

Japan (white) vs USA (blue) key passes

Woman of the Match – Moeka Minami (JPN)

79% pass completion
8 challenges won (out of 9)
2 aerial challenges won (out of 3)
4 tackles won (out of 4)
18 ball recoveries
1 foul won

Japan were outstanding across the board in winning the U20 World Cup, and center-back Moeka Minami was one of the team’s best throughout. Minami didn’t have the greatest day in terms of distribution given the huge expectations technically for Japan’s players, but she was an absolute rock defensively. Minami won just about every challenge against a dangerous American attack, including going a perfect 4-for-4 on tackles. She also racked up a ridiculous eighteen ball recoveries, when nobody else on Japan netted twelve.

Minami challenges won

Minami challenges won

Minami ball recoveries

Minami ball recoveries

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Spirit end disappointing season with 1-1 draw vs. Sky Blue

Arielle Ship scored for the Spirit in her first 2018 minutes at the Soccerplex.

Arielle Ship scored for the Spirit in her first 2018 minutes at the Soccerplex.

In their final match of the 2018 season, in a match delayed from Saturday evening to Sunday morning due to unrelenting lightning, the 8th-place Washington Spirit played to a 1-1 draw with 9th-place Sky Blue FC with Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe setting an NWSL record with 108 saves in a season.
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NCAA – 2018 Mountain West Season Preview(-ish)

Projected Mountain West Table

1. San Jose State
2. Utah State
3. Boise State
4. San Diego State
5. Colorado College
6. UNLV

7. Air Force
8. New Mexico
9. Colorado State
10. Nevada
11. Wyoming
12. Fresno State

Once one of the Mountain West’s great underachievers, San Jose State has turned into one of the conference’s top clubs. Lauren Hanson’s side has now put together three straight winning seasons and finished last season with their most wins (12) since 2010. The Spartans struggled out of the gate last season against some tough opposition, but SJSU eventually put up five straight wins, including their first three in the league. After a brief hiccup, SJSU finished with six straight victories in the league, enough to see them win the Mountain West title by five points. That made the shootout loss to New Mexico in the conference tournament semi-final all the more shocking. While SJSU had had a good season, their resume wasn’t going to merit an at-large bid, as their season ended rather disappointingly.

With seven starters and some fine talent back, the Spartans appear well poised to be in the hunt for more trophies though. There are some rather big departures that SJSU has to compensate for. German Dorthe Hoppius played both as a center-forward and attacking midfielder, mainly at the latter last year and scored a handful of goals with a handful of assists, though that goal total dipped a bit from her two previous seasons. Also gone on offense is Yaritza Arista, the central midfielder having led the club in assists with six last season. The defense also faces some big losses, with Canadian center-back Myia Wilkes the biggest of them, while wide-defender Sabrina Miller also graduates.

The club’s top returning star is likely to be senior Darriell Franklin, a utility player who can slot in just about everywhere on the pitch. Franklin slotted in at center-back a lot last season but also saw time as a center-forward and even as a central midfielder and will be the focus of attention wherever she lines up at. The scoring threat is likely going to have to come from Jamilecxth Becerra, who was a hit here as a sophomore last year, leading the team with seven goals despite starting just eight games leading the line last year.

Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see if Kristen Amarikwa can turn things around after a sophomore slump following a huge rookie season here. Amarikwa played center-back brilliantly as a rookie but was in midfield for much of last season to much less effect. Senior Jennifer Orozco is another who could have a flexible role this season after playing both as a winger and wing-back/full-back last season for the Spartans. Finally, SJSU should be in good hands in between the posts, with proven veteran Paige Simoneau back in goal for the Spartans.

San Jose State looks to be tops of an unpredictable Mountain West this season with a combo of experience, talent, and solid coaching. They likely won’t run away with it like last season, but the Spartans still look like the league’s best club in 2018. Continue reading

WoProSo in DC, past, present, and future

I still remember the first women’s professional soccer match in the District of Columbia. It was of course the inaugural match of the Women’s United Soccer Association, on April 14, 2001, as Mia Hamm’s Washington Freedom took on Brandi Chastain’s Bay Area CyberRays. My wife and I got to our front-and-center seats just in time for the breathtaking sight of a bald eagle flying over. The game was less breathtaking, a 1-0 win for the Freedom on a late penalty kick by the Brazilian Pretinha after Brandi was called for a foul in the box on Mia. But it was still quite an experience to be part of 34,148 experiencing history.

Embed from Getty Images

For the next three years, it was the normal thing to go into the District to see women’s professional soccer. I’d get on at my local Metro station (back when Metro could be trusted to get you there on time) and take the 15-minute ride to Stadium-Armory, then the short walk to RFK Stadium where eight thousand or so of us – unfortunately the 34k number has yet to be duplicated anywhere – would gather in its seemingly cavernous confines to cheer on the exploits of Mia, later Abby Wambach, and the rest of the Washington Freedom.
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2020 NWSL Draft Big Board (August 2018 Update) – WoSo Independent Podcast #52

Podcast below the table. 2019 Big Board hopefully out sometime before the end of civilization.

Rank Name Position School
1 Jessie Fleming MF (AMC, DMC), F (CF) UCLA
2 Tierna Davidson D (CB), MF (DMC) Stanford
3 Deyna Castellanos F (CF), MF (AMC) Florida State
4 Kaleigh Riehl D (CB) Penn State
5 Ally Watt F (CF) Texas A&M
6 Tziarra King F (LW) NC State
7 Grace Fisk D (CB) South Carolina
8 Evelyne Viens F (CF) South Florida
9 Kaiya McCullough D (CB) UCLA
10 Julia Bingham D (LB) USC
11 Ella Stevens MF (AMC) Duke
12 Natalie Jacobs F (RW, LW, CF), D (CB) USC
13 Parker Roberts MF (DMC), D (CB) Florida
14 Katie Cousins MF (DMC) Tennessee
15 Taylor Kornieck MF (AMC), F (CF) Colorado
16 Jaye Boissiere MF (DMC, CM) Stanford
17 Abigail Kim F (CF, RW) Cal
18 Ricci Walkling MF (DMC, CM) NC State
19 Sinclaire Miramontez D (CB) Nebraska
20 Bridgette Andrzejewski MF (AMC), FW (CF, RW) North Carolina
21 Phoebe McClernon D (CB) Virginia
22 Jennifer Westendorf F (CF) Notre Dame
23 Cyera Hintzen F (CF, LW) Texas
24 Chantelle Swaby D (CB) Rutgers
25 Kristina Schuster D (RB) NC State
26 Tavia Leachman D (CB) Utah
27 Anika Rodriguez F (RW, LW), MF (AMC) UCLA
28 Kaitlin Fregulia D (CB) Long Beach State
29 Nikki Albrecht D (LB) Minnesota
30 Dani Rhodes F (CF) Wisconsin
31 Zoe Morse MF (DMC), D (CB) Virginia
32 Amanda Carolan F (CF) Georgetown
33 Stefani Doyle F (CF) Arkansas
34 Nicole Whitley MF (AMC) Rutgers
35 Mandy McGlynn GK Virginia Tech
36 Atu Mshana D (CB) Texas
37 Maya Neal D (CB) Tennessee
38 Rylee Foster GK West Virginia
39 Jordie Harr F (LW), MF (AMC) Texas Tech
40 Andrea Hauksdottir MF (AMC, DMC) South Florida
41 Doro Greulich MF (AMC) Arkansas-Little Rock
42 Julia Lester D (LB, RB, CB) Florida
43 Abby Givens F (RW) Princeton
44 Jalen Tompkins GK Colorado
45 Alli Klug D (CB, RB) Saint Louis
46 Morgan McGarry D (RB) Arizona
47 Jessica Udovich D (CB) Washington
48 Tatumn Milazzo D (RB, CB) South Carolina
49 Mikayla Krzeczowski GK South Carolina
50 Jessica Lisi MF (AMC) Memphis

 

Women’s International Champions Cup – Run The Numbers – North Carolina 1 – 0 Lyon

Runaway NWSL leaders North Carolina scored an early goal and then held off a barrage of offense by visiting French juggernaut Lyon to claim a priceless 1-0 win in the final of the inaugural Women’s International Champions Cup.

North Carolina (left) vs Lyon (right) team stats

North Carolina (left) vs Lyon (right) team stats

North Carolina (blue) vs Lyon (white) shots

North Carolina (blue) vs Lyon (white) shots

North Carolina (blue) vs Lyon (white) key passes

North Carolina (blue) vs Lyon (white) key passes

Woman of the Match – Sabrina D’Angelo (NC)

0 goals conceded
5 saves
3 “big” saves
1 aerial challenge won (out of 1)
0 key mistakes

D’Angelo starting this match raised some eyebrows. Not because of the Canadian’s performance this season, as she was one of the NWSL’s best keepers when she began the year as North Carolina’s starter. But Katelyn Rowland eventually returned to the starting job and was in between the pipes for the semi-final win in this tournament. D’Angelo repaid the faith shown in her with a big showing, making five saves in the clean sheet win, including some big ones while also avoiding key mistakes. Ironically, D’Angelo’s distribution, normally a strength, wasn’t on par on this night, as she completed just 63% of her passes.

D'Angelo shots saved

D’Angelo shots saved

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A Jim Gabarra Retrospective

From the 2010 Washington Freedom media day: Gabarra with players Caitlin Miskel, Abby Wambach, Cat Whitehill, and Becky Sauerbrunn.

From the 2010 Washington Freedom media day: Gabarra with players Caitlin Miskel, Abby Wambach, Cat Whitehill, and Becky Sauerbrunn.

Today’s firing of head coach Jim Gabarra by the Washington Spirit is a sad end (if it is an end) to a long and storied soccer career.

Even before becoming head coach of the Women’s United Soccer Association’s Washington Freedom in 2000, he had a long and varied list of accomplishments. He played soccer for Connecticut College and was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. He played outdoor soccer for several second-tier teams as well as getting 14 caps with the men’s national team, including participating in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

But he made his real mark in indoor soccer and Futsal, captaining the US Futsal team 1986 to 1996, leading the team to third place in 1989 and second in 1992. He had several outings as a player-coach, most notably with the Washington Warthogs of the Continental Indoor Soccer League where – in a harbinger of things to come – he signed the league’s only female players, first Collette Cunningham and then Kristine Lilly.

He was perhaps a somewhat surprising choice to enter the WUSA coaching ranks, which mostly consisted of former college coaches like Mark Krikorian and Ian Sawyers. Bringing along former Warthogs teammate Clyde Watson as an assistant, he had a disappointing experience initially, as the Freedom – despite having Mia Hamm on the roster – finished tied for last in the league. But he revamped the roster in the offseason, drafted a promising young forward named Abby Wambach, and made a key roster acquisition in signing German national teamer Steffi Jones, who didn’t count as an international player due to her American father. Once Jones joined the team and Hamm returned from offseason knee surgery, the Freedom were almost unstoppable, though they fell just short in the WUSA championship, 3-2-, to the Carolina Courage.
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Tournament of Nations – Run The Numbers – USA 4 – 1 Brazil

The United States won the Tournament of Nations with a bravura second half performance that saw them overpower a disappointing Brazil side to claim the trophy on goal differential over Australia.

USA (left) vs Brazil (right) stats

USA (left) vs Brazil (right) stats

USA (white) vs Brazil (yellow) shots

USA (white) vs Brazil (yellow) shots

USA (white) vs Brazil (yellow) key passes

USA (white) vs Brazil (yellow) key passes

Woman of The Match – Tobin Heath (USA)

1 goal
1 assist
2 shots (1 on-target)
85% pass completion (29 passes)
3 key passes
2 crosses complete (out of 4)
6 challenges won (out of 11)
1 aerial challenge won (out of 1)
2 dribbles successful
1 tackle won (out of 1)
3 ball recoveries
1 foul won

Heath was an absolute offensive machine in this one, combining with her USA teammates to slice apart a brittle Brazilian defense. In addition to the goal and the assist, Heath completed a high percentage of her passes, including three key ones. While Heath wasn’t asked to win a ton of challenges, she still did her fair share to keep the Americans on the front foot. In this form, Heath can be devastating against any international opposition, and this was a scintillating display.

Heath passes complete

Heath passes complete

Heath key passes

Heath key passes

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NCAA – 2018 Sun Belt Season Preview

Projected Sun Belt Standings

1. Little Rock
2. Arkansas State
3. South Alabama
4. Texas State
5. Coastal Carolina
6. Louisiana-Monroe
7. Louisiana-Lafayette
8. Troy

9. Georgia State
10. Georgia Southern
11. Appalachian State

Little Rock was probably hoping for big things coming into 2017 after winning twelve games and finishing #92 in the RPI a year prior. After a middling non-conference season though, the Trojans stumbled out of the gate in the league, picking up just one point in their first two Sun Belt games. They’d heat up a little more as the league season drew to a close, but they wouldn’t do enough to rise above fifth in the final league table. UALR would overcome Arkansas State on penalties in the quarterfinal of the conference tournament but were then mauled by South Alabama in the semis.

In an ironic twist, an assistant from that South Alabama team, Mark Foster, is the new head coach here after Adrian Blewitt left for the Army West Point job. He inherits a pretty good situation, as Little Rock have a team, on paper, that should challenge for a league title. Not that there aren’t going to be challenges. The Trojans lose three starters, including some big hitters. The biggest departure is Quin Wilkes, a forward who scored four goals and added three assists last season in her senior campaign. They also face the unexpected loss of the club’s top two goalkeepers Megan Swanson and Kate Hamilton. It means UALR is likely going to have to rely on a rookie in goal, with Iceland’s Sara Johannsdottir and Sweden’s Hilma Svalander having joined in the offseason.

Among the returnees, Spanish forward Arola Aparicio Gili will be one to watch for Little Rock. Capable as a winger or centrally, Gili only scored three times last season but is still very influential to the Trojans’ game. The scoring may come from German junior Doro Greulich, an absolute machine in midfield who was the team’s leading scorer by some distance last season with eight goals. UALR also adds more international class with Icelandic youth international midfielder Fanney Einarsdottir the crown jewel of this recruiting class, while German Maeve Burger also joins as a transfer from Butler.

There’s German star power on the backline as well, as the colossal Liesa Seifert is one of the tallest field players in college soccer at 6’1” and is one of the best center-backs in the Sun Belt, especially in the air. Also on the backline could be Jaclyn Purvine, an extremely versatile player that can play either full-back spot or either spot on the wing in the attack.

Teams with new managers are rarely predictable, but Foster looks to be in as desirable a situation as any new boss in 2018. They look like league favorites in my projections and should, at the very least, be in the mix for honors in the Sun Belt. Continue reading

NCAA – 2018 Patriot League Season Preview

Projected Patriot League Standings

1. Boston University
2. Colgate
3. Navy
4. Lehigh
5. Holy Cross
6. Army West Point

7. Bucknell
8. Lafayette
9. Loyola (MD)
10. American

Boston University again pushed themselves with a brutally difficult non-conference schedule last year and were only marginally better with than they were in 2016, where they lost their first nine. BU did manage to beat Northeastern and draw the two Arizona schools in the Pac-12, but this was still a program that needed to get into league play to truly hit its stride. The Terriers were more than solid in the Patriot League, but they did drop enough points to slip to third in the final table, forcing them into the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, where they topped Lafayette. But BU’s bogey team, Bucknell were waiting in the semi-final and beat them once again, the fourth straight loss the Terriers have suffered to Bucknell since beating them in the final of the 2015 Patriot League Tournament.

But after a few years that might be considered “rebuilding” seasons here, the Terriers look ready to roll towards silverware this season. While BU does lose four starters, their returning talent dwarfs that of most of the rest of the league. The biggest departure comes on defense, where center-back Rachel Bloznalis graduates after a fine career that culminated with a superb senior season. The offense isn’t unscathed though, as Christina Wakefield, who tied for most goals here last season with five, also graduates. Also gone are central midfielder Jesse Shreck (who led the team in assists with five) and Bloznalis’ center-back partner, Alivya Wimmer.

With little in the way of proven scoring back, this might be a BU side that rides with its defense. The club’s best returning player is likely defensive midfielder Julianna Chen, who has been a stalwart here for three seasons. Her partner in central midfield, Dorrie Varley-Barrett is also a standout, meaning BU’s central midfield could be one of their strongest areas this season.

The backline itself does have to replace both starting center-backs, as noted above, and BU will likely be banking on right-back Libby Closson to be the leader of the defense this season after a strong finish to last season. Unsurprisingly, BU’s gone big on defensive recruits in this class, with Kate Collins and Elle Conlin shortlisted as two to watch. In goal, Amanda Fay won the starting job in the middle of last season, but the sophomore could find her position under threat thanks to the addition of another top recruit, Morgan Messner.

The Terriers will likely be desperate for some improved offense, with nobody here netting more than five goals last year. Winger McKenna Doyle led the club in shots last season (41) but also netted just three goals, though she did net six as a rookie in 2015. The best hope may be for continued excellence from sophomore left-winger Anna Heilferty, who scored five goals as a rookie and even played a little left-back for the U.S. U19 team in some offseason friendlies.

Even with some losses, BU still looks to have their best team in a few years and should be favored to reach Patriot League glory this season. Continue reading