Monthly Archives: August 2011

Notables for August 31, 2011

  • Alyssa Naeher has made the jump to Turbine Potsdam. The Boston Breakers’ goalkeeper could fill the void left by first choice GK Anna Felicitas Sarholz who was just injured in a biking accident, but is not expected to miss the entire season. It’s a significant move as the German powerhouses rarely open their checkbooks for foreign talent, although that’s changed recently. It’s still quite rare to see American names linked with the club. There were reportedly five names in the mix, one of which was another U.S.-based player. The short-term stint will be a fantastic opportunity for Naeher.

 

  • Our Game Magazine reports that Caroline Seger has signed a two-year deal with Tyresö FF beginning in 2012. Seger will appear for Malmö for the rest of the 2011 Damallsvenskan season. Seger’s record in WPS is unimpeachable as she appeared in the 2010 WPS Championship in her debut season before winning it all with the Flash this year. She’ll  be missed on these shores.

 

  • The pair of USWNT friendlies in September will feature the full squad from the Women’s World Cup. No complaints here. There will be time to bed in new faces during the run-up to the 2012 Summer Olympics (paging Ashlyn, Whitney, Sinead, and possibly Christen). It will be a nice showing for the new fans that came on board as a result of the World Cup. These games will serve as cause for deserved celebration – even if they can’t be part of a Gold Medal tour.

 

  • In case you missed it, Hope Solo will be a contestant on the newest season of Dancing With the Stars. This Tweet pretty much sums it up. Solo is unquestionably the face of women’s soccer in the U.S. now, which is, well… /sigh/.

 

More later if anything else comes up.

An Interview With Melissa Henderson

This season Melissa Henderson will look to capture a pair of prestigious honors in her senior season in South Bend. The highly touted Notre Dame forward was one of three finalists for the 2010 MAC Hermann Trophy last year and spearheaded her team to a national championship in impressive fashion.  Henderson spoke with AWK about the strength of this year’s squad, getting nominated for an ESPY, and her future aspirations.

On the Hunt For A Repeat

Notre Dame managed to ride a wave of momentum to the 2010 NCAA title last season. Did you always think you were on a championship caliber team?

Last year was an amazing ride and a great journey that my teammates and I were fortunate enough to experience. But the players that came before my class and the players that come after my class will, in my eyes, always be championship caliber teams. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal and that’s to win a national championship, not just for ourselves but for each other.

 

Your class could now become the first Notre Dame team to win two consecutive national titles. What’s the most important thing the team needs to do as it prepares for a title defense?

Honestly, I think the best thing we can do is to believe in one another and go out and just play. We have the chemistry, we have the passion, and we have the fight; we just need to keep our focus on one game at a time.

 

You’re now entering your senior year with the Fighting Irish. How has your role changed in the team?

I feel like my role is similar to everyone else’s — trying to make an impact to help our team reach its goal of another national championship. I know I’m probably speaking on behalf of our senior class, but we want to make sure that everyone knows that they are crucial to our success, starting with our freshmen all the way to us seniors.

 

What is one area of your game you’d like to focus on developing this season?

I think every area of my game could definitely use some work.

 

You were with the USWNT U-23’s this summer. What were the highlights of your time with the team?

I just loved the whole atmosphere. The team and coaching staff were phenomenal and I felt blessed to even have the opportunity to be there with all of them.

 

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NCAA Soccer – And A Few Thoughts On Stanford-Georgetown

OK, this is a little later than expected since I was working on finishing the SEC preview, but…

-Honestly, I think this tells us more about Georgetown than it does the Card. The Hoyas were facing a Stanford team without Quon, Verloo, and Nogueira and weren’t even close. Georgetown’s a good team, but they’re clearly not a great team and have a definitive ceiling this year that ends well before Kennesaw. The Hoyas’ top three players, Ingrid Wells, Camille Trujillo, and Kelly D’Ambrisi combined for a paltry one shot on frame while the defense was sliced apart by the Card. The Hoyas can’t rest on their laurels after this defeat though. William & Mary’s much improved this year and could give an unfocused Georgetown team problems.

-Though some might disagree, this was a very good (long) weekend for Stanford. Obviously, this was a great win, but the draw with Maryland’s going to still look good come the end of the season. Stanford will probably be rueing their finishing in that match, especially in the first half, but given how some of the other top teams have fared in the first few weeks, it says something that the Card was able to come cross country without three of their top players and get a win and a draw against a couple of top twenty-five teams. As for this one, it just goes to show that if all of Stanford’s frontline gets rolling, look out. On her day, Lindsay Taylor is as good as any forward in America, and this might have been the breakout performance from Sydney Payne that Stanford has been waiting for. The goal the Card conceded sounded a little worrying and is proof that while Emily Oliver’s a great young keeper, she’s still not the finished product. There’s one final tune-up against Northwestern back at home before four massive non-conference matches.

2011 NCAA Soccer Preview – SEC – “You’re Not Famous Any More”

Holly King

Mountain In The Middle - Florida's Holly King Figures To Dominate In Midfield Again

Way, way back when I wrote something in the vein of “the SEC isn’t relevant nationally any more,” I perhaps envisioned that the teams around the league would be buoyed by the jibe, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and rallying to work themselves back up the hierarchies of conferences across the country. Instead, the opposite happened, and the SEC endured arguably its worse season as a conference in many a year.

A league which had been used to getting in the neighborhood of five bids in the NCAA Tournament suddenly found themselves with just three bids to the Big Dance, and Auburn’s ticket was a mighty tight squeeze in the end. If the SEC was hoping that its representatives would win back a little pride for the league, they’d be sorely disappointed by the end of the first weekend. Auburn was bounced at the first hurdle by South Florida, while the league’s two other teams that had made it into the field of sixty-four would go home after the second round. South Carolina did well to beat UNC Greensboro in the first round but would be utterly outclassed by Virginia in round two. That was a more palatable exit than Florida’s penalty defeat to a Duke team that had largely outplayed them.

Some might have blamed a grueling weather delayed SEC Tournament that had forced the Gators and Gamecocks to play three exhausting games in four days. Still though, the league hasn’t had a representative in the College Cup in a long while and hasn’t had a serious threat to breach the Final Four in almost as long. Without a doubt, Florida are the best hope to break the league’s long duck, but questions about the SEC champs’ ability to deliver in the high stakes of the NCAA Tournament will linger until UF comes good.

There are questions galore elsewhere through the league. South Carolina look the pick of the rest, but whether this team can make extended progress through November is very much in doubt. Everyone else will likely be scrambling for an NCAA Tournament bid, which is very much not a guarantee for the other ten teams. The remaining cast of characters in the conference are also largely a mystery. LSU and Georgia will be looking for fightbacks after down seasons, while Tennessee will be looking to recapture some of their glory days. Auburn look again to be bubble battlers, while Kentucky will be hoping to ride a new wave of optimism back to the Big Dance. Everyone else will likely be in a fight to just make it to Orange Beach and the SEC Tournament.
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Notables for August 29th, 2011

It’s impossible to ignore all the stuff that happened this weekend, so here’s a rundown. Also check out Chris’ post below for all the recent goings on in the land of college soccer.

 

  • Jacqueline Purdy spotlights Christine Sinclair in this piece for espnW. Beau Dure looks at what made the WNY Flash champions. The WPS season may now be over, but click here to check out soccer tickets online.

 

  • A Tweet of hope from Sky Blue FC owner Thomas Hofstetter.

 

  • Inka Grings has landed at a club and at it’s…FC Zürich. Sonja Fuss has also transferred to the team.  FC Zürich are currently joint top of the Swiss league alongside Basel after three games played. Other than Grings and Fuss, there are just two other international players at the club. As statistics go, the 32-year-old is still in her prime years. She was tied for second most goals scored in the Frauen-Bundesliga last year with 23. She has averaged 26.6 goals over the past three seasons.

 

  • Kerstin Garefrekes has retired from the German Women’s National Team. The retirements of Birgit Prinz, Ariane Hingst, reserve goalkeeper Ursula Holl, and now Garefrekes marks a true changing of the guard for the national team. Garefrekes will continue play for FFC Frankfurt this season. 

  

  • Whitney Engen is on the move to Swedish club Tyresö. Beverly Goebel is headed to reigning Finnish champions PK-35.
 

  • In more news of WPS players jumping to Europe this offseason, Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson will be playing for Spanish team Espanyol. To recap the list of players now in the Damallsvenskan, Becky Edwards is going to Hammerby, Karen Bardsley is off to Linköpings, Val Henderson will be at Örebro, Caroline Seger is on the books at LdB Malmö, and India Trotter is currently at Dalsjöfors, along with Alex Singer, Emily Zurrer, and Erin McLeod. Angela Salem is in Finland at Aland United.

 

  • More transfer news: Australians Elise Kellond-Knight and Lenna Khamis will make the move to Danish side Fortune Hjorring following Olympic Qualifiers.

 

  • The European transfer window closes on August 31 so additional moves must be made in haste.

 

  • Malmö has a three-point cushion at the top of the Damallsvenskan. The team earned a 2-0 win over Dalsjöfors on Saturday after a rough patch of form saw the leaders drop points in five consecutive games. Umea has a tenuous hold of second place, as the team have won one game out of their last five. Tyresö continues to gun for a Champions League place and are currently one point behind Umea on 30 points. Örebro is right behind Tyresö on 29 points. Hammarby and Dalsjöfors look primed for relegation. Hammarby were the subjects of an 8-1 battering by Tyresö on Sunday. Dalsjöfors has only taken two points from 15 games this season.

 

  • Brief Frauen-Bundesliga wrap-up today. Turbine Potsdam, Frankfurt, and Duisburg remain atop of the league after round two. Each team kept a clean sheet in their respective victories. Potsdam blanked Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 and Genoveva Anonma recorded her third goal in two games. Frankfurt defeated newly promoted Lokomotive Leipzig 4-0 (highlights here). Duisburg shut out Hamburg 2-0 thanks to goals from Simone Laudehr and Luisa Wensing (her second in two games). In the most evenly-matched game of the round, Wolfsburg drew with Bad Neuenahr 1-1. New signing Conny Pohlers salvaged a point for the Wolves with her 78th minute goal. Essen-Schonebeck needed a 90th minute goal to see off USV Jena 1-0. And in the shock result of the weekend, debutantes Freiburg edged out Bayern Munich 3-1. Freiburg look to be the surprise team this year as they earned a head turning draw against Bad Neuenahr last weekend. 17-year-old Melanie Leupolz had a brace on the day and, along with Anonma and Pohlers, leads the league in goals.

 

More after the jump.

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NCAA Soccer – MatchDay Not-So-Live for 08/28/11 – Duke Rising

Kelly Cobb

Alaskan Assassin - Duke's Kelly Cobb is Already Giving Opposing Defenses Nightmares

(Note: Georgetown-Stanford was postponed until Monday at 12:00 PM EST. Thoughts on that game will be posted late Monday afternoon.)

Duke 3 (Weinberg 63′, Cobb 67′, Canepa 75′) – 1 (Gerstle 26′, Schneider SENT OFF 83′) Notre Dame

Statement made. Duke are national title contenders and were deserved winners in an upset but not as big an upset as some would believe. After going down in bizarre fashion in the middle of the first half, Duke could’ve folded coming out of the break but instead exploded for three goals in twelve minutes to record a massive win against the defending national champs. It’s telling that all three of Duke’s young attacking lions were involved with two of the Blue Devils’ goals on the afternoon, with Weinberg and Cobb scoring and Pathman assisting on the former’s equalizer. Lost in the offensive fireworks was the job the defense did on the explosive Irish offense. Melissa Henderson was limited to a single off-target shot, while Notre Dame was limited to just two shots on goal overall, with one being Brynn Gerstle’s fluke goal. The only possible dampener to Duke’s coming out party was another knee injury to the unfortunate Ashley Rape. If Rape misses significant time, Duke’s ceiling probably descends a bit. But if she’s good to go, the Blue Devils can dream big.

Sunday was probably a small step away from a total second half meltdown for the Irish. They were very, very fortunate to be up 1-0 at the half through a bizarre goal that saw Duke keeper Tara Campbell clear it off Gerstle’s face with the ball rolling across the goal line from the ricochet. But Notre Dame struggled to create much else and only had two shots on goal the entire match, with the starters not getting a shot on goal at all. More worryingly, the Irish defense had trouble with Duke’s offense, with the Blue Devil Big Three running riot over the backline at times. As if things couldn’t get worse, the team also lost Taylor Schneider to a red card after two bookable offenses late in the game. At least she’ll only be out for what looks like a tune-up against Tulsa. The Irish should be able to rack up two wins at home before another big trip on the road to face Stanford and Santa Clara.
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Arsenal Ladies Crowned FA WSL Champions (So Take Heart, Gunners Fans)

Rachel Yankey and Faye White Are Champions Once More

It wasn’t a completely abject day for Arsenal Football Club. Arsene Wenger’s men may have been treated to a humiliating 8-2 demolition job at the hands of Manchester United, but Arsenal Ladies capped off the inaugural FA WSL season with a league title.

Arsenal today defeated Liverpool 3-1 to claim their thirteenth domestic honor. Veteran winger Rachel Yankey vanquished Liverpool’s hopes for an upset early on with a first half brace. Kim Little’s penalty kick goal in the 75th minute made Liverpool’s 62nd minute strike inconsequential.

The men’s side hasn’t won a trophy in six years, which presumably leaves plenty of room in the trophy cabinet for the women’s raft of honors. This is the 35th piece of hardware for Arsenal Ladies. The team collected nine league titles in the 2000s, and might well be looking to dominate English women’s football in this decade, too.    

Unlike previous campaigns in the FA Women’s Premier League, however, it was never a one-horse race. Laura Harvey’s team came from behind to eclipse surprise packages Birmingham City in the standings. The World Cup pilfered some of Arsenal’s squad and the club had to make do without the likes of Rachel Yankey, Ellen White, Faye White, and Steph Houghton. Birmingham City took full advantage of the depletion. Rachel Williams was responsible for nearly half of the club’s goals and helped the team stay atop the league standings for the bulk of the season. The Midlands side looked set to complete their dream title run, but it wasn’t to be.

Birmingham City and Arsenal exchanged momentum once the FA WSL resumed after a World Cup-induced break. Birmingham City dropped two precious points against Lincoln Ladies in their first game back. A subsequent 3-2 loss against Everton saw them drop even further from their perch. A 1-1 draw on August 7 between the two sides pulled the Lady Gunners within touching distance of Birmingham City’s lead. A week later, Arsenal pulled ahead.

The reigning domestic champions hardly missed a beat. The club had taken 19 points from a maximum of 24 since the break and conceded just four goals in eight games during that span.

Scottish striker Kim Little found the net in each of her last five appearances for the club. Her brace today topped off her total goal amount at 13 – second-most in the league behind Williams.

Despite Birmingham City’s second half drop-off, the club will compete in the UEFA Women’s Champions League next season. 2009-10 Champions League participants Everton were unable to clinch a return to Europe as they finished four points off second place. Lincoln finished in a highly respectable fourth place, thanks in part to a late surge in form that saw them win their final four games. FA Cup runners-up Bristol Academy placed fifth while Chelsea ended their season in a disappointing sixth. Doncaster Belles and Liverpool each finished the season in single digits. They closed out the season in seventh and eighth place respectively.

The FA WSL is the product of a rebranding and re-launch of the former FA Women’s Premier League. The semi-pro national league was formed in hopes of attracting more spectators in the summer months with closer, more condensed competition. The World Cup led to an anticipated bump in attendance and, just as everywhere else, it will be curious to see if there’s any spillover in the 2012 season. Arsenal, Birmingham City, Everton all challenged for the league title so perhaps the women’s game in England truly is inching closer to parity.

The league may have just come into being, but it closes its premiere season with a familiar champion.

NCAA Soccer – The First XI for August 28, 2011

Kathryn Williamson

Busy Gator - Florida's Kathryn Williamson Will Be Looking To Shut Down Sydney Leroux and UCLA on Sunday

UCLA vs Florida – 1:30 PM EST (in Knoxville, Tennessee)

Arguably Sunday’s marquee matchup, the Bruins get their biggest test of the season by far against a veteran and battle hardened Florida side. UCLA showed they were battle hardened themselves on Friday night after coming back late to stun Tennessee through goals from Zakiya Bywaters and Sydney Leroux. But Florida’s an entirely different animal, a team just as deep as UCLA and perhaps with as much firepower as the Bruins. There are intriguing matchups galore in this one, not limited to Florida’s Kathryn Williamson trying to shut down Leroux and the matchup of the playmakers with UCLA’s Sam Mewis squaring off against the Gators’ Erika Tymrak. If Florida can come away with a convincing win in this one, we might have to add them to the mix of College Cup contenders, though you could say the same thing about their opponents on Sunday.
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NCAA Soccer – MatchDay Not-So-Live for 08/26/11 – The Empire Strikes Back

Victorious UNC

North Carolina Were Jumping for Joy At Rainy Fetzer Field After Courtney Jones' Extra Time Winner

North Carolina 2 (Premji 20′, Jones 96′) – 1 (Hall 71′) Notre Dame [aet]

A resolute North Carolina side got seven big saves from goalkeeper Hannah Daly and a clutch extra time goal from senior Courtney Jones to take a 2-1 win in the latest clash with eternal rivals Notre Dame in front of a big house in rainy Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels got out to a quick start with Ranee Premji scoring her second goal in as many games in 2011 in the twentieth minute to take a 1-0 lead into the half. The Heels were kept on their…err…heels for much of the first half with Daly making six saves to keep her side in front headed into the break. After a second half that was much more even on the stat sheet, the Heels would grab the priceless golden goal through Jones in the first half of extra time to seal the victory. The match marked the return of Meg Morris to the lineup, and the sophomore played sixty-eight minutes in the win. UNC used a deeper bench than usual in big matches with seven subs seeing time, though none recorded a shot. Despite not recording a shot, UNC coach called Crystal Dunn the team’s best player on the night, showing that she can still make a big impact even if she’s not putting together any shots. The final note of interest on the Carolina Blue side was the Heels’ apparent shift to 3-5-2 in the middle of the game after the hosts were being overrun in midfield. It’ll be intriguing to see if that was just a one off or perhaps a permanent second option for UNC in more difficult fixtures down the line.

One of the big talking points for the visitors will be the switch from Maddie Fox to Sarah Voigt in goal for this match. Voigt’s highly touted but also still a freshman and perhaps could have done better in getting beaten at the near post for Jones’ extra time goal. It’s going to be an interesting battle all year between Voigt and Fox in between the pipes, and Waldrum will be desperate to find some consistency no matter the starting keeper. Melissa Henderson was, for the most part, bottled up by the North Carolina defense and by Carolina freshman Satara Murray in particular. It’s a very rare occasion when you see Henderson just get one shot in a match and at the very least proved that she’s human after all. Something to note is just how short the Notre Dame bench was in this one. Irish Head Coach Randy Waldrum made mention of the team not being very healthy at the moment in his post-match interview and it showed, with just three subs being used the entire match. That could be a big factor come Sunday afternoon with a tricky match against a very good Duke team to close out the weekend.
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Five Things Learned from the 2011 WPS Championship Game Plus Audio

Women’s soccer sure knows how to do penalty kicks right.

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had my fill for the year. Between Ashlyn Harris’ rock star block tonight, Ali Krieger’s momentous finish against Brazil, the Claire Rafferty flap against France, and the Boxx/Lloyd/Heath’s misses, we’ve exceeded our annual quota for PK shootout suspense. All nine penalty kicks that preceded Harris’ save on Laura del Rio were class. The strikes by both Christine Sinclair and Danesha Adams were net-bound from first contact. A second round of penalty kicks looked to be guaranteed before Harris showcased the lightning quick reflex skills that have helped make her name. Paul Riley’s decision to not pick A-Rod to be one of the initial five takers was telling, too. Rodriguez stood as a bystander and watched her team lose in penalties for the second time in just a month and a half.

 

A-Rod was A-Rod, y’know?

At least she has a wedding to look forward to? 2011 has been tough for A-Rod, and could get harder by the tail end of the year. Will Pia Sundhage continue to show her the same fidelity that Paul Riley has as Olympics qualifying looms? It was a thoroughly typical performance from Rodriguez today: at least six clear chances, one goal. Riley’s point about “you have to give her a couple of chances and she’s sure to score one of them” is valid, but it doesn’t make watching her any less frustrating. Philadelphia could have avoided penalty kicks altogether had A-Rod been more opportunistic – particularly the moment in which she rampaged through the box, missed her chance to pounce, and wastefully played the ball back to Tasha Kai. Alex Morgan wasn’t any more impressive on the opposite end of the field, though, which may take some venom out of the “Swap Morgan with A-Rod ASAP” campaign.  

 

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