Monthly Archives: September 2011

NCAA Soccer – Deadlocked in Durham

Duke-UVA

Encore, Please - Fans Will Be Hoping Duke and Virginia Meet Again Come November

Duke 0 – 0 Virginia

In a nerve wracking and exciting match, Duke and Virginia were unable to be separated after one hundred and ten thrilling minutes, finishing in a scoreless draw. The home side might consider themselves especially unfortunate after freshman star Kelly Cobb smashed the bar twice in the latter portions of the match. On the whole, Duke’s finishing on the evening left a lot to be desired, with only four of their twenty attempts on the evening finding the target, making the job a little easier for Virginia keeper Chantel Jones. Cobb was still a massive presence for Duke though, with eight shots, including those two that rang off the bar. While some may note that Duke was shutout for only the second time on the season, it’s also worth noting that the Blue Devils were also successful in shutting down Virginia’s prolific attack, though they needed another strong performance from keeper Tara Campbell. Duke’s title hopes are still very much alive, but they need to pick up all three points against Virginia Tech on Sunday to stay in a position of strength in the ACC.

Virginia might’ve gotten a bit lucky with Cobb hitting the bar twice, but it was still a hard fought battle with the Cavs deserving of escaping with a point. UVA had eight shots on goal, with Caroline Miller and Morgan Brian combining for seven of those. The visitors didn’t exactly silence the Duke attack (they did have twenty shots after all) but did just enough to keep them off the board, which isn’t something a lot of other teams can claim this year. Chantel Jones continues to have an excellent season, and this display was encouraging considering they’ve got another tough test ahead of themselves on Sunday afternoon against Wake Forest. The schedule for the Cavs eases up considerably after the next two matches, meaning Virginia could be in a pretty good position if they can pick up points against Wake and Florida State next week. The Cavs may be dodging a bullet as far as fatigue is concerned for Sunday’s match. While Virginia did end up going to extra time in this one, so did Wake against Virginia Tech, meaning the Cavs shouldn’t be at any great disadvantage fatigue-wise.
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NCAA Soccer – Non-Conference Snapshots – Big West and Others

Big Sky

190 – Northern Colorado
245 – Sacramento State
253 – Weber State
263 – Portland State
265 – Montana
274 – Idaho State
297 – Northern Arizona (D – @TCU)
321 – Eastern Washington

It has not been a good year for the Big Sky Conference. Most of the league is currently stationed under the 250 mark in the RPI, with only Northern Colorado currently in the RPI Top 200. Really, the only non-conference result worth mentioning is Northern Arizona’s shock draw at TCU, and even that might be pushing it a bit.

Big West

42 – UC Irvine (W – @Texas A&M, D – vs Santa Clara, W – Portland, W – @San Diego)
62 – Long Beach State (W – @San Diego)
75 – Cal State Fullerton (W – San Diego)
80 – Cal Poly (D – Pepperdine)
124 – Cal State Northridge (W – @Loyola Marymount)
138 – UC Davis
144 – UC Santa Barbara
208 – Pacific
224 – UC Riverside

UC Irvine’s got the profile to make it into the Big Dance in all likelihood if they’re on the bubble, while their conference mates can’t really say the same. Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton are both talented teams whose resumes seem built on the backs of victory over a collapsing San Diego. The league on the whole looks very competitive again this year, meaning Irvine might get some NCAA Tournament company if someone catches fire late.
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Shots from Distance: The Confusing State of Women’s Soccer in Liberia

Women's soccer continues to make progress through the hardship in a country that attempts to do the same.

By Paul Coover

Dehkontee Sayon shakes her head slowly, side to side, listening. She does not argue with what is being said, but she is saddened by it. A captain and defender on the Liberian women’s national soccer team, she is seated at a restaurant in Monrovia, the capital of the small, West African country, discussing the team she loves but cannot seem to lead to any meaningful victories.

Her coach, Lucretius Togba, is similarly without answers. Seated next to Sayon, he speaks.

“We wait until there is competition before we start preparing, and it’s wrong,” says Togba. “We don’t have a specific style that would make it difficult for teams to counter us. We blend our individual skills; we play more individual football than team football.”

This is where Sayon drops her gaze to the table.

“The weakness of my national team is we are not together,” she says. “We are not training together as a team. The only time we get together to train is when we have an international match.”

 

Liberia, situated on the Atlantic and squeezed between the Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, has an especially troubled history in a part of the world renowned for troubled histories. Founded by freed American slaves in 1820, the country is best known for the rule of Charles Taylor, who came to power in a civil war that left over 200,000 Liberians dead and lasted, on and off, for 14 years. The country is still rebuilding, but it is nearly impossible to have a conversation about its potential without mention of soccer player George Weah, a native Liberian who was the World FIFA Player of the Year in 1995 with AC Milan. Weah is proof enough to many Liberians that the country is capable of greatness. So integral is soccer to the country’s identity that Weah finished second in the Liberia’s first free elections in 2005 based almost entirely on his reputation as an athlete.

But thus far success in the sport has been elusive.

The Liberian women’s national team is only provisionally ranked in the FIFA world rankings due to general inactivity; they join teams like Qatar and Afghanistan – infamous for their societies’ marginalization of women – with this distinction. Their only games on record this season were two against Ghana. They lost both by a combined score of eleven goals to none.

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NCAA Soccer – The First XI for September 30, 2011

Kate Schwindel

West Virginia's Kate Schwindel Will Aim to Keep the Mountaineers Ahead of The Big East Pack on Friday

(31) Georgetown vs (25) West Virginia – 3:00 PM EST [Last Year: West Virginia 3 - 0 Georgetown]

Georgetown’s certainly been all over the map this year. The Hoyas have gone from losing to William & Mary and Seton Hall to firing off three straight wins in Big East action to revive both their Big East title and NCAA Tournament at-large bid hopes. Georgetown may have logged their most important win of the year after that loss to Seton Hall, downing Rutgers back in Washington D.C. decisively two days later. Two wins on the road last weekend has the Hoyas back in the title hunt, and Georgetown could find themselves in a great position with a win against West Virginia. The Mountaineers, like last year, started out slowly, only to start heating up over the mont of September. Nikki Izzo-Brown’s team has reeled off six wins in a row to climb to the top of the Big East table, including a statement win over Marquette a few weeks ago. Georgetown’s the toughest team by a long way left on West Virginia’s schedule, meaning a win on Friday afternoon could put the Mountaineers on a clear path to the Big East title. Victory over Georgetown would also be a big boost to WVU as they seek to climb the ladder towards a national seed in November as well.
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NCAA Soccer – Bubble Watch v1.0

With the release of the first set of official RPI rankings, it’s a good time for this year’s first edition of Bubble Watch to help try and sort out who’ll be dancing come November and who’ll be home early for the holidays. As was the case last year, I’ve taken an objective slant on putting teams into “lock” or “bubble” categories, using the guidelines from Chris Thomas’ exhaustive study of NCAA Tournament qualifiers over the past four seasons which can be found here. With the data still in its relatively early stages of formation, categorizations are pretty conservative right now, explaining the low number of teams actually classified as “locks” and the overall large number of teams included in this edition of the Watch. Teams naturally work their way into lock status or out of consideration each week, and Bubble Watch will be updated accordingly. This data is taking into account the “unofficial” but generally very accurate RPI rankings through Wednesday’s matches.

America East
-Bubble: Boston University, Hartford

Can Boston U avoid a potentially crushing snub should they fall short of the league’s automatic bid? You’d have to say that with seven of the league’s nine teams below two hundred in the RPI, it doesn’t look great for them. The Terriers have wins over Washington and Portland and a draw with Boston College in their back pocket, but the loss to UMass could be a killer if BU doesn’t win the America East Tournament. That’s not a guarantee this year either with Hartford looking in decent form. The Hawks have mainly picked on smaller teams to build their record but are still unbeaten in ten matches and could make life difficult on the perennial league favorites.

Atlantic 10
-Bubble: Dayton, La Salle, Richmond, UMass, Xavier

Dayton are overwhelming favorites in the A10 this year and look a good bet if they end up on the bubble as well with wins over Kansas, Ohio State, and Kentucky to tout, with their lone loss coming against Wisconsin. The Flyers also profit from facing Xavier, La Salle, and Richmond in league play, benefitting from the trio’s not so bad RPIs. La Salle’s a great story sitting at 8-0-1 and having not conceded a goal thus far in 2011. Richmond and UMass have also been enjoying fine seasons, while Xavier has been much improved as well. Realistically, the only way this league’s a multiple bid conference though is if Dayton’s wings are clipped in the A10 Tournament.

ACC
-Lock: Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, Boston College
-Bubble: Florida State, North Carolina, Miami (FL), NC State, Maryland, Virginia Tech

You can pretty much add Florida State and North Carolina to the lock list, as it’s all but official that the ACC will be a six bid conference at least. After that? Well, it gets interesting. Miami (FL) is best placed in the computers and does have a win at BYU and no bad losses but may not even be in a good position to qualify for the ACC Tournament which would all but shatter their hopes of making it back to the Big Dance. Maryland’s just won one of their last five and is short on quality wins, though you’d have to think they’d make it in if they get enough wins to qualify for the ACC Tournament. NC State has a win over LSU, no bad losses, and now a draw with Maryland. You’d have to think that they’d also be in good shape if they managed to qualify for the ACC Tournament. Virginia Tech is the team with the most to sweat about at this point. There’s little to speak of on their non-conference resume, and they’ve opened up league play with two losses. A couple of wins would get them back on the right side of the bubble in all likelihood, but just sneaking into the ACC Tournament still might not be enough.
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NCAA Soccer – The First XI for September 29, 2011

Caroline Miller

Ten & Counting - Virginia Fans Hope More Goals for Caroline Miller Equal Another Big Win In The Triangle On Thursday

(3) Duke vs (7) Virginia – 8:00 PM EST [Last Season: Virginia 2 - 0 Duke]

It’s another mammoth ACC clash (really, are there very many other types?) on Thursday night as Duke looks to defend their turf and take another step towards the ACC title against Virginia. The Blue Devils have opened up the league campaign on a flyer with three wins out of three, including an opening day defeat of Florida State in Durham. But the real meat of Duke’s ACC schedule begins right now, and the team needs to pick up all six points this week to keep their title hopes in great shape before a three match road trip that promises to push the Blue Devils to their very limit. Duke’s made it look criminally easy so far. The only teams to have even gotten within a goal of the Blue Devils have been Auburn (in the team’s only loss), Ole Miss, and Florida State. Beating Virginia by multiple goals is a major ask though, especially after the Cavs are bound to come into Durham on a major high after finally topping rivals North Carolina on the thirty-eight attempt. That win was a must for Virginia’s ACC title hopes after the team had dropped a match at Boston College a week earlier. With a crucial weekend at Duke and Wake Forest looming before the schedule eases up with four of their next five back at Klockner, the Cavs know that two wins would again heap the pressure on their title rivals going into the stretch run of the season. The star power on the big stage on Thursday night will be immense, but extra focus figures to fall on Morgan Brian of UVA and Duke’s Kelly Cobb, two of the nation’s top freshmen so far this season.
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2011 NCAA Soccer Preview – Pac-12 (Yes, Really!) – Subtraction By Addition?

Mariah Nogueira

The Wild Side - Stanford & Mariah Nogueira Will Try To Reign As Queens of The Pac-12 Jungle Again in 2011

The Pac-10 swells from ten to twelve members and morphs into the Pac-12 this season, leaving many to wonder about the effects that the league’s new members will have in both the short-term and in the long-term on one of the elite soccer conferences in Division I. A cynic might note that it might be a case of subtraction by addition given the very recent histories of new members Colorado and Utah. The fact that that statement could even be muttered is an indicator of just how fast fortunes can turn in the world of college soccer.

Colorado was once an annual contender in the Big XII and were again seemingly in a position to win some games in the NCAA Tournament in 2008 after doing well in the regular season and earning a national seed and hosting rights for a regional. But the Buffs would end up going down as the answer to a painful trivia question, now the most recent seeded team to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, being shocked by minnows South Dakota State. The program has never really recovered, and though they had some moments last year with wins over UCLA and Texas A&M, the consistency hasn’t been there, and Colorado enters its new home very much an unknown commodity.

It’s no better for Utah who, up until a few seasons ago, were beating Pac-10 teams and contending for Mountain West titles with consistent regularity. Now, the Utes have seen some very, very lean years in Salt Lake City and were strugglers in the Mountain West last year, a frightening proposition considering the massive step up in class the team faces this year. While nobody’s realistically expecting the Utes to contend for a title right out of the gate in the Pac-12, it remains to be seen whether the newbies can even get within touching distance of mid-table in the wildly competitive league.

The real intrigue of course should be at the top of the league. All-conquering Stanford are in a good position to win yet another league title despite the departure of talisman Christen Press. The presence of Teresa Noyola, Rachel Quon, and Lindsay Taylor among others should ensure another national title run for the Card this year. State rivals UCLA have a new boss in B.J. Snow and plenty of new talent to partner up with Sydney Leroux, and the Bruins will be eager to make some noise of their own after an inconsistent year in 2010. Don’t count out Oregon State either, who return almost all of last year’s strong Pac-10 runners-up and are bossed by rising coaching star Linus Rhode.

It’ll be worth watching the middle of the pack and more specifically their RPIs though. If Utah and Colorado struggle again, the league’s overall bottom line come the postseason could be hurt, and the Pac-12′s days of thinking about seven or eight bids to the Big Dance might be a relic of the past like the league’s old moniker.
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NCAA Soccer – Non-Conference Snapshot – Big South

Not often that a league starts conference play on a Tuesday, but here you go…

Big South

148 – Liberty
174 – Campbell
177 – Charleston Southern
191 – Radford
245 – Winthrop
247 – High Point
252 – Presbyterian
289 – Gardner-Webb
297 – Coastal Carolina
298 – VMI
313 – UNC Asheville

Liberty got pasted by Virginia in their opener but have rebounded well to rise to head of the class, at least in RPI terms at the moment. You’ll notice the lack of significant results for any of the league’s clubs, though many have kept it close against their much fancied opponents on multiple occasions. Not that being on top of the RPI or the regular season table has counted for much in this league in the past, with the Big South Tournament always an unpredictable affair. The bottom three of Coastal Carolina, VMI, and UNC Asheville are undoubtedly among the worst clubs in DI this year though and will have to dig very deep if they want to qualify for the Big South Tournament.

Lots of Notables for September 27th, 2011

WPS

  • As Fox reported early Monday morning, WPS introduced Jennifer O’Sullivan as the league’s new CEO. O’Sullivan is the former Vice President of Legal & Labor Affairs for the Arena Football League (AFL). Read Beau Dure’s piece on espnW for more background on O’Sullivan. It’s nice to hear she’ll be operating out of New York.

 

  • Boston Breakers season ticket sales for next season are now on sale.

 

  • One year and one day ago today, FC Gold Pride defeated the Philadelphia Independence 4-0 in the 2010 WPS Championship Game.

 

Transfers/loans

  • Allie Long has signed with French Feminine Division I side PSG. Her contract will be up in March. Ella Masar has agreed to terms with PSG, but hasn’t yet signed. If the deal is finalized, it will last through June 30, 2012. PSG finished as runners-up last season and are in the 2011-12 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

 

  • It’s been a long time since American players last took their talents to France. A spate of U.S.-based players appeared for Olympique Lyon six years ago. In 2005, Aly Wagner, Hope Solo, Lorrie Fair, Christie Welsh, and Danielle Slaton all briefly appeared for Lyon. High school standout Lindsay Horan also trained with Lyon this summer. 

 

  • In other France transfer news, former Sky Blue FC midfielder Rosana has signed with Olympique Lyon.

 

  • Fresh off the surprise signing of goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri, W-League side Newcastle Jets are reportedly in for German defender/midfielder Ariane Hingst. The two-time World Cup winner is the third-most capped player for the German National Team with 173 appearances. According to the report, the Jets also hope to sign Lisa De Vanna.

 

Canada

  • John Herdman named his 17-player squad for the 2011 Pan American Games. Christine Sinclair, Candace Chapman, goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands, Marquette University midfielder/defender Vanessa Legault-Cordisco, and Brittany Timko have all been included despite missing out on Canada’s recent friendlies against the U.S. Thirteen players were part of Canada’s 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup team. Most notably, Herdman has dropped a handful of familiar names including Erin McLeod, Stephanie Labbe, Carmelina Moscato, Melissa Tancredi, and Emily Zurrer. All five players play in the Damallsvenskan. The season is set to end three days before the tournament starts.

 

  • The tournament will run from October 18 to October 27 in Guadalajara. Group A features Mexico, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Chile. Group B contains Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, and Argentina. Brazil are the defending champions as they defeated a U-20 United States team 5-0 in 2007. The USWNT will not be participating in this year’s tournament.

 

  • More reports suggest that the newly renovated BC Place could host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final. CSA General Secretary Peter Montopoli says the host selection process could be “a long one”.

 

USWNT

  • The USWNT could travel to Japan on a goodwill trip later this year. (H/T Beau)

 

  • Alex Morgan and Hope Solo are in the latest This Is SportsCenter commercial. They must have had a hard time coming up with ideas.

[vsw id="rFyoOT_7LQY" source="youtube" width="450" height="450" autoplay="no"]

 

  • Hope Solo’s jive from last night:

[vsw id="5L_CCJPIGJ0" source="youtube" width="450" height="450" autoplay="no"]

 

  • Some staggering attendance figures for you: The team’s three pre-WWC domestic friendlies this year attracted an aggregate total of 16,409 people. 18,570 were on hand in Portland.

 

  • The combined attendance from the USWNT’s 7 home friendlies in ’10 was 36,766. The KC & Portland games alone attracted a total of 34,761 fans.

 

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NCAA Soccer – Lucky #38: Virginia Finally Victorious Against North Carolina

Caroline Miller

History Maker - Caroline Miller Fired Virginia To Their First Win Ever Over North Carolina

North Carolina 0 – 1 (Miller 105′) Virginia [aet]

Virginia finally ended years and years of agony as they defeated ACC title rivals North Carolina for the first time in a staggering thirty-eight tries at Fetzer Field on Sunday afternoon. Caroline Miller wrote herself into Virginia lore after Morgan Brian slipped a luscious through ball behind the UNC defense, leaving Miller with an assured finish. The Cavs had looked to have spurned multiple opportunities at victory through the match with Miller being denied by Anna Sieloff in the second half, while Gloria Douglas was stonewalled by Sieloff again in extra time. Virginia dealt with UNC’s 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations on the day and remarkably held the Heels to just two shots on goal, none of which belonged to Kealia Ohai, Crystal Dunn, or Courtney Jones. Some of Virginia’s finishing left a little to be desired, but they came good in the end. Caroline Miller is looking more and more like a top notch ACC striker with her tenth of the season, while Morgan Brian looks as good as the massive hype that followed her into college before the season. Duke awaits on Thursday in yet another ACC megaclash between title hopefuls.

A less than encouraging performance on the whole from North Carolina, whose offense sputtered noticeably. Dunn and Ohai were clamped down upon, while Jones’ streak of wild and inaccurate shooting reared its ugly head again. UNC’s best chance was from Brooke Elby’s header off a Emmalie Pfankuch corner which Chantel Jones pushed onto the bar. Pfankuch would be stopped by Jones one-on-one in the extra session as well to keep UNC off the board for the afternoon. There still looks to be a great deal of discomfort with the 4-2-3-1 system UNC switched to in the middle of this match, which has to be alarming since ACC play is an unforgiving beast that’s unlikely to let up any time soon. Carolina’s defense wasn’t in shambles, but there were still chances for Virginia that they couldn’t capitalize on before Miller’s winner. With the volatile Florida State offense coming up on Thursday, it goes without saying that UNC needs to tighten things up in back. Defeat in Tallahassee could spell doom for the Heels’ chances at lifting the ACC title come the end of the regular season.
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