Monthly Archives: December 2012

Top Ten CanWNT Related Moments of 2012

2012 can be looked back upon as a marquee year for the Canadian Women’s National Team. What began with tempered expectations of the team’s potential success as a result of their ill fated 2011 Women’s World Cup exploded into media and fan frenzy as the nation was captured by their valiant Olympic semi-final battle with the United States. A bronze medal later, the team’s earned new found supporters, praises and accolades, and have made a steady stream of public appearances.

Let’s revisit some of the biggest moments of the past year.

#10: A bevy of post-Olympic appearances

Players have been busy since the summer making appearances at various events. Whether it’s for being interviewed or honoured, or signing autographs, or promoting products or the sport, we can agree that it’s nice seeing them getting more attention.

For instance, Karina LeBlanc has been making regular appearances on CityTV Vancouver’s Breakfast Television doing Bachelor Canada recaps. LeBlanc, Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt recently chatted with BT with a quick mention of a documentary that the team is filming. Sinclair currently has a television commercial for Tide Sport playing nationwide and is being featured in Nike promotional materials. Players have also been making appearances at Canadian Olympic Committee events, charity events and soccer clinics across the country.

And, thanks to social media, a number of boundlessly entertaining memes and multi-media came to fruition throughout 2012. On Twitter, there were popular hashtags like #NorwegianRef and #SinclairDay (not to forget Chuck Norris “facts” from the 2011 WWC); Diana Matheson finally opened a Twitter account (@dmatheson8) and graced the world with her banter and sense of humour. Via YouTube, more evidence of Sophie Moments (i.e. moments when Schmidt trips or does something silly) came to light. The bronze medal game itself produced a number of powerful images of hugs, pure bliss and medal glory.

#9: British Columbia loses two W-League teams

If there was a Canadian club team that you’d dub as having one of the biggest impacts on the CanWNT, it might just be the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL W-League. However, on December 7, the Whitecaps announced that they wouldn’t field a team for the 2013 season, citing the formation of the new professional league in the US as a major factor behind the decision. It appears that the Whitecaps had interest in joining the new league, “but president Bob Lenarduzzi said the timing wasn’t right”.

Since their inaugural season in 2001, then known as the Vancouver Breakers, the Whitecaps women went to win two league titles (2004 and 2006) while fielding high caliber players and developing Canadian talent, including 14 of the 21 players on the 2012 Olympic squad.

To compound the loss, the Victoria Highlanders announced on December 20 that they too would be pulling out of the 2013 W-League season, although remaining in the lower tier Pacific Coast Soccer League. Founded in 2010, the Highlanders featured a number of local talent, such as Stephanie Parker, Lindsay Hoetzel, Shannon Elder, Nathalie Scharf among others from the University of Victoria Vikes.

With the demise of the western Canadian teams (and roster spots for young players), the remaining W-League clubs in the country are concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, including the Hamilton FC Rage, Laval Coments, London Gryphons, Ottawa Fury, Quebec City Amiral and Toronto Lady Lynx.

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NCAA Soccer – Mid-Term Recruiting Ranking Update

And the deluge of offseason content continues in earnest. Here are AWK’s latest recruiting class rankings for 2013 and 2014. The final rankings factor in incoming freshmen, international players, and transfers, but only the likely signed freshmen have been counted for these in most part. The transfers of Annie Steinlage to Virginia and Emily Armstrong to UConn have been factored in though.

For conference rankings for 2013, anyone not listed is unranked at the moment. Final rankings for 2013 and an update for 2014 will be out in July. Numbers in parentheses besides the Top 25 for 2013 indicated movement since last July’s update.

2013

1. Stanford
2. UCLA
3 (+2). North Carolina
4 (+3). Notre Dame
5 (-2). USC
6 (+5). Virginia
7 (-3). Florida State
8 (+9). West Virginia
9 (+1). Clemson
10 (-1). Portland
11 (-3). Santa Clara
12. Duke
13. Cal
14 (+1). Ohio State
15 (-9). Boston College
16 (-2). South Carolina
17 (+2). Penn State
18 (NR). Harvard
19 (+1). LSU
20 (-4). Michigan
21 (-3). Georgia
22 (+3). Maryland
23 (+1). Illinois
24 (+2). Wisconsin
25 (-2). Oklahoma State
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NCAA Soccer – Returning Starters for 2013

Anybody up for some more offseason content?

Here’s a provisional list of returning starters for each DI club next season, with conference changes for next year taken into account. This is mostly based on graduated seniors, but some players who have left their clubs early have also been factored in. Numbers in parentheses by each team are the number of players returning who won awards out of the number overall that won awards (for awards list, check here).

Numbers by conference name is the overall percentage of award winners in a conference returning for 2013. At the end of this post is a list of percentage of returning award winners listed by conference.

Finally, sorry for the shoddy formatting. WordPress was not cooperating much on this front.

ACC (69.8%)

8 – Boston College (2/3)
9 – Clemson
6 – Duke (5/5)
6 – Florida State (5/8)
7 – Maryland (2/5)
7 – Miami (FL) (1/1)
11 – NC State
7 – North Carolina (5/7)
9 – Pittsburgh
7 – Syracuse (2/3)
8 – Virginia (5/7)
7 – Virginia Tech (1/1)
6 – Wake Forest (2/3)

America East (64.3%)

6 – Albany (0/2)
4 – Binghamton (0/1)
5 – Hartford (3/7)
10 – Maine (3/3)
9 – New Hampshire (2/3)
9 – Stony Brook (5/6)
9 – UMBC (2/2)
7 – Vermont (3/4)

Atlantic 10 (73.3%)

9 – Butler (2/2)
8 – Dayton (3/6)
8 – Duquesne
6 – Fordham
7 – George Washington (1/1)
8 – La Salle (6/6)
8 – Rhode Island (1/1)
7 – Richmond (1/1)
8 – St. Bonaventure (1/2)
8 – St. Joseph’s (2/3)
8 – St. Louis
9 – UMass (1/1)
6 – VCU (4/7)
9 – Xavier

Atlantic Sun (73.5%)

10 – East Tennessee State (3/3)
8 – Florida Gulf Coast (5/8)
8 – Jacksonville (4/7)
8 – Kennesaw State (4/4)
9 – Lipscomb
9 – Mercer (4/5)
8 – North Florida (2/4)
8 – Northern Kentucky (1/1)
11 – SC Upstate (1/1)
10 – Stetson (1/1)

Big XII (65.0%)

8 – Baylor (3/7)
9 – Iowa State (1/1)
7 – Kansas (3/4)
7 – Oklahoma (0/1)
8 – Oklahoma State (2/5)
10 – TCU (3/4)
8 – Texas (6/7)
9 – Texas Tech (3/4)
8 – West Virginia (5/7)
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washington-spirit-logo

Answers and Questions about the Washington Spirit

Article updated 21 December 2012 (since the world didn’t end) with the latest information.

Professional soccer has returned to the nation’s capital for the third time, this time under a new name and organization, the Washington Spirit. Well, actually, the organization isn’t all that new as it’s the same one that’s been behind the DC United Women, the very successful W-League team that was named the league’s Rookie Club of the Year in 2011 and this year finished third in the entire league.

There are a lot of questions to be asked about the club, and, not surprisingly at this stage, more questions than answers.

Who’s running the show?
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NCAA Soccer – Year End Awards Index

I put this together after last season, but decided to make this year’s version public, hoping that some will find it interesting or an easy reference. I’ve basically listed everyone who won an All-Conference or NSCAA year end award this season, with the highest “level” of award listed for each player.

AA# = NSCAA All-American (followed by AA team number)
R# = NSCAA All-Region (followed by All-Region team number)
C# = All-Conference (followed by All-Conference team number, ‘CR’ used for All-Newcomer/Rookie/Freshman Team. Rookie honors not listed for players who made a regular All-Conference Team)

Major Conference Awards are also listed after All-American/Region/Conference designation.

Additionally, I’ve listed players who made conference All-Tournament teams with a “CT” designation, with conference tournament MVPs also listed. This goes for the College Cup as well, with All-College Cup Team members designated with “CCT”.

Finally, I’ve also listed award winners for Division II teams stepping up a level next season as a reference for next year.

Abilene Christian
-Brie Buschman (CT)
-Andrea Carpenter (C2)
-Julie Coppedge (R2)
-Whitney Lindholm (C2)

Air Force
-Felicia Sturgeon (C2)

Akron
-Klaire Adee (CR)
-Kelly DeNiro (C2)
-Katie George (CR)
-Ashley Hughes (C2)
-Megan Waskowski (CR)

Alabama
-Katie Bourgeois (CR)
-Pia Rijsdijk (C2)
-Merel van Dongen (R2, Freshman of the Year)
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NCAA Soccer (Sort Of) – And Now For Something Completely Different…

If you haven’t noticed, it’s the offseason, AKA the time for grandiose statistical projects. Yesterday, I got tipped off to Basketball State’s rather amazing list of total athletic expenses for DI schools and decided to have a gander at it. Naturally, my curiosity was stoked as I began to wonder which schools were getting their money’s worth as far as results on the field were concerned. So a day of number crunching later, I’ve come up with a loose metric to measure just that.

Simply, I divided the amount a school spent in athletic expenses by the amount of Learfield Director’s Cup points a school gained for the previous school year. It’s not perfect by any means on either expense and performance measures, but it’s still pretty interesting to look at. Schools who didn’t tally a point in the Director’s Cup aren’t listed, while neither are the few schools who financial information wasn’t available for. It gets a little wobbly with the smaller conferences, but I still found it interesting.

Least Money Spent Per Director’s Cup Point (Big Seven Conferences)

$44,845 – Pepperdine
$56,016 – Stanford
$57,758 – UCLA
$66,215 – Cal
$68,559 – Arizona
$70,322 – North Carolina
$71,235 – Illinois
$72,426 – Texas A&M
$75,199 – USC
$75,370 – Duke

Most Money Spent Per Director’s Cup Point (Big Seven Conferences)

$183,524 – Mississippi State
$194,111 – Ole Miss
$194,814 – Providence
$213,030 – Wake Forest
$237,526 – Washington State
$239,381 – San Francisco
$247,597 – Loyola Marymount
$317,278 – DePaul
$329,852 – Rutgers
$434,452 – Pittsburgh

Results for All Conferences After The Jump
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NCAA Tournament – North Carolina Reigns Again: The Team Is The Thing

In a total team performance for the ages, it was perhaps apropos that the game winning goal that sent the national title back to Chapel Hill came off the head of Hanna Gardner, as good a representative as any of the Tar Heels’ magical season. A walk-on from the Chapel Hill area, just three and a half months earlier, Gardner had found herself following the opening game, in Portland, of UNC’s amazing odyssey back in Chapel Hill having not made the club’s travel roster. Months later, it seems unfathomable, as the rookie stepped into the shows of injured senior Megan Brigman after that game and has scarcely looked back. She headed in the eventual winner early in the second half here while playing a pivotal role on the third goal that all but killed the game off.

And she was just one of many unsung heroines who now have etched their name in the same lineage as the North Carolina greats, in the same vein of names like Hamm, Parlow, and O’Reilly. They left their legacy indelibly as a continuation of the greatest legacy in college athletics, of a legacy that will almost assuredly never be bettered or approached.

There is Summer Green, out of high school a year early and as mature on the pitch as many a fifth-year senior. A player who led the line in the 4-2-3-1 confidently early in the season when some wondered if the goals would ever come.

There is Bryane Heaberlin, the freshman who won a youth world title only to be relegated to bench not soon after returning to Chapel Hill. There is the unmistakable courage and nerve she showed to step in and take responsibility in the shootout against Baylor to end years of shootout woe.

There is Caitlin Ball, a sophomore who logic dictates shouldn’t be a center-back for a national title winning team at just 5’5″. Logic be damned the past two seasons, where she’s gone from unheralded walk-on to invaluable defender for this North Carolina side.

There is Maria Lubrano, who missed two full seasons with injuries, the second due to a debilitating hip injury that required two surgeries and had some questioning if she’d ever play for the Tar Heels again. She played in every game and tied for second on the team with seven goals as a senior this year.
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NCAA Tournament – North Carolina vs Penn State – Stream of Consciousness Diary

PRE – Stands look packed, as they should be for a game of this magnitude.
PRE – Why even bring up the Sandusky thing in the presume? I mean, was ANYONE thinking about this before this match?
PRE – Personally, I’m just happy the rain’s gone away. Made for a miserable semi-final round.

2′ – Murray hoofs it long, Ohai brings it down, cuts back across, and unleashes an unstoppable shot of the underside of the bar and over the line. THAT. WAS. SENSATIONAL! An unbelievable strike from Ohai, as good as any you’ll see at this level.
2′ – That being said, no excuse for Ohai to have that much time to work on the ball when PSU had a 2v1 against her defensively.
3′ – PSU already pressing very high up the pitch as they feel the urgency to get after it offensively.

6′ – Great lay off for Hayes to Nairn, but the senior midfielder hammers it high. Must do much better considering she was quite open.
9′ – Hayes misses a sitter from a wide cross. PSU has to convert those if they want to win. Gardner has to do a much better job of marking as well, as Hayes was wide open at the far post.
10′ – Meg Morris is playing very deep at the moment on UNC’s left flank. I’d expect the wide midfielders to be a little conservative now with a lead.

11′ – PSU looking very vulnerable from wide positions early. Carolina working the flanks and crossing it in repeatedly. Wide midfielders for Nittany Lions have to track back more.
12′ – Love seeing Ohai’s movement so far. She’s clearly working the flanks, especially down the left.
13′ – Through the early part of this one, it seems like UNC’s been given a clear directive to hit Ohai with quick, vertical balls to try and catch the PSU defense napping.

19′ – Nairn dances on the ball and delivers an incisive through ball, with Schram timing her run to perfection. Gay comes off her line but seemingly gets caught in two minds a bit, allowing Schram to lift it over her, sneaking it inside the far post. Brilliant finish.

22′ – Some comedy defending for a moment in the box for PSU, but they eventually scramble it away.
25′ – Missed UNC header leads to a 2v2 counter the other way, but Hayes takes a bit of a heavy touch, so the chance goes.

26′ – Gardner lunges in from behind on Weber and is lucky to escape a booking.
30′ – Hate how they are referring to Gay coming off her line quickly to be “her style”. Come on, have you seen UNC play before? Keepers HAVE to be quick off their line with the three defenders playing such a high line typically.

34′ – Somehow, Alyssa Rich is left wide open on the corner of the area, and she drills a half-volley that McNulty pushes wide at full stretch. Great save from a great effort after some not so great defending.
35′ – Yup. I suspected it a bit, but UNC’s gone to four at the back, with Gardner and Murray out wide. They look 4-2-3-1-ish, but I’m not making any big presumptive guesses.

36′ – So. What’s the over/under on minutes until the announcers mention UNC’s switched formations?
37′ – Ohai leading the line in the 4-2-3-1 but shuttling between flanks a bit too.

HALF – Kind of died a bit after PSU nailed the equalizer but still well positioned.
HALF – Might have missed it if they mentioned it at the half, but can’t believe there’s been no discussion of UNC’s formation switch. Seems like it’d be kind of an important thing to mention.
HALF – And Cat Whitehill mentions the formation switch. Did the other announcers mention it before, and I missed it? Great interviewing from Cat to get Anson to tell her about starting off this half in the 4-2-3-1.
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NCAA Tournament – College Cup Final Preview – Penn State vs North Carolina

UNC vs PSU

(Projected Lineups and Formations)

Penn State vs North Carolina – 4:00 PM EST

-Sunday’s final will be full of high profile individual battles, but none will likely resonate as much as the midfield clash between seniors Amber Brooks of UNC and Christine Nairn of Penn State. It goes without saying that each is a critical component of their respective side’s gameplan, and if one is able to assert their will over the other, it’ll likely go a long way in deciding who lifts the national title on Sunday afternoon. Brooks played exceptionally deep at times on Friday night against Stanford, trying to make it harder for the Card to play through the Tar Heels but also limiting her offensive contributions somewhat. Space might be a little easier to come by against Penn State’s 3-5-2 on Sunday. PSU’s frontrunners probably aren’t going to drop back that much to press Carolina’s midfielders, while the Nittany Lion wide midfielders will likely be plenty busy with their UNC counterparts. It’d be awfully presumptuous to think Erica Walsh isn’t going to task both Maddy Evans and Raquel Rodriguez with trying to erase Crystal Dunn from the game. One could theoretically step up and add to the pressure on Brooks, but if the Carolina senior solves the pressure and finds Dunn 1v1, there could be trouble afoot with 3v3 in the Penn State defense against the UNC forwards. Nairn’s contributions going forward to try and overcome Brooks’ defensive attention will be crucial as well. Mallory Weber and Maya Hayes will be outnumbered 2v3 up front, and if the PSU wide midfielders can’t trouble their opposing markers, it’ll be up to Nairn to open up seams in the UNC defense, be it through direct dribbling, long range shooting, or pinpoint passing. Nairn can’t let her defensive duties slip though, as stopping Brooks from being the attacking catalyst in midfield will be vital as well. It’s a high profile battle of the highest order, with further implications as well, with both players likely to be coveted by teams in the new professional league come the new year.

-The odds aren’t quite so even in the other battle in central midfield, as Dunn figures to be watched closely by Raquel Rodriguez and Maddy Evans of Penn State. Rodriguez is versatile enough to play higher up the pitch if need be, but the Costa Rican will probably be called upon in a more defensive role to help try and stymie the forward forays of Dunn. The junior Tar Heel utility player has been ever-present in the NCAA Tournament thus far and played a massive role in Carolina’s goal in extra time that sunk Stanford. Her direct dribbling has terrorized many opponents thus far in November, but asking her to solve two direct opponents by herself will be tough, necessitating some support, be it from Brooks moving up, Bowen or Morris pinching in, or one of the forwards dropping back to help even the odds. Dunn’s also a great defender, of course, and she’ll have to be with the duo of Rodriguez and Evans also threatening going forward. The former is by far the more threatening of the duo in the run of play, and Anson Dorrance has to be a little worried that a composed partnership could be able to play around pressure from Dunn if the support isn’t there. In this regard, Kealia Ohai, likely the closest forward to that PSU duo, could be crucial in dropping back and ensuring the Nittany Lions can’t build out of the back through the center of the park with any ease.
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NCAA Tournament – Stanford vs North Carolina – Stream of Consciousness Diary

Chris’ Running Stream of Consciousness Diary of Stanford vs North Carolina

PRE – Love that Foudy acknowledged the social media questioning of the goal being offside at the start of the broadcast. Tap into that niche audience, ESPN.
PRE – Aaaaand, my tactical alignment for Stanford’s forwards was wrong, with Verloo spearheading the attack and not Ubogagu. D’oh. The perils of seeing a team play once this year.

1′ – It has to be said, that the field is an absolute embarrassment for the College Cup. I know the rain hasn’t helped matters, but San Diego had a year plus to figure out a way to ensure the field would be vaguely playable, and it’s just as messy as it was last year.
3′ – OK, ESPN’s graphic with the alignment was wrong, I think, as Stanford’s frontline looks to be lining up how I showed them in my preview.
3′ – PARITY. GGGGGRRRRRR. Note: North Carolina not winning every title isn’t parity. More teams getting to the College Cup? Not parity. Why don’t you ask the bottom hundred teams in DI how much parity there is in college soccer.
4′ – Gay kicks it right to Ubogagu. Yikes.

10′ – Gay takes a routine ball and slips a bit. Yeah. This field, folks.

11′ – Long Ohai shot is fumbled a bit by Oliver. Eek.
12′ – Stanford’s attack for much of the opening minutes has been hoofing it forward ingloriously. UNC’s built a tad more with short passes. It’s bizarro world.
13′ – OK, see, that’s why Nogueira should’ve been on the Hermann Trophy semi-finalist list. She sneaks her way up the pitch, wins a corner, and then gets a free header cleared off the line. Note to UNC: You’ve got one task on corner kicks, don’t let Nogueira get a body part on the ball.

16′ – It’s almost handbags at midnight, as Oliver briefly sees the red mist descend after Lubrano gives her the slightest of pushes as she tries to contend for a looping ball.

22′ – Gay comes waaaaay off her line and has her clearance deflected by the rushing Ubogagu. Nobody at the far post for Stanford though, and the Heels recover.

28′ – Ubogagu’s dribbling already giving UNC problems. Tighter marking needed.
30′ – Verloo bursts into space and plays a Hollywood ball into the box that just misses Ubogagu. What a pass.

31′ – Just as I’m about to type that Dunn’s been a bit muted today, she skips through two challenges and fires a low shot to Oliver.
32′ – Quon dives in for a tackle, gets nothing, and Dunn gets tracked by Thompson, which lets her spring Ohai down the left. Cross into the box is covered well though.

37′ – Gay comes out well off her line but makes another poor clearance and has to make a sprawling save as LaBonta tries to beat her from way downtown.
38′ – Ack. Gay coming off her line had nothing to do with that close shave, the poor kick forward did.

HALF – Stanford started a little shaky but settled better in the latter minutes as they stopped trying to jam it forward quickly. Gotta think that through balls to Ubogagu or Verloo are going to pay off sooner or later.
HALF – Also. The field. Yikes. Sunday’s going to be an ugly scene, I’m afraid. Dorrance mentioning how Gay was upset about the muddy field affecting her goal kicks.
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