Monthly Archives: September 2013

NCAA Soccer – RPI Bracket 1.0 + Bubble Team Rankings

Some notes:

-Automatic bid winners are denoted with an asterisk. League leaders are projected auto bid winners after half of a league’s games have been played (that’s nobody right now). Until then, the team with the highest RPI is projected as the auto bid winner.

-As is custom, teams currently under .500 are not projected into the bracket as at-large bids.

-I ranked the bubble teams according to Chris Thomas’ chart that denotes values to wins over RPI Top 50 teams. That chart used the adjusted RPI, but I’m using the unadjusted RPI for brevity’s sake but will go back to the adjusted RPI before my final projected bracket.

-Will update the RPI bracket after every Friday and Sunday, with more updates perhaps during conference tournament week.

SEEDED

1. Stanford – Pac-12*
2. Virginia – ACC*
3. Penn State – Big Ten*
4. North Carolina – ACC

5. Georgetown – Big East*
6. Florida State – ACC
7. UCLA – Pac-12
8. Wake Forest – ACC

9. South Carolina – SEC*
10. Denver – Summit*
11. Virginia Tech – ACC
12. Notre Dame – ACC

13. Boston College – ACC
14. UCF – AAC*
15. Santa Clara – WCC*
16. Portland – WCC
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NCAA Soccer – The First XI for September 29, 2013 – Baylor vs West Virginia

Baylor vs West Virginia – 1:00 PM

Though Texas Tech will figure to have some say in the matter, these two teams could take a big step towards the Big XII title with a win on Sunday afternoon. The visitors made an emphatic statement on Friday by going into Stillwater and toppling Oklahoma State in a 2-1 win that flattered the defeated Cowgirls. The visiting Mountaineers ended up peppering the OSU goal for much of the game but their shooting was wayward for much of the night. Still, the defense did their job in holding the Cowgirls to just a couple shots on goal, with one of those being the penalty kick late that made the scoreline look a lot closer than it really was. Kate Schwindel and Kelsie Maloney were on target and will need to combined with Frances Silva up top again on Sunday to threaten a Baylor defense which has allowed DI’s fewest goals thus far. The Mountaineers will be keen on trying to avoid a protracted showdown in midfield, as the club is still feeling the pain of season ending injuries to Kara Blosser and Ali Connelly earlier in the campaign. Nothing will be set in stone, but the Mountaineers will have to be confident of their Big XII title hopes if they can come out of Sunday with their second successive win over a title rival on the road. WVU’s also trying to dig themselves out of an early hole in regards to the RPI, and taking out Baylor in Waco would be another big boost to their hopes of a national seed come November.

Baylor haven’t lost in well over a calendar year, with that long string of results being but put in jeopardy on Sunday. The Bears are flying though, having conceded just a single goal all season while keeping five straight clean sheets coming into this one. That includes a rather ugly 1-0 win on Friday against Oklahoma in the league opener. Many of the club’s usual suspects on attack were kept in check, meaning it was up to reserve Lindsay Burns, whose cross from distance caromed in after kissing the post. Three points are three points though, and Baylor will likely take them any way they can get them, while focusing on another strong defensive effort to shut down the Sooners. Ashley York and Natalie Huggins have led the way on offense, combining for seven goals, though nobody on the Bears has more than York’s four. The club has been diverse in its scoring output though, with four players on three or more goals. Defense is still the leading attraction here though, and the Bears will face one of their toughest challenges in shutting down WVU’s robust attack on Sunday. It’s part of a huge stretch that also features a non-conference game against BYU and a match against rivals Texas Tech the next Sunday, so we’ll probably know a whole lot more about these Bears by mid-October. A win on Sunday would certainly put the club in the box seat for a league title though.
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NCAA Soccer – The First XI for September 28, 2013 – Colorado vs Stanford

Colorado vs Stanford – 3:00 PM

Colorado’s mettle figures to get a true test on Saturday afternoon in Boulder as the Buffs host Stanford in the Pac-12 opener. It’s safe to say that CU did not really rise to their last big challenge, losing emphatically in the derby with Denver, 3-0. It’s a result that didn’t submarine their RPI but probably did bring them back to Earth after such a blazing start to the season. It was back to business last weekend though, as Colorado had little trouble dispatching Stony Brook and UNLV in Boulder, putting them on eight wins for the season and leaving them in fairly good shape heading into the league season. The familiar scoring duo of Brie Hooks and Anne Stuller were on target on Friday before turning provider, with an assist each against UNLV on Sunday, with Darcy Jerman netting her first two of the season in a 3-1 win. Hooks and Stuller have the potential to cause a lot of problems for many a Pac-12 defense this season, and they might have to be on song again in this one, as the defense has wobbled a bit as of late, conceding five in the past four games, while keeping just a single clean sheet in that span. The defensive performance against Denver, a team with an offense that is good but not at Stanford’s level, is a definite indicator of potential problems the club might have in slowing the Card’s attack. The reward for an upset would be huge though and would likely punch CU’s NCAA Tournament ticket.

Stanford comes into this one trying to defend its unbelievable forty-two match conference winning streak, the third longest in NCAA history, while also looking to kick off its bid for a fifth straight league title in style. Last weekend was eventful to say the least for the Card. The college soccer world was rocked by the announcement that Emily Oliver was retiring after a series of concussions, with the goalkeeper getting a heartfelt send off before the game at Saint Mary’s (CA), a 5-0 thumping. Stanford looked to be getting off to a great start when Courtney Verloo scored in the second minute before the tide turned, and Santa Clara struck back twice to take the lead into the final minute of play. But these Card never go down without a fight, and they shocked their hosts with a goal from the penalty spot and then Verloo’s third of the game off a free kick with a few minutes remaining in extra time. While there was some serious contention as to the foul that led up to that winning free kick, there was no denying Verloo’s brilliance, as the senior looks to be growing into a role as offensive leader. She had great help from Taylor Uhl, who had four shots on goal in the SCU match to give the club a dangerous one-two punch. Paul Ratcliffe did end up going with a very short bench, using just rookie Ryan Walker-Hartshorn in major minutes as a reserver. It’s not going to hurt the club this week, with just one game on the docket, but how Stanford manages their bench in the meat of Pac-12 play could be crucial. As for Saturday, the Card will be happy to get out of Boulder with another win, but the Buffs took them to the limit last year and will be looking to go one step better here.
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NCAA Soccer – The First XI for September 27, 2013 – Ole Miss vs Florida

Ole Miss vs Florida – 8:00 PM

It’s time to get a feel of Ole Miss’ ceiling, as the Rebels have the chance to make a huge statement with the visit of conference titans Florida on Friday night. The Rebels showed their mettle last Friday in the league opener by coming back late to down Arkansas on the road and claim three priceless points on the road. Ole Miss then dispatched UALR in the non-conference finale on Sunday, with Rafaelle Souza continuing to devastate defenses, coming into the weekend near the top of the DI scoring charts as she continues to make a claim for being a highly prized commodity come January’s NWSL Draft. There are still some questions about this club against the very top teams, but most of those questions may be confined to the road, as the Ole Miss has made Oxford a fortress in four home games so far with fifteen scored and zero conceded. Sure, Florida is the best team to come through here by a mile so far this season, but the Rebels should have proved by far that they’re no flat-track bullies. While the deadly duo of Souza and Mandy McCalla should give Florida’s defense plenty to think about, it’s the defense that will have it all to prove. The club has kept just one clean sheet against the four teams in the uRPI Top 100 it’s played, and with Savannah Jordan amongst the weapons UF brings, that has to be a concern. If Ole Miss can weather the storm and come up with six points this weekend against Florida and Auburn, they might well be thinking beyond the NCAA Tournament and perhaps towards an SEC title.

SEC royalty, Florida certainly got their title defense off to a regal beginning by mauling Alabama in the league opener, 3-0. The resounding win extended the club’s unbeaten streak to six games and was a great way to bounce back after the Gators had slipped to a disappointing draw against South Florida in Tampa five days earlier. Even with that draw, Florida’s been on fire since the beginning of September, scoring fifteen in six games and conceding just one, to USF. Savannah Jordan’s torrid scoring pace continued against the Crimson Tide, with the rookie adding two more from inside twelve yards to her total, putting her on ten for the season. With Nora Neset Gjoen on international duty with the Norwegian WNT for World Cup Qualifying, Taylor Burke slid back between the pipes against Alabama and was relatively untroubled, forced into just three saves to keep the clean sheet. Against a confident Ole Miss side and a desperate Missouri team, Florida could face one of its most challenging weekends of the season. These Gators still haven’t traveled outside of the state of Florida this season, and it’ll be worth watching to see how they respond to the challenge. With the marquee matchup of Souza vs Jordan and a battle between two SEC title hopefuls, this could well be one of the weekend’s best matches.
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NCAA Soccer – The First XI for September 26, 2013 – Duke vs Virginia

Duke vs Virginia – 7:00 PM

With nine matches left before the postseason, there’s likely a palpable tension in Durham as Duke sits on a record of 4-4-2 and have just one win in four ACC matches. Besides potentially running afoul of the .500 requirement for at-large bids, while also increasingly looking like being in a fight just to make it into the ACC Tournament, a result that would’ve been unthinkable at the beginning of the season. The Blue Devils might have hit a low point last Sunday when they were up 2-0 on the road against Syracuse but promptly coughed up the lead after the break, being pegged back for two goals within the first twenty minutes of the second half. It kept up the disturbing trend of Duke’s defense not being near good enough in the league, as after shutting out Miami (FL) in the opener, the club has promptly given up seven goals in their last three league games. The offense has proven somewhat capable, not being shutout since the loss to South Carolina, with Laura Weinberg and Kim DeCesare starring against Syracuse, but the club still hasn’t had that explosive performance that would set most minds at ease. The focus going into this one has to be on defense though. Puzzlingly, the club bright Mollie Pathman off the bench against the Orange on Sunday, though she did play for eighty-one minutes. You’d have to think the senior will be on the starting backline against Thursday’s opponent, but in reality, this is a Duke club that only used two reserves for more than ten minutes last time out, so you wonder how much faith in the bench head coach Robbie Church has. A result against Virginia, even a draw, would solve more than a few problems, but three points would cause Durham to exhale. Defeat would only ramp up the pressure going into a stretch of four straight games against potential mid-table rivals that carries the club through the middle of October.

The lone side with a 100% record going into Week Six of the season, Virginia might well be looking for some revenge on a Duke side that ended their season in the Sweet Sixteen last season. The Cavs probably had a few more speedbumps than they would have liked last week, with the club going behind to both Boston College and Pittsburgh on the road, before battling back for victory. UVA also, it has to be said, was on the road for the first time all season last week, and you have to wonder if there’s the slightest shred of vulnerability away from the comfy confines of Klockner in Charlottesville. The good news is that after Thursday, six of the club’s last nine are back at home, but first, there’s a tricky trip to a desperate Duke side. Virginia went down early against Pittsburgh in a shocking turn of events, but the Cavs didn’t waste a lot of time in making their pressure count, with Morgan Brian netting an equalizer. The red hot Makenzy Doniak had an absolute stormer, with two goals and six shots on goal and looks to be rounding into a top class forward for the club. There was also some interesting lineup shuffling for UVA. Danielle DeLisle started in goal in place of Morgan Stearns, while usual super sub Brittany Ratcliffe got a start, while the excellent Danielle Colaprico took up a reserve role. It remains to be seen if its squad rotation from Steve Swanson or a more permanent pattern, but it certainly bears watching as we get into the heart of ACC season. UVA will be favored up to the showdown against Notre Dame in a few weeks, and collecting wins until then will be crucial in firming up their position as a favorite for a #1 seed come November.
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NCAA Soccer – But What About…? Mid-Major Non-Conference Review Part II

Big South

Liberty’s doing a whole lot better than I expected thus far, topping the Big South RPI rankings, while Coastal Carolina has also defied expectations early on.  My preseason favorites, High Point, had a horrendous start but come into league play with a couple of wins from their past two games.  Radford, Winthrop, and Longwood also look poised to strike from the middle of the RPI in the Big South right now, while Presbyterian has also been better than expectations in league play.  Biggest disappointment?  Charleston Southern is languishing off the back of a dismal four match winless run after winning three of four to open the season, with a defeat to USC Upstate especially egregious.

Big East

Georgetown looks to be in the clear for an at-large bid, though their lofty ranking at this stage would appear to reveal the potential for a high national seed if the club wins big down the stretch.  Marquette might be sweating a bit after a non-conference season whose best results are wins against Colorado College and Louisville.  Saint John’s (NY) and DePaul have also enjoyed fine openings to the season, but the real sleeper for an at-large bid is Butler, whose win over Michigan may prove priceless come November.  Xavier and Creighton have done their part to keep their heads above water in non-conference play, defying predictions of a season of struggle.  The same can’t be said of some of the league’s holdovers from its previous incarnation.  Villanova are again disappointing, while Providence have made predictions of mid-table obscurity look generous.
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NCAA – Non-Conference Review – Big XII

RPI Rank After Sunday Listed in Parentheses.

Best uRPI Non-Conference Win

13 – Texas (Georgia)
23 – TCU (Arkansas)
41 – Texas Tech (Arizona State)
60 – Baylor (Boise State)
67 – West Virginia (Syracuse)
75 – Oklahoma (Oral Roberts)
88 – Oklahoma State (Oklahoma)
113 – Kansas (Purdue)
180 – Iowa State (Saint Louis)

Average uRPI Non-Conference Win

135.7 – Texas Tech
154.6 – Oklahoma
156.1 – Baylor
158.0 – Oklahoma State
159.6 – Texas
174.5 – West Virginia
183.8 – TCU
196.8 – Kansas
254.6 – Iowa State
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NCAA – Non-Conference Review – Pac-12

RPI Rank After Sunday Listed in Parentheses.

Best uRPI Non-Conference Win

7 – UCLA (Notre Dame)
8 – Stanford (Santa Clara)
35 – Colorado (Colorado College)
47 – Utah (Utah State)
51 – Cal (UC Irvine)
51 – Washington State (UC Irvine)
57 – Arizona State (Illinois)
95 – Washington (Seattle)
99 – Oregon (Texas)
99 – Oregon State (Texas)
103 – USC (San Diego)
130 – Arizona (Hawaii)

Average uRPI Non-Conference Win

73.0 – Stanford
98.3 – UCLA
112.8 – Arizona State
118.5 – Utah
135.5 – Colorado
137.5 – Oregon
144.4 – Washington State
152.2 – USC
152.5 – Oregon State
163.8 – Washington
175.5 – Cal
211.0 – Arizona
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NCAA – Non-Conference Review – AAC

RPI after Sunday listed in parentheses.

Best uRPI Non-Conference Win

26 – UConn (Boston College)
52 – Rutgers (Princeton)
63 – Memphis (Samford)
71 – Louisville (Butler)
77 – UCF (Washington)
121 – South Florida (South Alabama)
127 – SMU (TCU)
139 – Cincinnati (Cornell)
202 – Temple (Binghamton)
289 – Houston (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi)

Average uRPI Non-Conference Win

122.0 – UConn
134.4 – Rutgers
138.1 – Memphis
153.4 – UCF
196.5 – Louisville
204.8 – Cincinnati
212.4 – South Florida
218.4 – SMU
257.0 – Temple
289.0 – Houston
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NCAA Soccer – The First XI for September 22, 2013 – Santa Clara vs Stanford

Santa Clara vs Stanford – 10:00 PM

Inevitably, the script has changed significantly on this one since both clubs took to the pitch on Thursday. The nation was stunned by the news that All-American goalkeeper Emily Oliver was retiring after a spate of injuries, including concussions, proved too much to overcome. The Card were never going to lose with the motivation of Oliver announcing her retirement in front of the home fans, and Stanford crushed Saint Mary’s (CA) in grand fashion, with Taylor Uhl netting her seventh and eighth goals of the season in a 5-0 drubbing. The starting gloves now belong to rookie Jane Campbell, the uber-talented and uber-hyped netminder who now has the task of keeping out a Santa Clara attack featuring the likes of Morgan Marlborough, Julie Johnston, and Sofia Huerta among others. Then again, if the offense keeps rolling as it did against the Gaels, her task will be that much easier. After some serious growing pains early in the season in August, Stanford looks to have rounded into form as the temperatures cool. Four straight wins by multiple goals and fifteen scored and one conceded show that the club may be settling into a groove right before league play. On the other hand, the club has also largely feasted off weaker teams, with the exception of Maryland, and they’ll want to show they can do it against a contender on Sunday night. Battling a lot of teams for a potential #1 seed, a positive result against their local rivals could be a crucial one in the race for home advantage in the NCAA Tournament.

Though the pain of the team’s humiliating opening weekend of the season has likely receded a bit, Santa Clara were still stung by Thursday’s draw with Cal. The Broncos had likely chewed up their margin of error for a high national seed and the chance to avoid Stanford as long as possible in the NCAA Tournament with those two early defeats, but the club had done well to make up ground with four straight wins back in California. But the club would hit the woodwork three times against the Golden Bears in their 1-1 draw and were perhaps a little lucky themselves that things didn’t bounce against them, with Cal also hitting the frame of the goal a few times. The aforementioned Marlborough, Huerta, Johnston combo combined for nine shots on goal, and Santa Clara will truly fancy their chances at victory if they can repeat that feat on Sunday. The problem may be that the trio also each played every minute of that extra time draw with Cal, meaning they might be a bit heavy legged later in this one. SCU may be worrying about depth on the whole, as nine of their players in that Cal match played every minute, which could equal trouble against a Stanford side that was able to rotate bodies given their beating of Saint Mary’s (CA) on Thursday. It’ll also be up to the home side to show that they’ll be able to break the mental grip Stanford has had on them for ages. Jerry Smith and co. will not want to be reminded of last year’s fixture where they took the lead and then took a beating. SCU will likely be favored in every match after this one save the trip to Portland. A win here, and the Broncos might be in line for a high national seed if they can take care of business.
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