Monthly Archives: December 2014

USWNT – In Which Chris’ Conjures Up An Extended January Camp Roster

Well, the annual USWNT crisis of faith is upon us after the month’s wobbly displays in Brazil. There have been promises of a bigger camp roster for January to try out some more faces before the Spring’s European friendlies and Algarve Cup. Whether they’ll be new faces or the crop of thirty-somethings that have fallen out of favor is up for debate.

Here are the twenty-four I’d pick. I’m keeping this down to players who haven’t gotten recent invites into camps.

GK – Bianca Henninger (Houston), Aubrey Bledsoe (SBFC), Jane Campbell (Stanford)

Weep for the future, I suppose. Every first-string American keeper in NWSL save Kelsey Wys with WNY last year has at least gotten a look, so it’s not like there’s much to choose from. Henninger and Bledsoe figure to start this season, and it’s clearly go time if either want to get the call to the USWNT proper. Jane Campbell’s the best collegiate keeper out there and is probably the best GK prospect since AD Franch. She’s also the only college player on this roster.

DEF – Kassey Kallman (Boston), Leigh Ann Robinson (FCKC), Stephanie Ochs (Houston), Lauren Barnes (Seattle), Kendall Fletcher (Seattle), Elli Reed (Seattle), Gina Lewandowski (FC Bayern)

This isn’t rocket science. Take the defenders from last year’s top two NWSL teams -> Profit. Add in Ochs as an upside longshot after playing at full-back last season, and Lewandowski, who should finally get a look after starting for one of the Frauen Bundesliga’s top teams.
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NCAA – 2014 Awards Index

As a part of AWK’s postseason coverage, here’s an easily searchable index, by team, of postseason awards for each team. Only the highest level earned is listed for each player.

Key:

C# – All-Conference, C3 can also equal “Honorable Mention” status.
CR – All-Newcomer/Freshman Team
CT – All-Conference Tournament Team
CCT – All-College Cup Team

R# – NSCAA All-Region Team

AA# – NSCAA All-American Team

Major awards listed are from each respective conference unless otherwise noted.

Abilene Christian
-Alyssa Gerner (D) (C3)
-Baylee Mitchell (F) (C3)
-Leslie Snider (MF) (C3)
-Tiffany Ysassi (MF) (C3)

Air Force
-None

Akron
-Lani Smith (F) (C1)

Alabama
-Emily Rusk (GK) (R3)
-Laura Lee Smith (F) (R3)
-Merel van Dongen (MF) (C2)

Alabama A&M
-Estelle Esperance (F) (C2)
-Ana Huertas (MF) (C2)
-Margaret Sesay (co-Freshman of the Year)

Alabama State
-Alexandria Cannon (D) (C1)
-Aaliyah Lewis (F) (C1, CT, Offensive Player of the Year)
-Iita Pienimaki (D) (C2)
-Shelbi Vienna-Hallam (MF) (C2)

Albany
-Shelby Belak (D) (C2)
-Caitlyn Paltsios (MF) (C2, CT)
-Kiana Rugar (F) (CR)
-Alexa Schneider (MF) (C1)
-Vivian Vega (F) (C1, CR, CT, Rookie of The Year)

Alcorn State
-None

American
-None

Appalachian State
-None

Arizona
-Alexandra Doller (F) (C3)
-Gabi Stoian (F) (R3, CR)

Arizona State
-McKenzie Berryhill (D) (R1)
-Cali Farquharson (F) (R1)
-Aly Moon (MF) (C3, CR)

Arkansas
-None

Arkansas-Little Rock
-Fali Garuba (F) (C2)

Arkansas-Pine Bluff
-None

Arkansas State
-None

Army
-Katie Holder (F) (C1)
-Clare Shea (MF) (CR)

Auburn
-Kristen Dodson (CR)
-Kala Faulkner (D) (R2)
-Casie Ramsier (MF) (C2)

Austin Peay
-Giana Fabbro (F) (C2)
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NCAA – Third Time the Charm for Florida State

Three was the magic number.

Florida State finally reached the pinnacle of women’s college soccer in their third national title final, beating Virginia for the third time in 2014, by a score of 1-0 for the third time. For Virginia, it was three times unlucky, having now gone home empty-handed from the College Cup three times while ruing their third defeat to the Seminoles this season, coincidentally, the club that accounted for all three of Virginia’s losses this season. Virginia stuffed three into central midfield to try and slow Florida State down while nominally playing three up front, though it seemed at times that the Cavs were more 4-5-1 without the ball.

As has been mentioned judiciously in the wake of Sunday’s final, it was not one for the neutral. In this case, familiarity bred caution, with Virginia clogging the midfield to stymie Dagny Brynjarsdottir, and doing it effectively at that, with the Icelandic star having minimal impact in comparison to her past showings against UVA and just about everyone else. But the Cavs paid the price in attack, with Makenzy Doniak too isolated as the frontrunner spearheading the charge. It was telling that Virginia’s best chances flew wide and high of the goal. By the time the Cavs were prodded out of their shell, it was sadly too little, too late, down a goal and down to the wire in the second half.

In the end, Florida State did more than enough to separate itself from the field in 2014. The defeat to Florida early in the season looked less explainable by the day as the Noles ripped up the competition, completing a treble with the win over Virginia in Boca Raton, having pipped their rivals to both prongs of the ACC crown earlier in the year. The Noles pulled off the astonishing feat of shutting Virginia out three times when no other club could even hold UVA to just one goal. Making the Cavs and Morgan Brian look mortal three straight times may be one of the unheralded feats in the history of NCAA soccer when all is said and done.
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NCAA – College Cup Final Preview – Florida State vs Virginia

Probable Starting Lineups

Finality. It’s what Sunday will bring in Boca Raton as Florida State and Virginia finish out a trilogy for the biggest prize in college soccer. It’ll also be the final collegiate match for the likes of Morgan Brian, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, and Danielle Colaprico among others as each tries to go out with a win. Unlike many trilogies, this one isn’t coming into the third match on level pegging, as FSU has won both previous affairs this season, including winning the ACC Tournament against UVA, 1-0, the last time out. Common logic says it’s not easy to be a team three times, especially when there’s very little to pick from between the sides. Then again, it’s hard to doubt either of these sides given their NCAA Tournament form.

Goalkeeping

There’s little to pick from between the two starting goalkeepers in this final. Virginia’s Morgan Stearns has the advantage in experience and did fine against Texas A&M on Friday and should again be steady against the Noles on Sunday. Florida State’s Cassie Miller has been strong in net for a player with no collegiate experience coming into this season. Her distribution put her defense in trouble on occasion in the semi-final though, so FSU will be hoping for some improvement in that regard. Neither of these keepers is likely to be a goat, though neither seems especially likely to steal the match either.

The Battle In Midfield

As has been the case with Virginia’s last two matches, the battle in he middle of the park will feature multiple players likely to be high picks in the NWSL Draft this season (if they declare). Morgan Brian has been the name on everyone’s lips since the end of Women’s World Cup Qualifying, and she’ll want to sign off from the collegiate game with her school’s very first national title. Florida State have been a real thorn in her side thus far this season though, as Brian doesn’t have a single shot on goal or assist against the Noles in their two meetings thus far in 2014. Isabella Schmid and Michaela Hahn have done a masterful job of shielding the defense thus far in the NCAA Tournament and will probably be doing their utmost to keep Brian from having room to breathe when the ball is at her feet.

Virginia will have to find an answer to Dagny Brynjarsdottir if they’re to emerge victorious though. The Cavs have not managed the feat thus far in their prior two encounters this season, with Brynjarsdottir combining for five shots on goal and the only goal in the regular season meeting between the teams. Much of the defensive burden is going to fall on the shoulders of Danielle Colaprico, who faces a whale of a task in reeling in the burly Icelandic senior. There’s every possibility that UVA’s wide midfielders may pinch in to help double up on Brynjarsdottir. One thing’s for sure: if the Cavs can’t find a way to slow down Brynjarsdottir, they could be in for a rough day in Boca Raton.
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NCAA – College Cup Semi-Final Preview – Florida State vs Stanford

Projected Starting Lineups

Florida State does not have fond memories of Stanford in the College Cup. FSU has played the Card just twice in their history, both times in the NCAA Tournament and were swept aside both times with plaintive ease by the Pac-12 powerhouse. A smattering of players on each side were participants in these clubs’ last meeting in 2011, where Stanford eased past FSU en route to the national title. The Card will be clear underdogs going into Friday though, having shown some real signs of vulnerability on their run to the Final Four. They won a tense shootout with Florida after a 2-2 draw and will be hoping to grind out another win against the ACC double winners on Friday.

The Present and The Future

The matchup that most eyes will be focused upon on Friday in this matchup will be the clash between one of the nation’s best seniors and one of its best freshmen when Dagny Brynjarsdottir goes head-to-head with Andi Sullivan in the middle of the park. Brynjarsdottir has turned into a nigh-unstoppable force as a senior, devastating in the air and almost as proficient with the ball at her feet. Clearly, any gameplan from a team facing FSU has to start with neutralizing the Icelandic midfielder’s impact on the match.

Luckily for Stanford, they’ve got a great countermeasure in rookie Sullivan. Widely considered the top recruit in the country going into this season, Sullivan has more the lived up to the hype as a freshman. The Card have needed a calming presence in midfield for a few seasons now, and Sullivan has done more than enough to raise hopes that she could be one of the best ever to suit up in Palo Alto. Sullivan’s reputation has already been surging after her bravura freshman season, but leading the Card to the national title this weekend would surely set the hype machine on overdrive for the three remaining seasons she has with Stanford.

Sullivan will likely get some help defensively from central midfielder Alex Doll, but the onus is probably going to be on the rookie to be the solution to the problem Brynjarsdottir presents.
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NCAA – College Cup Semi-Final Preview – Virginia vs Texas A&M

Projected Starting Lineups

It might be all offense, all the time on Friday, as Virginia and Texas A&M threaten to break the scoreboard in Boca Raton with all the scoring potential on hand. Texas A&M finally broke their College Cup duck with a battling win over Penn State that saw Allie Bailey net a brace. Virginia upset the odds to beat UCLA in Westwood and ensure there would be no repeat national champion. The Cavs locked down UCLA’s wide attack and made the Bruins’ midfielders look shockingly average. They’ll be favored to win on Friday, but the Aggies aren’t about to go down without a hell of a fight.

Star Watch In The Middle

NWSL scouts will be focusing their eyes on the middle of the park in this one, as no fewer than three of the players in that zone could be top ten picks in the upcoming 2015 NWSL Draft. Add in Kelley Monogue, who might be a second half pick in the draft, and it’s going to be an offensive showdown to relish. Of course, the most eyes are going to be on likely first overall Morgan Brian, who is just two matches away from a coronation with a national title. Brian and Danielle Colaprico threw cold water on the notion that they’d be passed around in midfield against UCLA’s central triangle, dominating the matchup. The Cavs’ wide midfielders, Kaili Torres and Brittany Ratcliffe did an expectational job of putting the brakes on the Bruins’ wide game, making UCLA look as average as they’ve ever looked under the reign of Amanda Cromwell.

They face a challenge that’s different on Friday, though one that’s no less difficult. UCLA’s midfield had a little bit of everything, but Texas A&M will make no apologies for an attack, attack, attack mentality through the talents of Shea Groom and Monogue. The duo have ripped up opposing defenses this season, meaning Danielle Colaprico is going to have a whale of a defensive task on her shoulders when UVA’s out of possession. In that respect, Torres and Ratcliffe may be tasked with pinching into the middle of the park to help slow Groom and Monogue down considering A&M’s threat at full-back isn’t near UCLA’s.

It’s a two-way street defensively, though, as A&M, of course, has to figure out a way to stop Brian and Colaprico from rampaging forward. If Groom and Monogue both get sucked up the field at the same time, Brian and Colaprico could give Janae Cousineau severe problems. Cousineau’s not a bad player by any means, but she’s not in either Brian or Colaprico’s league and will surely need help in defense from Monogue and Groom to keep A&M form being overrun in the middle of the park. How A&M deals with the attack of Virginia on the wing also remains to be seen. Kaili Torres and Brittany Ratcliffe figure to have more room to roam offensively, meaning the Texas A&M full-backs will have to watch the wingers closely to prevent wide service to Virginia’s forwards.
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