Monthly Archives: July 2017

WPSL DC-Area End of Season: Not with a Bang

Braddock Road captain and U-23 national teamer Kaleigh Riehl should be one of their few longtime veterans back next season.

Braddock Road captain and U-23 national teamer Kaleigh Riehl should be one of their few longtime veterans back next season. (Photo by Larry J. Clark)

Last Saturday I turned off of Braddock Road onto Sideburn Road and approached the vicinity of the Robinson High School turf field that the Stars Elite play on. I was somewhat nonplussed to note the dearth of vehicles parked by the side of the road, though I quickly realized the game must have been cancelled for some reason. Sure enough, once I parked and came over, I found head coach Larry Best, operations manager Margie Madsen, the referees, and two ballgirls and their parents. But no players: the Legacy-W76 team out of Williamsburg had – according to Madsen – dithered since the previous evening over whether or not to make the trip with just eight or nine players and had even set off, but at Richmond turned around and went back home. Best said they’d have been willing to loan them some players and play for fun, but that offer was not accepted.

So I was deprived of one last opportunity to see the phenomenal young Aria Nagai – “the best 15-year-old in the country” according to Best – as well as longtime Braddock Road mainstays like Natalie Larkin and Rachel Moore, who will almost certainly find better things to do with their summers after graduation than play in the WPSL. Best expects Larkin to move into the real world while he sees Moore playing overseas somewhere. Meanwhile, star player and U-23 national teamer Kaleigh Riehl – a red-shirt sophomore at Penn State – should be around for another couple of years.

On top of that, a few days later I received a couple of messages from Washington Spirit Reserves assistant coach J.P. Sousa indicating that the Reserves would not be participating in the WPSL playoffs because they couldn’t be assured of having enough players for the championship round. That’s what happened last year: the Reserves participated in and won the East Conference, then found they wouldn’t be able to muster enough players, so the Boston Breakers Reserves went in their stead and ended up as WPSL champions, despite Washington beating them, 3-1, in the East final. They thought it was unfair to have that happen again, and I have to agree with them.
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The WoSo Independent Podcast – Episode #26 – USWNT Roster, EUROs, & A Little NWSL Controversy

On episode #26 of the WoSo Independent podcast, Chris (@chris_awk) and Jon (@jonlipsitz) catch up on two action packed weeks. They discuss the latest USWNT roster for the upcoming tournament involving Brazil, Japan, and Australia (1:51). Afterward, they talk about the first five days of UEFA Euro 2017 (19:53). What are their first impressions? Who do they ultimately see lifting the trophy? Finally, they spend the second half of the podcast talking about the past few weeks in the NWSL, including refereeing controversies and Sam Kerr’s explosive form (35:48).

NCAA – 2017 CoachRank – Lessons From The Recently Departed

Managers Departing After 2016

74.14 – Graham Winkworth – South Alabama
52.44 – Lang Wedemeyer – South Dakota State
45.41 – Mike Tucker – Dayton
43.54 – Margaret Saurin – Oakland
43.06 – Caitlin Cucchiella – Albany
40.69 – Brent Anderson – Utah Valley
36.75 – Jon Lipsitz – Kentucky
28.27 – Ada Greenwood – San Diego
27.57 – Katherine Lyn – Marist
26.32 – Jason Hamilton – Troy
25.10 – Laura Schott – Portland State
18.69 – Kevin Boyd – Arizona State
18.61 – Thomas Chestnutt – Florida International
17.33 – Mike Minielli – Wagner
12.27 – Don Klosterman – Nebraska-Omaha
11.57 – Joel Bancroft – UMass-Lowell
10.83 – Scott Grzenda – Delaware
10.57 – Frank Davies – Alabama A&M
8.37 – Michael Needham – Rhode Island
7.06 – T.O. Totty – Grambling
6.02 – Sonia Curvelo – Cleveland State
5.48 – Greg Ashton – Davidson
5.28 – Becky Hogan – Southern Utah
4.89 – Shanna Caldwell – Texas A&M-Corpus-Christi
4.58 – Amy Edwards – Gonzaga
4.16 – Fran Kulas – Villanova
3.91 – Lindsay Basalyga – Bowling Green
3.85 – Harold Warren – UAB
3.81 – Patrick Farmer – Cornell
2.73 – Woody Sherwood – Xavier
2.08 – Chris Pfau – Houston
1.85 – Matt Kellogg – North Dakota
1.84 – Aaron Gordon – Mississippi State
0.19 – Tony Tommasi – Chicago State

NR – Jamie Hutchison – Arkansas-Pine Bluff
NR – Samuel Nwaneri – Alcorn State
NR – Eric Golz – Illinois State
NR – Nate Norman – Liberty
NR – Scott McClellan – Long Island
NR – Chris Logan – Northern Iowa
NR – Matt Muia – Southeastern Louisiana*

* = Took over at mid-season

Changes Upon Changes

Simply put, it was a bloodbath this offseason, with a whopping forty-three changes in leadership, or just under thirteen percent of DI teams made a switch this offseason. Beleaguered Xavier even had to make two changes when their first hire Kacey White was plucked away by U.S. Soccer deep in the offseason. While there was a big wave of change this offseason, most of that change happened in mid-majors or second tier conferences like the WCC or Big East, with just three “Power Five” schools making a change. Whether these trends are a blip on the radar or a signal of decreasing patience remains to be seen, but it may cause some to look over their shoulder a little more heading into 2017.

Arizona State Goes Big

Had Graham Winkworth stayed at South Alabama, he would have ranked #7 in this year’s CoachRank, ahead of some very big names in the DI coaching ranks. But it was pretty clear that he had taken the Jags as far as they could probably go in the current landscape of women’s college soccer. The former USA boss was always likely to be linked with most major jobs that came open in the offseason, but the move to Arizona State to try and breathe life into a stale Sun Devils program is certainly an intriguing one. Winkworth will be working with a lot more in terms of resources but also with much greater expectation at a much higher level for a program that probably expects to be a consistent NCAA Tournament participant. Winkworth brought All-American full-back Jemma Purfield with him to Tempe, but he’ll also know that a glittering record at lower levels doesn’t automatically equal success, as former Illinois State and current Purdue boss Drew Roff can attest to.
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NCAA – 2017 CoachRank Adjusted Rankings – Trendwatch

The totals for CoachRank only tell part of the story. You can get a clearer view of the big picture by examining some of the trends associated with the individual season scores that are averaged together to get the total CoachRank score.

The following are some of those trends, sorted by conference. Note that only programs with coaches in place for at least three seasons are included in this.

Also, keep in mind the context for some of the schools listed here. Yes, Florida State is listed in the “Going Down” section, but that’s primarily due to having an unbelievable 2014 season that would be almost impossible to replicate. The same goes for some schools like Texas A&M and Virginia, who have strong odds of heading back up again for 2017 and beyond.

“Going Up” = Teams whose Season Scores have gone up in successive years between 2014-2016.
“Going Down” = Teams whose Season Scores have gone down in successive years between 2014-2016.

AAC

Going Up
Going Down – East Carolina, South Florida, Tulsa, UCF

ACC

Going Up –
Going Down – Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

America East

Going Up –
Going Down – New Hampshire, UMBC

Atlantic 10

Going Up – Saint Joseph’s
Going Down – La Salle, UMass, VCU

Atlantic Sun

Going Up – Stetson
Going Down – North Florida

Big 12

Going Up – TCU
Going Down – Texas

Big Sky

Going Up – Eastern Washington, Sacramento State
Going Down – Montana

Big South

Going Up – Longwood
Going Down – UNC Asheville, Winthrop

Big Ten

Going Up – Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
Going Down – Iowa
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NCAA – 2017 CoachRank by Conference + Value Above/Below Peers

This may be more useful for comparisons instead of the overall list. Additional material at the end of the post.

AAC

26 (+39). 51.00 – Len Tsantiris – UConn
28 (-14). 50.83 – Tiffany Roberts-Sahaydak – UCF
45 (+14). 43.26 – Denise Schilte-Brown – South Florida
102 (-3). 28.82 – Neil Stafford – Cincinnati
113 (-30). 27.22 – Brooks Monaghan – Memphis
157 (-10). 18.97 – Kyle Cussen – Tulsa
158 (+37). 18.49 – Chris Petrucelli – SMU
164 (-19). 17.15 – Rob Donnenwirth – East Carolina
228 (-17). 4.05 – Seamus O’Connor – Temple

ACC

1 (-). 94.58 – Mark Krikorian – Florida State
3 (-). 80.77 – Steve Swanson – Virginia
8 (+4). 72.01 – Anson Dorrance – North Carolina
17 (NR). 60.07 – Theresa Romagnolo – Notre Dame
37 (-15). 47.15 – Robbie Church – Duke
38 (-15). 46.93 – Chugger Adair – Virginia Tech
63 (+56). 37.69 – Eddie Radwanski – Clemson
112 (-52). 27.24 – Alison Foley – Boston College
133 (-76). 23.31 – Tony da Luz – Wake Forest
150 (-62). 20.13 – Karen Ferguson-Dayes – Louisville
197 (+15). 10.67 – Mary-Frances Monroe – Miami (FL)
200 (-35). 10.34 – Phil Wheddon – Syracuse
205 (+26). 8.74 – Tim Santoro – NC State
231 (-11). 3.68 – Greg Miller – Pittsburgh

America East

51 (+3). 41.40 – John Natale – Hartford
77 (NR). 34.26 – Steve Welham – New Hampshire
131 (-29). 24.03 – Leslie Wray – UMBC
160 (-6). 18.33 – Scott Atherley – Maine
186 (-3). 13.06 – Kristi Lefebvre – Vermont

Atlantic 10

32 (-16). 49.31 – Paul Royal – La Salle
114 (+38). 27.02 – Jess Mannella – Saint Joseph’s
132 (NR). 23.47 – Jessica Clinton – Fordham
139 (-). 22.04 – Sarah Barnes – George Washington
145 (-2). 21.36 – Al Alvine – Duquesne
156 (-29). 19.03 – Lindsey Martin – VCU
165 (+13). 16.98 – Katie Shields – Saint Louis
199 (-23). 10.35 – Steve Brdarski – Saint Bonaventure
209 (-40). 7.55 – Ed Matz – UMass
211 (-32). 6.97 – Peter Albright – Richmond

Atlantic Sun

9 (-). 71.03 – Jim Blankenship – Florida Gulf Coast
82 (-27). 32.73 – Brian Copham – Jacksonville
127 (+7). 24.74 – Kevin O’Brien – Lipscomb
175 (-24). 15.10 – Manoj Khettry – Stetson
T214 (NR). 6.08 – Robin Confer – North Florida

Big 12

4 (+4). 75.87 – Nikki Izzo-Brown – West Virginia
31 (+5). 49.66 – Tom Stone – Texas Tech
81 (-11). 33.05 – Paul Jobson – Baylor
108 (-32). 27.72 – Angela Kelly – Texas
123 (+21). 25.12 – Mark Francis – Kansas
124 (+34). 25.03 – Matt Potter – Oklahoma
135 (-49). 22.93 – Colin Carmichael – Oklahoma State
185 (+20). 13.09 – Eric Bell – TCU
233 (NR). 3.20 – Tony Minatta – Iowa State
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Early July twists and turns in WPSL’s Colonial Division

Braddock Road's Aria Nagai - "the best 15-year-old in the country" according to her coach.

Braddock Road’s Aria Nagai – “the best 15-year-old in the country” according to her coach.

(All game photographs courtesy of Larry J. Clark)

The big match of the weekend looked to be the July 7 match with the Richmond Strikers versus the Washington Spirit Reserves, big enough that I decided to drive down for it – on a Friday afternoon, no less. Both teams were vying for first place in the Colonial Division and the sole playoff spot that went with it. For the Reserves, it was close to a must-win as they’d already dropped points in two matches while the Strikers had only dropped points in one.

While I was driving down, meanwhile, the resurgent Braddock Road Stars Elite were taking on Virginia Beach City. Out of goalkeepers, they drafted defensive midfielder Rachel Moore to play in the net. “Rachel was brilliant in goal,” said head coach Larry Best. “Rachel saved a PK. And nobody knew that she wasn’t a goalie, 5’10”, 5’11”, and she’s a good athlete. And she catches. She played basketball, so she’s got good hands. It was against Virginia Beach, and they didn’t realize until the last five minutes of the game that she wasn’t a real goalie. Because the kids were laughing every time she’d get the ball.”

Braddock Road would pull out a 2-1 win despite giving up the first goal, making it a three-game undefeated streak – starting with the 2-2 draw with Washington – after losing their first five matches of the season.

But on to the Richmond match. Both teams were short-handed this time, Washington again without Douglas, Germino-Watnick, and Schnurr while the Strikers’ U-17 national teamer, Jordan Canniff, was also away.
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NCAA – CoachRank 2017 – Full Adjusted Rankings – FSU’s Krikorian #1 for Third Straight Season as Top Three Remain Unchanged

Questions? Complaints? Again, read the FAQ.

Number in parentheses is the gain/decline in position ranking as compared to last year. Those without parentheses either did not change position or entered into the rankings this year having just completed three seasons with their current club.

Overall

1 (-). 94.58 – Mark Krikorian – Florida State
2 (-). 82.69 – Paul Ratcliffe – Stanford
3 (-). 80.77 – Steve Swanson – Virginia
4 (+4). 75.87 – Nikki Izzo-Brown – West Virginia
5 (+2). 75.40 – Becky Burleigh – Florida
6 (+7). 74.92 – Jennifer Rockwood – BYU
7 (-3). 73.67 – Erica Dambach – Penn State
8 (+4). 72.01 – Anson Dorrance – North Carolina
9 (-). 71.03 – Jim Blankenship – Florida Gulf Coast
10 (NR). 70.40 – Keidane McAlpine – USC

11 (-6). 67.80 – G. Guerrieri – Texas A&M
12 (-2). 67.76 – Amanda Cromwell – UCLA
13 (-2). 66.48 – Nancy Feldman – Boston University
14 (+1). 64.38 – Mike Friesen – San Diego State
15 (+5). 62.64 – Dave Nolan – Georgetown
16 (NR). 61.75 – Mike O’Neill – Rutgers
17 (NR). 60.07 – Theresa Romagnolo – Notre Dame
18 (+1). 59.02 – Julie Woodward – Seattle
19 (-2). 57.48 – Markus Roeders – Marquette
20 (-2). 56.26 – Jerry Smith – Santa Clara

21 (-). 54.83 – John Hedlund – North Texas
22 (+23). 53.33 – Krissy Turner – Monmouth
23 (+6). 53.15 – Demian Brown – Cal State Fullerton
24 (+9). 52.15 – Brent Leiba – Howard
25 (+7). 51.72 – Shelley Smith – South Carolina
26 (+39). 51.00 – Len Tsantiris – UConn
27 (-3). 50.84 – Andrew Burr – Furman
28 (-14). 50.83 – Tiffany Roberts-Sahaydak – UCF
29 (+5). 50.11 – Karen Hoppa – Auburn
30 (NR). 49.77 – Eric Teepe – Fairleigh Dickinson

31 (+5). 49.66 – Tom Stone – Texas Tech
32 (-16). 49.31 – Paul Royal – La Salle
33 (NR). 49.07 – Jeremy Groves – Murray State
34 (-8). 48.33 – Jeff Hooker – Denver
35 (+13). 48.33 – Brenda van Stralen – Saint Francis (PA)
36 (+20). 47.22 – Greg Ryan – Michigan
37 (-15). 47.15 – Robbie Church – Duke
38 (-15). 46.93 – Chugger Adair – Virginia Tech
39 (-1). 45.86 – Neil McGuire – Cal
40 (-1). 45.81 – Todd Yelton – Samford

41 (-11). 45.19 – Casey Wilson – Abilene Christian
42 (-5). 45.00 – Wally Crittenden – Stephen F. Austin
43 (+6). 44.04 – Marty Beall – High Point
44 (+3). 43.90 – Tim Ward – Pepperdine
45 (+14). 43.26 – Denise Schilte-Brown – South Florida
46 (+47). 43.22 – Jodie Smith – Alabama State
47 (+25). 42.98 – Stefanie Golan – Minnesota
48 (-6). 42.81 – Tony Economopoulos – Mercer
49 (+26). 42.22 – Erin Chastain – DePaul
50 (-7). 41.85 – Mauricio Ingrassia – Long Beach State
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The WoSo Independent Podcast – Episode #25 – The NWSL Mid-Season Report

In episode #25 of the WoSo Independent Podcast, Chris (@chris_awk) & Jon (@jonlipsitz) try and catch up with a very busy few weeks in the NWSL. They look back on their preseason projections and talk about what they got right and what they got very, very wrong (Sorry, Megan Rapinoe). They also discuss where they think each of the ten clubs is going in the second half of the season.

Additionally, they discuss Rachel Breton’s explosive article on the NWSL’s concussion protocol (35:57).

Short-handed Spirit Reserves draw 1-1 with Richmond Strikers

A Washington Spirit Reserves team missing Gloria Douglas, Paula Germino-Watnick, and Kristin Schnurr gave up a goal in the closing seconds of second-half stoppage time to settle for a draw with their opponents, this time the Richmond Strikers. That’s the second time that’s happened this season. The Strikers, meanwhile, had as their star player U-17 WNTer Jordan Canniff, fresh off training with the professional Spirit team last Wednesday.
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Spirit fall, 1-0, on the road against the Breakers

Head coach Jim Gabarra looks on as the Washington Spirit play at the Boston Breakers.

Head coach Jim Gabarra looks on as the Washington Spirit play at the Boston Breakers.

One of the appeals of soccer for me is the feeling that every moment counts, that a single lapse in play at any moment could cost you the match, or a little extra effort could win it. Other sports like (American) football or baseball have more of an ebb and flow – a goal-line stand or a three-two pitch – where some moments clearly matter than others, which has a different sort of appeal.

The critical moment in this match came at the 71:10 mark. Spirit rookie Meggie Dougherty Howard is bringing the ball forward at midfield and tries to send it on to fellow rookie Mallory Pugh. But she doesn’t get much on the ball, and Breakers defender Brooke Elby makes a quick dash forward to intercept it. She charges down the right, then centers for Rosie White, who takes a shot that goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé has to leap to save.

On the ensuing corner kick, Rosie White sends it short to former Washington Spirit Reserve Midge Purce. The Spirit have done an execrable job of setting up to defend the short corner with no one out to mark Purce or White. Francisca Ordega – probably fairly low on the list of players Gabarra would pick to defend a quick, dangerous forward like Purce – rushes out to challenge, but Purce easily dodges around her to get off a hard, low shot that somehow makes it past Labbé for her first professional goal.
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