1. Florida State
3. Texas A&M
Eliminated in Elite Eight
It really wasn’t supposed to end this way for the Bruins. Certainly not before the College Cup. Who knows if it would’ve hurt more or less if it had been against a lesser opponent or as the result of some kind of fluke. There was none of that here, as the defending national champs were simply beaten by the better team on the night. With the third season always the most important for new managers, it’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins respond to Friday’s shattering defeat. There’s no shortage of promising talent in Westwood, but the back four and midfield needs to be rebuilt, almost from scratch.
6. Penn State
A post here, a save there, near misses everywhere. The Nittany Lions could’ve very easily made it to the College Cup if a few breaks had gone their way, though they could also have no complaints of being hard done by against a strong Texas A&M side. PSU loses some strong defenders in Whitney Church and Kori Chapic but are otherwise loaded going into 2015. The defense adds in some elite recruits and should get Brittany Basinger back from injury after the full-back missed all of this season. With just a little more offensive punch, the Nittany Lions may well be a contender for a national title next season.
The scourge of penalties strikes again. Florida and Stanford played reasonably close for the second half and in extra time after the Gators struggled in the first half against the Card. UF are going to be kicking themselves for not getting to the last four at long last though, having been so close with such a talented team. There’s still a lot of talent here for 2015, but the loss of Havana Solaun is going to probably loom larger than some might believe. The playmaker was Florida’s most important player, IMO. There are also questions to answer in goal, meaning a return to the Elite Eight could be more difficult than anticipated.
8. South Carolina
There’s no shame in losing to Florida State, even by multiple goals. But the defeat to the Seminoles also illuminated the gap between the good and the great in Division I. It’s astonishing that the Gamecocks made the Elite Eight scoring just one goal, but SC is always going to have a chance considering how well drilled the defense always is. But that defense still has to replace Taylor Leach at center-back and Sabrina D’Angelo in goal, which is a big blow. Without some more punch in the attack as well, it’s difficult envisioning Carolina getting back to this point.