NCAA Soccer – MatchDay Not-So-Live for 08/26/11 – The Empire Strikes Back

Victorious UNC

North Carolina Were Jumping for Joy At Rainy Fetzer Field After Courtney Jones' Extra Time Winner

North Carolina 2 (Premji 20′, Jones 96′) – 1 (Hall 71′) Notre Dame [aet]

A resolute North Carolina side got seven big saves from goalkeeper Hannah Daly and a clutch extra time goal from senior Courtney Jones to take a 2-1 win in the latest clash with eternal rivals Notre Dame in front of a big house in rainy Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels got out to a quick start with Ranee Premji scoring her second goal in as many games in 2011 in the twentieth minute to take a 1-0 lead into the half. The Heels were kept on their…err…heels for much of the first half with Daly making six saves to keep her side in front headed into the break. After a second half that was much more even on the stat sheet, the Heels would grab the priceless golden goal through Jones in the first half of extra time to seal the victory. The match marked the return of Meg Morris to the lineup, and the sophomore played sixty-eight minutes in the win. UNC used a deeper bench than usual in big matches with seven subs seeing time, though none recorded a shot. Despite not recording a shot, UNC coach called Crystal Dunn the team’s best player on the night, showing that she can still make a big impact even if she’s not putting together any shots. The final note of interest on the Carolina Blue side was the Heels’ apparent shift to 3-5-2 in the middle of the game after the hosts were being overrun in midfield. It’ll be intriguing to see if that was just a one off or perhaps a permanent second option for UNC in more difficult fixtures down the line.

One of the big talking points for the visitors will be the switch from Maddie Fox to Sarah Voigt in goal for this match. Voigt’s highly touted but also still a freshman and perhaps could have done better in getting beaten at the near post for Jones’ extra time goal. It’s going to be an interesting battle all year between Voigt and Fox in between the pipes, and Waldrum will be desperate to find some consistency no matter the starting keeper. Melissa Henderson was, for the most part, bottled up by the North Carolina defense and by Carolina freshman Satara Murray in particular. It’s a very rare occasion when you see Henderson just get one shot in a match and at the very least proved that she’s human after all. Something to note is just how short the Notre Dame bench was in this one. Irish Head Coach Randy Waldrum made mention of the team not being very healthy at the moment in his post-match interview and it showed, with just three subs being used the entire match. That could be a big factor come Sunday afternoon with a tricky match against a very good Duke team to close out the weekend.

Alabama 0 – 1 (Oduro 65′) Memphis

You aren’t going to win if you aren’t putting the ball on frame, something Alabama found out the hard way last night. The Tide were only outshot 14-11 overall but only managed to put a single shot on frame through the whole match. Todd Bramble’s side also lost the corner kick battle by a 6-1 margin on the evening. Tellingly, Laura Lee Smith, who had been Bama’s go-to attacker in the opening few fixtures of the season, put up goose eggs on the scoreboard, an Alabama’s attack fizzled as a result. Dutch forward Pia Rijsdijk, also impressive early in the season, also had a bit of a down game with just two shots on the night. It doesn’t get easier on Sunday with a tough New Mexico team coming to town with their fierce defense in tow. Alabama really needs a win before a road trip to San Diego next week.

Another professional job by Memphis, this time on the road in a tough environment. Remember the name Christabel Oduro, the Canadian has every possibility of becoming one of Conference USA’s best attacking players by the time she graduates. The Tigers also got strong efforts out of veteran Melissa Smith and redshirt freshman Kelley Gravlin on the night. This Memphis team is very deep, and being able to bring players like Rasheeda Ansari and Taylor Isenhower off the bench bodes very well for the future. Realistically, Memphis should win their next two matches before a chance to win their third match against SEC opposition in a few weeks at home against Ole Miss.

Boston College 1 (McCaffrey 4′) – 0 Rutgers

Hmmm. Is Boston College turning into this year’s Wisconsin? Unlike the Badgers from last year though, BC actually has multiple outlets of offense, meaning winning a lot of games 1-0 at the moment is a little disconcerting. Most disturbing is the fact that forward talisman Victoria DiMartino was held to just one off-target shot on the night, not a recipe for success in the future against tougher challenges for the Eagles. The good news of course is that the defense buckled down and shackled some of Rutgers’ most dangerous threats and maintained another clean sheet, critical in these early weeks while the offense tries to sort themselves out. At least Kristen Mewis was still pulling the strings effectively and served up the assist on the game winner to Stephanie McCaffrey. This was likely BC’s last big non-conference test, and they should cruise into ACC play undefeated.

For their part, Rutgers also struggled to put together chances through their star, Jonelle Filigno. The Canadian international was limited to just one shot on goal and one shot overall as the Scarlet Knights’ offense sputtered. Karla Schacher did manage four shots but didn’t actual manage to put any of them on frame. The normally expansive Big East conference slate along with hurricane forced cancellations means that these Scarlet Knights only have so many chances to boost their profile before league play. The loss to BC raises the pressure, with next week’s game against Loyola Marymount looking like a key one for the team’s season.

Florida 3 (Tymrak 25′, Travis 39′, Barney 90′) – 2 (Kunz 30′, Monogue 36′) Texas A&M

You’ve gotta give credit where credit’s due, Florida, in typical Gator fashion, just found a way to win. After a first half that seemed fairly even and was wildly entertaining from the look of things, the Aggies started to pepper the goal and force Brooke Chancey into saves in the UF net. It’s been stated before, but it really says something about Florida’s depth when they’re able to bring players like Lindsay Thompson and Taylor Travis off the bench as they did on this night. McKenzie Barney’s been a little quiet thus far this year, but despite just playing thirty-four minutes on this night, came through in the clutch with the winner just fifteen seconds from time. Erika Tymrak also again showed why she’s one of the nation’s best with Florida’s opener in the first half. This was a great win, and Florida will likely shoot up the rankings if they can cap the weekend off with a victory over UCLA on Sunday.

More frustration for the Big XII champs. The Aggies began to put the heat on the Gators in the second half but just couldn’t find that third goal that would’ve given them the lead once more after Florida equalized before the half to make the score 2-2. While A&M did outshoot Florida, 21-12, they were even with the Gators on shots on goal, 7-7. Particularly guilty of some wayward shooting was Merritt Mathias who, again, failed to score against top opposition, though she did assist on Annie Kunz’s opener. Mathias got eight shots off but only put one on goal. There are some encouraging signs for the Aggies, especially offensively where the team is still scoring goals with frequency despite their youth. Of course, by that same token, A&M is also leaking goals at a somewhat alarming rate, something that definitely needs to get sorted out soon. They’ll be desperate for a win against Tennessee on Sunday to avoid being plunged into a 1-3 hole on the young season.

Florida State 1 (Kallman 10′) – 0 New Mexico

FSU fans might be wringing their hands right about now about their team’s continued struggles to put the ball in the back of the net, but it’s not like they’ve been facing ramshackle backlines thus far in the season. New Mexico could have one of the country’s better defenses at the end of the season, so this scoreline shouldn’t worry Noles fans too much. Some of the FSU lineup changes were pretty interesting though with Price and Bakowska-Mathews coming in for Katie Riley and Jamia Fields. Florida State coach Mark Krikorian’s use of Fields is going to be highly interesting throughout the season after the freshman looked electric against Portland at times last weekend. Defensively, FSU did a pretty good job of shutting down New Mexico’s skilled striker Jennifer Williams, limiting the forward to just one shot on the evening. There’s what should be an easy game against North Florida on Sunday before another big challenge against Marquette next week.

New Mexico are probably not going to be happy with the result, but they played a very good FSU team pretty close on the road. Most impressive was keeping Price, Fields, and McCarty in check, with none of the Noles’ golden trio putting a shot on goal all match. The Lobos have three very winnable games on the road before a potentially big weekend in the Pacific Northwest. If they want at-large bid consideration, they’ve gotta take care of business against Alabama on Sunday afternoon.

Georgia 0 – 3 (Knaack 6′, Zarnegar 30′, Doniak 85′) Texas

Big, big win for Texas on the road against a potential bubble rival come NCAA Tournament selection time. This is really one where the stats may have looked even on paper but where the Horns were deserved winners, even if the final 3-0 scoreline flattered them a little. Texas were almost universally quicker all over the pitch and exposed their opponents up the flanks though they needed three goals on set pieces to punch the ball in the back of the net. In particular, though she didn’t log any significant stats, Vanessa Ibewuike was an absolute terror from off the bench, using her pace and slick moves to get half of Georgia’s backline booked. Alexa Gaul didn’t have to make too many great stops, but she did make the save of the game with a blinding reaction save on a header from a corner kick. Now it’s just a matter of consistency for the Horns who have three winnable games at home before a road trip out west to Los Angeles.

Different year, same Georgia? A club who showed a very blunt edge in front of goal against tough opposition last year looked no better last night in creating only a few clear cut chances in the team’s worst home loss since 2002. The set piece defending obviously has to get better, but there was precious little to speak of in the final third for the home team. Particularly worrying was mercurial forward Susannah Dennis pulling a disappearing act and not accounting for even one shot on the evening. If Dennis isn’t producing, there’s far too much placed on the shoulders of Alexa Newfield, and the Georgia offense suffers greatly as a result. The Bulldogs made the interesting move of putting defender Torri Allen up front, and it helped to a certain extent but at the cost of greatly destabilizing the defense. With a rather blah non-conference schedule, Georgia really needs a win over Villanova on Sunday and maybe against Minnesota too next Friday to avoid a hefty task come SEC play.

Maryland 0 – 0 Stanford

A tale of two halves and no goals as two of the nation’s top offenses somehow combined for a scoreless draw in a huge non-conference clash. Stanford were able to welcome back sophomore keeper Emily Oliver but are now tasked with coping with injuries to Rachel Quon and Mariah Nogueira, in addition to being without Courtney Verloo. It should be noted that Paul Ratcliffe played nine of his starters the entire one hundred ten minutes, which could be a worry on Sunday against a deep Georgetown team. The Card looked to have bossed the entire first half but couldn’t make the important breakthrough before the break. Their opponents came into it more in the second stanza, though Stanford still had their chances. Needless to say, it’s going to be very, very interesting on Sunday if the team is without defensive stopper Nogueira prowling around in midfield with Georgetown’s Ingrid Wells apt to cause havoc in the attacking end if she isn’t contained.

The Terps also dealt a heavy dose of minutes to their starters, though the team’s glowing depth on the frontline allowed them to rotate in the likes of Kristen Schmidbauer, Sade Ayinde, and Hayley Brock, though the Maryland bench players only combined for one shot on goal. Though Stanford managed to keep Ashley Grove in check, Jasmyne Spencer and Olivia Wagner still combined for eleven shots and four on goal, three of those belonging to Wagner, who’s had a quick start to the new season. Still, Maryland might be a little concerned about just how flat they came out, as they were blitzed in the first half and were very lucky to go into the half 0-0. Yewande Balogun came up big for the home side though with eleven saves, and Maryland were generally much better after the break. Getting something out of this match was critical with such a soft non-conference schedule remaining. Realistically, the Terps should still be undefeated when they travel to Virginia for the league opener in mid-September.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee 3 (Hagen 16′, PK 37′, Thompson 80′) – 2 (Link 4′, Wilson 71′) Long Beach State

Sarah Hagen comes off a rare pointless day for the Panthers to score goals three and four of the season and help pace Milwaukee to their third win of the season. Hagen continues to be a monster on the pitch with nine of her side’s eighteen shots, putting five on frame and two in the back of the goal. Her supporting cast did very well for themselves also, especially Keara Thompson, who hit the winner in the eightieth minute for the Panthers. Milwaukee went to a pretty short bench for this one, as did their opponents, with both teams only opting for three subs. The Panthers did well to overcome some adversity as well, coming back from conceding in the fourth minute and then giving up the equalizer in the second half after going into the break up 2-1. Milwaukee has two more winnable games on the docket before a nice test at Minnesota next Sunday.

Frustration for sure for Long Beach State who had it tied up in the second half despite Sarah Hagen getting a pair of goals. Nadia Link was very impressive for the visitors with a goal and an assist and could’ve made it 2-0 early on after dragging a shot just wide of the post. The Beach did see Shawna Gordon, their midfield talisman, silenced a bit with only one off target shot, though Gordon did end up assisting Link’s opener. This would’ve been a huge win in the at-large discussion for Long Beach, but they can’t hang their heads with another massive match on Sunday against Marquette. If Long Beach can get anything out of that, they should be in fairly good shape as they return home for a three match homestand.

Missouri 1 (Richardson 51′) – 0 Ohio State

Missouri keeps a clean sheet! Missouri keeps a clean sheet! And what a great time to pitch that shutout as well as Missouri picks up a massive win over Ohio State at home. The Tigers kicked lumps out of Ohio State if the stat sheet is to be believed (twenty-two fouls!), but the physical treatment worked, as they pretty much shut down OSU’s sometimes explosive offense. Paige Maxwell only had a single shot on goal, and when she’s not more involved, the Buckeyes usually aren’t winning. Mizzou held fast though and got the early second half winner from Dominique Richardson, one of the league’s fast risers and a great player to watch for in the near future. For a club desperate to get back to the NCAA Tournament, this win’s going to be worth its weight in gold down the line. There just can’t be any type of letdown on Sunday against Purdue at home.

A decided setback in a tough match for the Buckeyes who just couldn’t cope with Missouri’s physicality in the end. This was a match which really exposed why its hard to take OSU seriously as a member of the national elite as their streaky offense fired blanks against a Tiger team that, on paper, should have been ripe for the picking defensively. OSU can’t hang their heads though with a potentially tricky Wright State team on Sunday before two huge matchups against West Virginia in mid-week and North Carolina next weekend. While the Buckeyes’ defense has looked stout, the offense has been underwhelming in two of three thus far, worrying signs with tougher opponents on the horizon.

Oklahoma State 1 (Brown 79′) – 0 Oklahoma

Another close edition of the Bedlam Series results in another close win for the home side who have now not lost to the rival Sooners in nine matches. The Cowgirls haven’t really proven to be a high scoring side for much of this early season but have at the same time done a fantastic job in locking opponents down. The Cowgirls kept Caitlin Mooney, Zoe Dickson, and Michelle Alexander all without a shot, and the Sooners’ bench actually had more total shots than the starters did. Offensively, Krista Lopez hasn’t really gotten going, though she did get four shots off in this one. Senior Sarah Brown picked a pretty good time for her first goal since 2008 and sent the Cowgirls to a good win that will likely do their RPI good as well come the end of the season. This was really OSU’s last significant non-conference test until a trip to Los Angeles in a few weeks, so they’ll have a great chance of being 7-0-0 when they play USC on September 9.

As stated above, Oklahoma’s offense sputtered, with their big offensive threats being shut down completely and no Sooner logging more than a single shot on goal with OU only getting three shots on goal period. The Sooners are probably tearing their hair out at this point over their inability to beat their state rivals despite playing them very close in recent seasons. Despite holding OSU to just one goal, Oklahoma’s defense only just kept their rivals’ offense at bay for much of the match and could really have no complaints at the end of the night. Of course, the unusual home-and-home nature of this season means Oklahoma will get another chance against the Cowgirls later in the year and will surely fancy their chances at picking up a win in Norman. For now though, this is a team that really needs some wins to get back over .500. Luckily, they’ve got three great opportunities for victories at home in the next few weeks.

Penn State 5 (Evans 2′, Rosenbluth 5′, Hayes 8′, 67′, Schram 65′) – 0 West Virginia

Wow. Now that’s a statement from Penn State. The Nittany Lions needed a win like this to show the nation that they weren’t just a bunch of flat track bullies and more than obliged in this demolition job against West Virginia. The ease with which PSU was up 3-0 after just eight minutes was frightening, especially when you consider this group is still missing arguably their top gun in Tani Costa. But on this night, Maya Hayes was a great frontrunner, while Taylor Schram had a great coming out party with a goal and a hatful of assists. The pair of assists from Christine Nairn was a promising sign as well. In total, this Nittany Lion team has become notorious for running hot and cold, but Penn State was blazing hot on Friday night and just need to bottle that up for the rest of the season. Despite giving up fourteen shots, they still kept a clean sheet and will surely fancy their chances in their next three matches before a big weekend against UCF and Virginia.

While West Virginia have been slow starters at times in past seasons, there are some serious questions beginning to be raised about this Mountaineers squad. WVU were like deer in the headlights for the first ten minutes, and there was simply no coming back from a 3-0 deficit on the road. Blake Miller was still involved, with five shots, but Bri Rodriguez and the other WVU threats were all too silent for the visitors to keep up on Friday. The defense, normally so stout, is leaking goals against quality sides, a big worry playing in the Big East against so much firepower residing in the conference. There’s a winnable match against George Mason on Sunday before a potentially key match against Ohio State that could be big for seeding purposes in November for both teams. Of course, if WVU keeps leaking goals like this, a national seed could be the least of Nikki Izzo-Brown’s side’s worries.

San Diego State 2 (Keane 29′, Locker 84′) – 1 (Roberts 45′) Minnesota

San Diego State gets a priceless win as they prep for Mountain West play by gaining another big win in their pursuit for an at-large bid if necessary. The Aztecs have to be pleased with the win at home against a solid Big Ten side, especially after a bit of a struggle in the first half. There were not doubts over who the better side was in the second half though despite SDSU getting sucker punched with the equalizer right before the break. The Aztecs did a fairly good job of taking control of the game in the second half and did well to keep Taylor Uhl in check after she had scored a hat trick the week before. There has to be a sigh of relief from SDSU as well at being able to score a pair of goals not involving Cat Walker. A varied attack is going to be key for this team, even though Walker was still heavily involved on this day with five shots. Special tip of the cap to the SDSU bench as well who racked up eight shots (as compared to just one from the Minnesota subs).

Not a result Minnesota will want to dwell on. These are the type of games that the Gophers really need to get something from if they want to look good in the at-large pool in November. This squad really needs someone to step up into the lead gun role up front, and that didn’t really happen on this evening. People often forget that this team lost a lot of talent between seasons and could be a work in progress even entering into league play. Despite that, Head Coach Mikki Denney Wright was not in a conciliatory mood, calling the performance “one of the worst games I have seen our team play in the past few year”. UC Santa Barbara on Sunday is now a must win, while next weekend looms large with two potential bubble rivals coming to Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in the form of Georgia and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

San Jose State 1 (Ruder 78′) – 2 (Ledezma 52′, Hardeman 101′) UC Irvine [aet]

Irvine dodges a big bullet as they dominated play for the majority of the match but found that suspect finishing and an inspired performance by SJSU keeper Meghan Maiwald made for a tougher day than they might have expected. Irvine kept their composure in the extra frames though and finally found the right solution through Amanda Hardeman at the beginning of the second half of extra time. It’s already looking like coach Scott Juniper might have a chance at having the country’s top transfer two seasons running with Natalia Ledezma already looking like a fine addition with yet another game and six shots for the victors. It was really a total team effort for the Anteaters with a whopping nine of their starting lineup having shots on the evening and eight players in total putting a shot on frame. UCI should win their next two handily, setting up a massive clash in Palo Alto against Santa Clara before an even bigger match against Stanford a few days later.

Tough break for San Jose State who held tough despite being outplayed for much of the match. This was their last chance to really boost their RPI though, and they’ll likely have to win the WAC Tournament to get to the Big Dance.

Tennessee 1 (Hatcher 63′) – 2 (Bywaters 81′, Leroux 85′) UCLA

Another test passed for UCLA, and this time, it was the way they did it instead of the actual result that should resonate loudest around college soccer circles. The Bruins faced adversity from a big crowd on the road, an uneven first half, and going into the final ten minutes down 1-0. And they emerged ten minutes later with a 2-1 win and a whole lot more respect from the college soccer punditry. For all the talk of the kids ruling the roost in Westwood, it was a couple of of the team’s old hands that led the team back with speedster Zakiya Bywaters equalizing before Sydney Leroux brought the Bruins all the way back, putting back Sam Mewis’ initial saved shot. After a relatively even first half, UCLA jumped all over the Lady Vols in the second half, outshooting them 14-3, though it was much closer in actual shots on goal. It’s also interesting to note Ally Courtnall coming off the bench and being a revelation for the Bruins with five shots and the assist on Bywaters’ goal. You’d also have to look at the team’s new starter in goal, freshman Katelyn Rowland. I had a sneaking suspicion that Rowland would find her way in the lineup sooner or later but didn’t suspect she’d be starting this soon. The Bruins will have to put together two complete halves to stand a chance of beating Florida on Sunday though.

The home side will be frustrated with having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory after conceding twice in the final ten minutes. While the Lady Vols saw Chelsea Hatcher and Caroline Brown kept somewhat in check, they still found themselves ahead through Hatcher a few minutes after the hour mark. But it’d be Tennessee’s defense that’d let them down as they struggled to bottle up Leroux, Bywaters, and later Courtnall as the visitors began to overrun the Big Orange in Knoxville. Tennessee will have to pick themselves up in a hurry with another potential RPI boosting match on Sunday afternoon against Texas A&M. Sunday’s match is also the last real test for the program before SEC play starts as well, so they’ll want to pick up their biggest win of the season against the Big XII powerhouse.

Wisconsin 2 (Walls 37′, Williams 55′) – 1 (Elston 90′) Washington

Funny how Wisconsin seems a much more formidable foe with more of their pieces at their disposal. With Alev Kelter and Paige Adams back (though both on the bench), the Badgers were a much tougher force to deal with. Then again, it might be that Washington just isn’t as good a team as Notre Dame. All kidding aside, two goals from a source other than Laurie Nosbusch has to be relieving for Paula Wilkins’, whose side was altogether too reliant on their big offensive talisman last season. Also promising were the two assists from Swedish rookie Julia Roddar, one of the most interesting under the radar additions of any team over the offseason. The combo of Roddar and eventually Kelter in midfield could be something to watch in Madison. The defense was quite effective in shutting down Washington’s offense as well. The Badgers should pick up an easy win over Wisconsin-Green Bay on Sunday before a very tantalizing matchup with Dayton next weekend on the road.

Washington’s stuttering start to the season continues with a loss away from home. Huskies coach Lesle Gallimore has indicated an unhappiness with the team’s defending, and it’s hard to argue with her after UW’s conceded three in two games thus far, albeit against strong opposition. Seemingly just as important, Washington’s offense doesn’t seem to be totally clicking at the moment, and the visitors were clearly second best on the night with a last minute free kick serving as consolation for UW. The Huskies should get a prime opportunity to grab their first win of the season against Iowa State on Sunday afternoon before another crunch clash against Boston University back at home next weekend.

Major Upsets:

BYU 0 – 1 Miami (FL)
USC 2 – 3 Kansas

One thought on “NCAA Soccer – MatchDay Not-So-Live for 08/26/11 – The Empire Strikes Back

  1. cow pasture alum

    I attended the Penn State-West Virginia match and posted my observations in a previous thread. What Chris said closely tracks what I saw.

    I also attended today’s doubleheader. (The Nittany Valley experienced Hurricane Irene in a small way, as it rained until just before the noon kickoff.) The games went according to form, with WVU beating George Mason, 3-0, and PSU getting an identical result against Richmond. I think that ‘Eers defenders Drea Barklage and Bry McCarthy deserve some mention.


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