Duke 0 – 0 Virginia
In a nerve wracking and exciting match, Duke and Virginia were unable to be separated after one hundred and ten thrilling minutes, finishing in a scoreless draw. The home side might consider themselves especially unfortunate after freshman star Kelly Cobb smashed the bar twice in the latter portions of the match. On the whole, Duke’s finishing on the evening left a lot to be desired, with only four of their twenty attempts on the evening finding the target, making the job a little easier for Virginia keeper Chantel Jones. Cobb was still a massive presence for Duke though, with eight shots, including those two that rang off the bar. While some may note that Duke was shutout for only the second time on the season, it’s also worth noting that the Blue Devils were also successful in shutting down Virginia’s prolific attack, though they needed another strong performance from keeper Tara Campbell. Duke’s title hopes are still very much alive, but they need to pick up all three points against Virginia Tech on Sunday to stay in a position of strength in the ACC.
Virginia might’ve gotten a bit lucky with Cobb hitting the bar twice, but it was still a hard fought battle with the Cavs deserving of escaping with a point. UVA had eight shots on goal, with Caroline Miller and Morgan Brian combining for seven of those. The visitors didn’t exactly silence the Duke attack (they did have twenty shots after all) but did just enough to keep them off the board, which isn’t something a lot of other teams can claim this year. Chantel Jones continues to have an excellent season, and this display was encouraging considering they’ve got another tough test ahead of themselves on Sunday afternoon against Wake Forest. The schedule for the Cavs eases up considerably after the next two matches, meaning Virginia could be in a pretty good position if they can pick up points against Wake and Florida State next week. The Cavs may be dodging a bullet as far as fatigue is concerned for Sunday’s match. While Virginia did end up going to extra time in this one, so did Wake against Virginia Tech, meaning the Cavs shouldn’t be at any great disadvantage fatigue-wise.
Florida State 0 – 2 (Brooks 15′, Jones 29′) North Carolina
North Carolina rebounded from Sunday’s defeat to Virginia with a convincing win over Florida State, whose ACC title hopes have surely ended now. The Noles were their own worst enemy, spurning multiple golden opportunities in front of goal for the umpteenth time this season while also falling victim to a poor display of goalkeeping from Kelsey Wys who should have done much better with Brooks’ shot at the quarter hour mark that squirted under her and gave the away side the initiative. FSU were only outshot 15-14 on the night but only put three shots on goal and didn’t force Adelaide Gay into a save in the first half of action. Florida State were better in the second half but still couldn’t find the back of the net, which is becoming a theme for them against top level opponents this season. The Noles should have few problems with NC State on Sunday as long as they do a professional job. The next big test should be next weekend against Virginia. If FSU can’t win then, they might want to prepare for a trip on the road in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
A much needed win for North Carolina, and one that gets them back into the ACC title race at that. There was a little bit of good fortune in the first goal scored by Brooks, but there was nothing lucky about Jones’ goal that was an absolute smashing strike. Carolina set their stall out in their experimental 4-2-3-1 formation, and it seemed to work better on this evening than when they played it against Virginia last Sunday. It’s still going to be a work in progress for the rest of the year, but the Heels did an effective job of limiting FSU’s chances, especially in the first half. Jones scoring also has to be a relief for UNC fans after the slump her and Kealia Ohai have been going through in the first half of this season. You also have to tip your hat to UNC’s little heralded defender Caitlin Ball who went the full ninety minutes for the Heels and hardly looked out of place for the visitors in a strong defensive effort. Now back in the title race in the ACC, Carolina can’t afford to slip up in Coral Gables on Sunday afternoon, the fate that’s befallen them in both 2007 and 2009 in 1-0 losses to the Hurricanes.
Penn State 3 (Schram 46′, Chapic 47′, Hurd 54′) – 1 (Cameron 9′) Ohio State
Penn State used a three goal flurry at the beginning of the second half to bury Ohio State and take control of their destiny in the Big Ten title race after Wisconsin’s draw later in the night. It was somewhat shocking considering the home side had been very much second best for the first half which showed after the Nittany Lions were put behind on the back of a goal from Tiffany Cameron. The second half was a complete turnaround though for Penn State who stunned Ohio State with a goal from Taylor Schram right out of the gate before scoring two more in less than ten minutes to leave the Buckeyes shellshocked. Despite not putting a shot on goal, it was still a banner night for Maya Hayes, who assisted on all three goals. It was an important performance, showing that PSU could get it done offensively even when their big hitter up front was not putting shots on frame. The first half display was disappointing, but the rebound in the second half was great, and putting three of their four shots in the back of the net was a great display of efficiency. PSU’s back in control of its destiny in the Big Ten now but has to be wary of a Sunday trip to Minnesota, never an easy place to play at.
OSU losing to Penn State is always tough, but this was an especially crushing defeat given the manner of how it went down. For Ohio State to give up three goals in such short order in the second half shows a distinct lack of focus that probably explains part of why the Buckeyes are now firmly placed on the bubble. While Lauren Granberg was solid up front again, the side effect of moving her up to attack was seen in the second half after PSU scored those three goals in quick succession. Paige Maxwell may have assisted on Cameron’s goal but was entirely quiet otherwise. Sunday’s game in Madison is a massive one for both Ohio State and Wisconsin. The loser of which is probably out of the Big Ten title race. If Ohio State falls again, they could also be in a whole heap of bubble trouble going into the second half of league play as well.
Wake Forest 0 – 0 Virginia Tech
Wake Forest hammered at the door all night long but were ultimately unable to put anything past Virginia Tech keeper Dayle Colpitts, in a battling display in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons showed all of their offensive firepower with Katie Stengel and Rachel Nuzzolese both getting off seven shots and four on goal each, but crucially, neither could break the deadlock, consigning Wake to a draw in the end. Ironically, Tech may have come closest to scoring when Kelsey Loupee had hit the post in the first half. Despite the offense being unable to punch it in, it was still a great defensive display from the home side who did well to bottle up Kelly Conheeney for much of the night. Wake will be disappointed to have not gained ground on most of the other contenders for the ACC title with a win, especially with Virginia coming to town on Sunday afternoon. Both sides may be on rubber legs after going to extra time, but both also know they need a win to keep up in the dog-eat-dog ACC title race.
Virginia Tech will probably be happy with the point on the road after being run ragged for parts of the match by their hosts. The Hokies fought hard and ultimately escaped with a draw, though Stengel and Nuzzolese gave them some real problems in defense. Colpitts has always had the potential but never the consistency in goal, and the ten save performance on the night may show that she’s starting to put things together, which is definitely a boon for VT. Tech’s lack of a true quality center forward is beginning to show a bit though, and the club can’t rely on Conheeney’s goals to make up the bulk of the scoring going forward if they want to be successful. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that VT still doesn’t have a win in the league. While that might be expected given the opposition, it’d be nice for the Hokies to get an upset to avoid putting huge pressure on themselves for the Miami (FL)-Clemson-NC State run of games that could ultimately make or break their postseason hopes. Duke’s the last opponent before that series, and the Blue Devils aren’t going to be in a forgiving mood considering they need a win just as badly as the Hokies do.