NCAA – Chris’ Eye-Test Field of Sixty-Four (Week Three)

America East (1) – UMBC
AAC (2) – UCF, UConn
Atlantic 10 (1) – La Salle
ACC (7) – Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Clemson, Duke
Atlantic Sun (1) – Florida Gulf Coast
Big XII (5) – Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Texas
Big East (2) – Georgetown, DePaul
Big Sky (1) – Portland State
Big South (1) – Liberty
Big Ten (6) – Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska
Big West (1) – Long Beach State
Colonial (1) – James Madison
Conference USA (1) – Rice
Horizon (1) – Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Ivy (1) – Harvard
MAAC (1) – Monmouth
MAC (1) – Eastern Michigan
Missouri Valley (1) – Illinois State
Mountain West (1) – San Diego State
NEC (1) – Fairleigh Dicknson
Ohio Valley (1) – Tennessee-Martin
Pac-12 (9) – UCLA, Stanford, USC, Arizona State, Washington State, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Cal
Patriot (1) – Boston University
SEC (6) – Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Auburn, Kentucky, Arkansas
Southern (1) – Furman
Southland (1) – Stephen F. Austin
SWAC (1) – Alabama State
Summit (1) – Denver
Sun Belt (1) – Texas State
WCC (4) – Pepperdine, Santa Clara, Portland, San Diego
WAC (1) – Seattle

Last Five Out (alphabetical) – Baylor, Boston College, Georgia, Ole Miss, Wake Forest

NCAA: ACC 2-0 times 2 in conclusion of Virginia Tech Tournament

Sunday’s concluding half of the Virginia Tech Tournament wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Friday night’s first half, but the games proved to be both competitive and entertaining. In the end both ACC teams came out on top with 2-0 victories, Wake Forest over Georgetown and Virginia Tech over UNC-Wilmington.
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NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 09/07/14 – UCLA vs Pepperdine

UCLA vs Pepperdine – 8:30 PM (from Honolulu, Hawaii)

The circumstance of these two’s first match in Hawaii on Friday was starkly different and may have a serious impact on how this headlining clash on Sunday goes down. The top ranked Bruins had no problems breezing past hosts Hawaii, taking the lead in the eighth minute and racing out to a 5-0 lead at the half before adding an own goal in the second half to run out 6-0 winners. Sarah Killion scored and added two assists, while full-back Ally Courtnall also netted a pair of assists as the Bruins run right through the Big West side. Racing out to such a huge lead enabled Amanda Cromwell to empty the bench in the second half, and UCLA should come into this one well rested, especially in comparison to their opponents. The Bruins, despite playing most of their reserves extensively in the second half still conceded just one shot on goal to the Warriors. The defense will be tested by Pepperdine’s explosive attack, especially forward Lynn Williams, who can test even the best defense. Realistically, the Bruins should roll through the rest of their non-conference slate and stand a very good chance of going into the Stanford match unbeaten if they triumph again on Sunday evening.

Pepperdine may be typecast as an offensive side thanks to Williams’ presence up top, but the Waves’ defense has actually been more impressive through five matches, keeping four straight clean sheets after a 0-0 draw with Washington State on Friday. They’ve conceded just one goal all season, in the opener, which should hold them in good stead on Sunday as they try to become the first team in twenty-seven tries to defeat UCLA. But fatigue will not be on Pepperdine’s side. Whereas UCLA was able to relax a bit in the second half against Hawaii, the Waves were engaging in a brutal trench war with Washington State. Pepperdine might haves edged it slightly on the stat sheet, but they only had three shots on goal compared to one for Washington State. Williams was ever-present with five shots and two on goal, but the rest of the club’s attack struggled to make an impact. If anything though, the defense was able to stifle WSU to a great degree, though they likely expended a lot of energy doing so. The odds aren’t with the Waves on this one, but they’ve been exceeding expectations all season and have as much a chance as anyone to shock the world against the fancied Bruins.
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NCAA: Hokies Hammer Hoyas

Dear NCAA,

Look out! We just beat #13 Georgetown 6-1.

Sincerely yours,
Virginia Tech Women’s Soccer

P.S. Want to stop us from scoring? Who you going to cover? We got 6 goals from 5 players in this game, and 22 from 12 on the season.
P.P.S. It would have been rude to give our goalkeeper the night off, but we could have – she didn’t have to make a save all game.

Virginia Tech probably didn’t care about sending a message Friday night, but they did nonetheless, in a dramatic smackdown of the nationally ranked Georgetown Hoyas, who looked completely outclassed the entire 90 minutes.
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NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 09/05/14 – North Carolina vs Penn State & Derby Day

(West Coast + Hawaii match previews coming later Friday.)

North Carolina vs Penn State – 5:00 PM (from Durham, North Carolina)

Oh, the difference a few seasons can make. In 2012, North Carolina beat Penn State, 4-1, in the College Cup final. Two seasons on, North Carolina has scored one goal in four matches, which has led to an unseemly 1-2-1 record after the Heels battled UCLA to a scoreless draw before falling to Pepperdine on Sunday. UNC’s got a great strength of schedule, but regardless, the pressure’s still rising on the Heels to start winning games to avoid a very difficult path come NCAA Tournament time. The defense has been very strong thus far, conceding just two in four games and holding UCLA’s offense without a goal last Friday and held strong against Pepperdine for much of Sunday despite missing Hanna Gardner through injury. The offense has been another story entirely. They managed just one shot on goal in California last weekend, falling prey to UCLA’s crushing defense and dearly missing the injured Summer Green against Pepperdine. There’s no news about Green’s status for the Penn State and Arkansas matches this weekend, but the odds for victory decline markedly without the junior forward. Given Penn State’s firepower and UNC’s struggles in front of goal so far, a high scoring match would certainly not be in the ACC side’s favor.

Penn State has started the 2014 season much the way they have in recent seasons: by lighting up opposing defenses. Eight goals in three games marks a promising return, especially when you consider the club hasn’t exactly been going soft on the non-conference schedule. UConn was the latest team to be blown away by the PSU firepower last weekend, with Mallory Weber opening up the scoring before another of the Nittany Lions’ young guns, Megan Schafer, added a pair of goals to make it three straight two goal victories for the club. The defense hasn’t been faultless thus far, keeping just a single clean sheet so far, but when you’re scoring like they’ve been, you’ve got a much greater margin for error. A weekend sweep would go a long way in ensuring PSU is in contention for a high national seed come November. First thing’s first though is gaining a small manner of revenge for 2012 in Durham on Friday afternoon.
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NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 09/03/14 – DePaul vs Illinois State

DePaul vs Illinois State – 5:00 PM

Anyone doubting DePaul’s viability as a serious player at this level need only look at the club’s upset win at Nebraska on opening weekend to realize that the Blue Demons 4-0-0 record through two weekends of play is no illusion. While the rest of the non-conference schedule to this point isn’t exactly filled with world beaters, the victory at the defending Big Ten double winners was a pretty big indicator that the club should be right at the heart of the battle for the Big East title this season. There are precious few chances to build the profile before league play starts against Georgetown at the end of the month, meaning this mid-week showdown could be a priceless opportunity against a strong Illinois State side. Having kept just one clean sheet so far though, the DePaul defense may need to really tighten up before the visit of ISU and star striker Rachel Tejada. Sophomore transfer from Indiana State Abby Reed has started out her first season with the Blue Demons on fire, netting five goals, including three game winners, in her first four games with the club, showing she’s not struggling with the increase in level. Odds are, DePaul will need her to remain hot if the defense can’t contain the volatile ISU attack.

Illinois State is likely licking their wounds after being on the wrong end of a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Texas A&M on Sunday afternoon in College Station. The Aggies were a massive step up in competition from the feeble opposition the Redbirds had trounced in their first three wins, triumphing by a combined margin of 13-2. ISU managed to hang tough with A&M for a half before getting bowled over in the second half by the Aggies’ devastating attack. Thankfully for Drew Roff’s side, DePaul’s not Texas A&M. They are a very talented side though, so ISU’s defense, which has kept just one clean sheet to this point, will need to shake off the hammering they took in Texas. Far from being a one-woman army though, Illinois State has five different scorers with two goals to tie for the lead of the team, including two players, Keri Kujawa and Emily Dickman, who’ve come exclusively off the bench thus far. It’s helped take some of the substantial heat off of Rachel Tejada in leading the line and made ISU more dangerous on the whole. Given both clubs’ rather shaky defense thus far, this one has goals written all over it and could be a hidden gem before the action at-large kicks back in on the weekend.

NWSL Draft – Post U20 World Cup Stock Watch

Here’s a mini-update of where I’ve got players who played in the U20 WWC on my board at the moment and where they’ve moved since the early 2014 update of the boards. None of this takes into account any college season performance thus far. Some additional housekeeping notes also included.

2015

20. Katelyn Rowland – UCLA – GK (DOWN from #6)

REMOVED – Casey Morrison – D – Boston College (injury)
REMOVED – Alexa Newfield – MF/F – North Carolina (injury)
REMOVED – Cristin Granados – MF – South Florida (not rostered)

2016

1. Summer Green – North Carolina – F (UP from #5)
2. Cari Roccaro – Notre Dame – D/MF (DOWN from #1)
3. Makenzy Doniak – Virginia – F (DOWN from #2)
14. Janine Beckie – Texas Tech – F (UP from #16)
18. Katie Naughton – Notre Dame – D (DOWN from #4)
21. Katie Bowen – North Carolina – D (UP from #23)
28. Ashley Campbell – Dayton – F (DOWN from #19)
35. Kinley McNicoll – Wisconsin – D (UP from #39)

ADDED – 19. Casey Morrison – D – Boston College (Injury, 2015 #26)

REMOVED – McKenzie Meehan – F – Boston College (injury)
REMOVED – Olivia Brannon – D – Michigan (not rostered)
REMOVED – Christiane Endler – GK – South Florida (turned pro [Chelsea - ENG])
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NCAA: Terrapins return home, find offense for two wins

Alex Doody ended last season at Ludwig with 2 goals and started off this one with 2 more.

Alex Doody ended last season at Ludwig with 2 goals and started off this one with 2 more.

The main question hanging over the 2014 Maryland Terrapins was who was going to score for them given that Haley Brock – the team’s leading goal-scorer for the past three seasons – had graduated and heir apparent Alexis Prior-Brown tore her ACL in spring practice and wasn’t going to be available until November at the earliest.

No answers came in their first two matches, a Friday/Sunday road trip to California in which they took on #1 UCLA and then Pepperdine without ever putting one in the net.

It hasn’t helped that Gabby Galanti is also hurt (but expected to return before too much longer) and Alex Anthony is only healthy enough to go about half a match. Then on top of all that, Cory Ryan broke her arm in the Pepperdine match. She got some minutes in these two matches but was wearing a massive cast that looked as if she’d stuck her arm in white cotton candy. “She doesn’t have great balance, she can’t really move that well. She’s just not coordinated,” said head coach Jonathan Morgan. About the overall situation, he said, “We’ve got to do it by committee.”

Even so, Maryland managed two straight wins in their first two home matches, first a comfortable 4-0 win over William and Mary, then a tighter, 2-1, win over North Carolina State.
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NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 09/01/14 – Syracuse vs UConn

Syracuse vs UConn – 1:00 PM

These two former Big East rivals will not be taking Labor Day off, as they’ll jockey for NCAA Tournament at-large bid positioning on Monday. Syracuse picked up a creditable draw to open up the season against Missouri last weekend before being downed easily by Penn State a few days later. Everyone expected the Orange to pummel Albany on Friday, and Phil Wheddon’s side obliged in a 5-1 battering. Considering the rest of the Orange’s non-conference schedule outside of a potentially tricky trip to Colgate is largely laughable, this may be one of Syracuse’s last chances to make an impression before the grind of the ACC slate. Against Albany, Syracuse got big performances from two-goal Stephanie Skilton, as well as Alexis Koval off the bench. Given the lack of goals against bigger opposition a week earlier though, it remains up to the Orange to show the offense isn’t just smoke and mirrors when presented with a major conference opponent. The defense will also have to account for Rachel Hill, UConn’s predatory menace up front, who could rain on Syracuse’s parade on Monday afternoon in this pivotal showdown.

UConn are also going to be in a mood to prove themselves after a decisive 3-1 defeat to Penn State to begin the weekend. The Huskies had made a positive start to the season the weekend before in downing mid-major contenders Hofstra and Navy, but there are still lots of questions over the club’s ceiling at the moment. You could probably argue whether Syracuse is any better than Navy, or especially Hofstra, but there are few other opponents left on the non-conference slate between almost certain losses (Florida State) and certain wins (Stony Brook, CCSU, and the like). UConn’s defense got shredded by Penn State’s explosive attack on Friday, but the Orange’s attack is nowhere near as potent as PSU’s. The Huskies can score though, and Rachel Hill is already off to a strong start with three goals in three matches and will be key in testing the Syracuse defense in this Monday afternoon battle. Win this, and the club will likely be 5-1-0 going into a match with Saint John’s (NY) that could be huge for their NCAA Tournament hopes. But before that, UConn has to take care of business on the road against their former league rivals.

NCAA – Chris’ Eye-Test Field of Sixty-Four (Week Two)

Who does Chris feel would be in the field of sixty-four right now? These sixty-four teams…

America East (1) – UMBC
AAC (2) – UCF, UConn
Atlantic 10 (1) – La Salle
ACC (7) – Virginia, Florida State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Notre Dame, Clemson
Atlantic Sun (1) – Florida Gulf Coast
Big XII (5) – Texas Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas
Big East (3) – Georgetown, DePaul, Saint John’s (NY)
Big Sky (1) – Portland State
Big South (1) – Liberty
Big Ten (7) – Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio State
Big West (1) – Long Beach State
Colonial (1) – James Madison
Conference USA (1) – Rice
Horizon (1) – Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Ivy (1) – Harvard
MAAC (1) – Monmouth
MAC (1) – Eastern Michigan
Missouri Valley (1) – Illinois State
Mountain West (1) – San Diego State
NEC (1) – Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley (1) – Tennessee-Martin
Pac-12 (8) – UCLA, Stanford, Washington, USC, Cal, Washington State, Arizona State, Utah
Patriot (1) – Boston University
SEC (5) – Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky
Southern (1) – Furman
Southland (1) – Stephen F. Austin
SWAC (1) – Alabama State
Summit (1) – Denver
Sun Belt (1) – Texas State
WCC (4) – Pepperdine, Santa Clara, Portland, BYU
WAC (1) – Seattle