Archive for August, 2010

I. Northwestern pulls the upset of the season
Northwestern coach Stephanie Foster once scored two goals in the span of five seconds during her playing career with the Wildcats, a feat which is only slightly more probable than the final score of Sunday’s game between the alma mater she now coaches and No. 3 UCLA.

Northwestern 1, UCLA 0

And that’s not just any 1-0 score. The Wildcats not only scored one more goal than the Bruins, they took one more shot than the Bruins, who outshot Cal Poly 29-2 in a 7-0 win to open the season last week. It’s the first loss against an unranked team for UCLA since 2006, and if you want to get subjective about it, perhaps the biggest nonconference upset loss since Maryland and Utah beat UCLA in 2004.

It’s a moment worth celebrating for the Wildcats, but the question quickly becomes what happens next? Coming off an overtime win against DePaul to open the season, is this the beginning of the first NCAA tournament campaign for the program since 1998? Or will this rank as the high point of the season? (You could do worse, if so.)

We may have some pretty conclusive evidence one way or the other by the end of September — the Wildcats own one of the Big Ten’s tougher nonconference schedules, following up Sunday’s encounter with a game at BYU Tuesday and home games against Kansas, Missouri and Notre Dame before opening conference play at the end of the month.

The Wildcats have struggled to score in recent seasons, their goal production dropping in each of the last four campaigns and hitting rock bottom with just 15 goals in 19 games last season. And that was with Alicia Herczeg, who graduated ninth all time at Northwestern in goals after last season, scoring six times.

Freshman Kate Allen has all three of Northwestern’s goals this season, including, obviously, the winner against the Bruins, while Cal transfer Caroline Dagley is second on shots and seems to have settled in as a full-time starter in her second season in Evanston. If those become familiar names to Big Ten fans, the Wildcats may have the defense (22 shots and one goal against in three games) to build on a result Sunday that may just stand up as the season’s biggest shocker.

II. Long Beach State has the best weekend for teams not on a Great Lake
Long Beach State’s weekend in Texas will be overshadowed by the loss its neighbor in California suffered against Northwestern, but that’s about the only thing that didn’t go right for the 49ers.

Playing two neutral-site games at Texas A&M, Long Beach State knocked off No. 24 Washington State Friday and No. 16 Virginia Tech Sunday.

Not bad, considering the two wins matches the number Long Beach State had away from home all of last season.



Read Full Post »

(Note: What’s below comes out of Virginia’s game Friday against Penn State. From the play-by-play of Sunday’s game against Connecticut, it appears Stith came out in the 95th minute and didn’t return, either during the remainder of the first overtime period or for the start of the second overtime period. Hopefully that isn’t indicative of an injury of any significant nature. I’ll update as information becomes available.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Morgan Stith’s greatest moments come just before the highlights that never happen. And she’s becoming one heck of a killjoy.

Early in Friday’s game between No. 12 Penn State and No. 15 Virginia, Nittany Lions freshman Hayley Brock, ball in tow, raced past a Virginia defender and into open space near the end line. With most of the Cavaliers still trailing the sudden foray, Brock delivered a pass to teammate Danielle Toney on the edge of the 6-yard box.

At which point nothing much happened.

But nothing much happened in large part because of Stith. The sophomore defender not only kept pace with Toney, one of the nation’s fastest players, as she made her run into the box, but then stood her up, sans support, with Toney’s back to goal. By the time Toney moved away from goal and found any room, Stith’s compatriots had regrouped and blocked the ensuing shot.

It might have been almost as important a moment in the eventual 1-1 draw as Virginia’s Lauren Alwine scoring the tying goal with just over three minutes to play or Cavaliers keeper Chantel Jones saving a penalty kick, but it earned barely even a disappointed collective sigh from the large crowd at Penn State’s Jeffrey Field.

Savoring just that reaction requires a rather particular personality.

“At the times when you really need defense, those are what I live for,” Stith said. “I really, really like that a lot.”


Read Full Post »

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Even the fog was fast Friday night, a meteorological match for No. 15 Virginia and No. 12 Penn State.

The fog makes its way into the night.

The most unexpected guest among a record crowd of 3,912 at Jeffrey Field first crept around the crossbars and drifted through the netting of the goal the Nittany Lions defended with no more than half an hour remaining in the game and the home team leading 1-0, courtesy of a Hayley Brock goal. By regulation’s final whistle it was gone, having moved from one end of the field to the other, escaped to the parking lot beyond and finally dissipated into nothingness in a matter of minutes.

And with it, the win Penn State seemed to have in its grasp.

Inches from extending its lead to two goals with barely five minutes to play in regulation when Brock slid a shot barely wide of the far post at one end, the Nittany Lions instead saw Virginia’s Lauren Alwine take a pass from Caroline Miller and slot home the equalizer with 3:04 to play. After both teams traded quality scoring opportunities in overtime, a game that promised a battle of supremacy between potential College Cup sleepers ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

“There are several ways you can look at it,” Virginia coach Steve Swanson said of the draw. “You can look at it and feel maybe you should have won it because you had some good chances to go ahead. You maybe feel like you could have lost it because they had some good chances. And then you kind of settle on the draw.

“I think probably a draw was a fair result tonight.”

But a race unwon is a race still run, and to that end, the speed of Friday’s game offered an ever better measure of what’s ahead for both teams than would have a win or a loss in the standings.

The game was, of course, a rematch of one of more curious NCAA tournament games in recent memory, a second-round game on the same field last season in which a 2-0 Penn State halftime lead became a 6-2 Virginia win, with all six Cavaliers goals coming in a 20-minute span. But even that recent history seemed to run a distant third to present and future on a night when Brock, Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram made their home debuts for the Nittany Lions.


Read Full Post »

Friday’s best
1. Stanford at North Carolina
2. Virginia at Penn State
3. Santa Clara at California
4. UCLA at Wisconsin
5. Virginia Tech at Texas A&M
6. Duke vs. Missouri (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
7. Maryland at Tennessee
8. New Mexico vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (at Marquette)
9. Hofstra at Boston College
10. Dayton at Colorado College

Best of the rest
Miami at Purdue
Wake Forest at East Carolina
William & Mary vs. Connecticut (State College, Pa.)
Ohio State at Pitt
St. John’s at James Madison
Louisville at South Carolina
Auburn at Marquette
Washington at Massachusetts
Baylor at Arizona State
Oklahoma State at Oregon
Arizona at San Diego
Utah at Georgia
Indiana at Kentucky
Minnesota at Vanderbilt
Michigan vs. Pepperdine (San Diego)
Denver at Loyola Marymount
SMU at Portland

Saturday special
LSU at Memphis

Sunday’s best
1. Duke vs. Stanford (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
2. USC at Texas
3. Oklahoma State at Portland
4. Missouri at North Carolina
5. West Virginia at Ohio State
6. Virginia vs. Connecticut (State College, Pa.)
7. San Diego State at Florida
8. William & Mary at Penn State
9. Kansas at Georgia
10. New Mexico at Marquette

Best of the restt
Charlotte at NC State
Villanova at James Madison
UCLA vs. Northwestern (Madison, Wisc.)
SMU at Oregon
Arizona vs. Pepperdine (San Diego)
Washington at Boston University
Auburn at UW-Milwaukee
Loyola Marymount at Nebraska

Read Full Post »

Browsing for what coaches and players had to say from team site video.

Texas coach Chris Petrucelli on Leah Fortune
“Leah was gone all year; we hadn’t seen her much. We just got her back this week, and we’re happy to have her back. She created the first one with her throw-in and got the game-winner and was dangerous the whole game.” — Link

Texas defeated NC State 2-1, with Fortune scoring the second goal and setting up the first with a flip throw. The redshirt freshman sat out last season but competed over the summer for Brazil in the Under-20 World Cup.

Penn State coach Erica Walsh on her back line at West Virginia
“I thought Christine [Nairn] played an integral part tonight in switching the point of attack. It was a good field and she did a nice job of finding our outside backs. Emma [Thomson] did well to get into the attack, and [Megan Monroig] did as well. I’m especially proud of that back line. I thought they came together well with Krissy Tribbett and did a nice job keeping some shots away from our goal. ” — Link

Keeper Tribbett has as tough a job as any player in the game this season, stepping in for Alyssa Naeher, who has herself wasted little time emerging as a starter for Boston in WPS. Tribbett missed last season for the Nittany Lions and the redshirt sophomore had three career starts prior to the game in Morgantown, W.V. With Thomson, Monroig, Lexi Marton and Carly Niness in front of her, only one of West Virginia’s 10 shots required a save.


Read Full Post »

I. There is life after talking heads for New Mexico
It won’t fill time for any of the sports-blather radio shows. Pundits won’t work themselves into a lather, or snidely serve up coded language while debating what it means on television. Heck, as far as I know, it will even go ignored on the website I work for. But New Mexico had a heck of a weekend of women’s soccer.

Playing without Elizabeth Lambert, who now seems to be listed as Liz for reasons that you can probably figure out for yourself with a Google search, New Mexico rolled over Montana by a 7-0 to open the season and then followed it with a surprisingly decisive 3-0 margin of victory against Nebraska. Lambert sat out the games as part of the suspension handed down for the much-publicized incident against BYU, but she will be eligible to play next week when New Mexico travels to Milwaukee for two suddenly intriguing games against UW-Milwaukee and Marquette.

Picked fifth in the Mountain West preseason poll, New Mexico scored just 29 goals in 21 games last season, and never more than eight in a two-game stretch. But with leading scorer Jennifer Williams, two goals on the weekend, among 10 returning starters, it’s a team worth keeping an eye on for strictly soccer reasons.

The Lobos even managed to add a marriage proposal to the weekend haul, offering a nice moment for a program that closed last season in controversy. A fourth-year student with junior eligibility who appeared in just one game last season, Kerrin Stephan accepted boyfriend Kris Bakhois’ on-field surprise on-field proposal (you can get the whole story from this video).

II. North Carolina is going to do what North Carolina does
Who was suggesting the Tar Heels perhaps weren’t the preseason No. 1? Ah, yes, I guess that was me. At least I had some company from other polls.

Two games way from Chapel Hill, six goals scored by six players and no goals conceded by a freshman goalkeeper and, with the exception of the first half of the first game, an entirely new back line. Who needs Casey Nogueira, Tobin Heath, Whitney Engen, Kristi Eveland, Nikki Washington, Jessica McDonald, Lucy Bronze and Ashlyn Harris, anyway?


Read Full Post »

But will the No. 19 Women of Troy may make coach Ali Khosroshahin an old man by season’s end? USC’s coach doesn’t lack for confidence, but watch the video of his take on a 1-0 loss at home against San Diego and it’s difficult to picture the championship celebration that took place just three years ago.

All right, that all sounds a little dire. It may well turn out that Khosroshahin has the foundation of another run at the College Cup in his highly touted freshman class; it’s just not quite time in the building process to move the furniture in yet.

USC started five freshmen in the opener — Shelby Church, Autumn Altamirano, Haley Boysen, Elizabeth Eddy and Allie Harrison. The result sounds like, well, what you would expect with five freshmen. That the Women of Troy managed just eight shots and two corner kicks in 90 minutes suggests the coach’s stated concerns about poor passing weren’t just a perfectionist’s pickiness.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »