USC upsets WVU, 3-1, to win College Cup final

Allison Lee December 4, 2016 19
USC's Morgan Andrews beats WVU's Ashley Lawrence to the header, resulting in an early goal for the Trojans in their College Cup win. (photo courtesy USC Women's Soccer Twitter)

USC’s Morgan Andrews beats WVU’s Ashley Lawrence to the header, resulting in an early goal for the Trojans in their College Cup win. (photo courtesy USC Women’s Soccer Twitter)

The University of Southern California Trojans upset the West Virginia University Mountaineers, 3-1, to win the 2016 College Cup.

To advance to the College Cup final, both USC and WVU defeated their semifinal opponents (Georgetown and UNC, respectively) 1-0 for a shot at the national title, and both teams had given up only one goal apiece previously in tournament play. USC came into the final off four consecutive shutouts, while WVU came into the match on a 17-game unbeaten streak. The Mountaineers also made program history by advancing to the final for the first time in program history, as well as being the first ever Big 12 team to advance to the final.

Despite the odds being slightly against them (WVU was the no. 1 team in the nation and a number-one seed in the tournament), USC took an early lead in their NCAA College Cup national championship win, but it was by no means an easy battle for the Trojans. Despite a goal by MAC Hermann trophy semifinalist Morgan Andrews in just the second minute of competition, the fastest goal ever scored in a women’s College Cup final, the Trojan attack all but disappeared after the first 15 minutes of the match. However, with a second-half brace from Katie Johnson, who also scored the semifinal-winning goal against Georgetown, USC fought back in the second half to defeat the favored Mountaineers.

USC first took the lead after Andrews earned a corner kick for the Trojans just minutes into the competition. The ball was served in and was not cleared out successfully, going instead to USC defender Savannah Levin, who headed to ball into the box, where Andrews managed to flick the ball with her head past Rylee Foster to put USC on the board first. The goal is the fastest goal ever scored in a College Cup final and Andrews’10th of the year, tying Alex Anthony for most goals for the season for USC.

Michaela Abam followed Andrews’ goal by earning two free kicks for WVU in the vicinity of their offensive third, giving the team set pieces in good scoring position. However, the Mountaineers could not capitalize on the opportunity, with USC goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme coming off her line to deny Kadeisha Buchanan an opportunity on goal, and the second being cleared out of danger soon after being served in.

Although USC came out strong and saw their momentum surge after Andrews’ early goal, the momentum shifted in WVU’s favor about 15 minutes into the match. USC took the first three shots of the match, but then failed to get off a single shot in the last 30 minutes of the first half, allowing WVU to take 10 unanswered shots. Abam’s ability to draw fouls to earn free kicks was beneficial to creating opportunities off set pieces. Ashley Lawrence, Sh’Nia Gordon and Amandine Pierre-Louis all provided strong runs that resulted in opportunities in front of the net, only to be denied each time. Prudhomme made a number of good stops, although the ball often was not cleared as well as the Trojans would have liked. That resulted in a number of loose balls in front of goal, but WVU was unable to finish. Because of that, the game went into halftime with USC still leading WVU, 1-0.

The second half seemed much more even than the first as both teams shared possession and got off a number of quality shots on goal. WVU had a couple opportunities right in front of the goal early in the second half, but failed to finish any of them but earned a corner off the sequence. The ball was perfectly served into the goal, but Prudhomme got a finger on it before it was headed out by a WVU attacker.

Ashley Lawrence leveled the score in the 66th minute when she received the ball at the top of the box and maneuvered around Sydney Sladek to get a look on goal. Prudhomme had difficulty seeing the ball as there was some traffic in front of her, and her diving save came up short as Lawrence’s ball found the back of the net.

USC followed the Mountaineer goal up with a shot on goal of their own by Katie Johnson, the hero in their semifinal win over Georgetown. Andrews played the ball to Leah Pruitt, who kept the ball in bounds and continued driving down the left side line, eventually going 2v1 before crossing the ball to Johnson. Foster seemed to hesitate on the play, staying on her line and allowing Johnson to take the shot. Johnson’s shot went right but Foster dove left, allowing Johnson’s ball to go into the back of the net.

Once USC retook the lead, the WVU attack seemed to panic, firing shots off from distance that failed to test Prudhomme. Kadeisha Buchanan also pushed up into the attack while the Mountaineers searched desperately for an equalizer, which made their defense much more susceptible to attack. That proved fatal in the 87th minute when Katie Johnson took a shot from outside the box and scored an insurance goal to increase USC’s lead to 3-1.

Johnson’s brace was more than enough to seal the win for USC, and the Trojans celebrated their second College Cup final win in program history. It is the second win in just two appearances in the national championship game for the Trojans, making them perfect in College Cup play. The Trojans’ last national title was won in 2007 when they defeated Florida State 1-0.

  • atalba

    Great game. The two best teams in the NCAA this season. Both putting up strong performances throughout the College Cup. Way to go Katie!

    • Gary Diver

      Was there a player of the match?

      • atalba

        All College Cup tournament: offensive player: Katie Johnson 3 goals. Defensive: Kadeisha Buchanan. Kayla Mills and Mandy Freeman were also selected. Maybe Andrews, don’t recall. Ashley Lawrence selected; had a very good game and fantastic strike for goal.

    • Paul Klee

      That was a great choice for best offensive player at the College Cup, whom else would you choose.

      • atalba

        Abam’s shot was killer. Pruitt showed the same kind of tenacity she displayed all season; stealing the ball. Lawrence’s shot and play was on another level.; confident and courageous. Pierre-Louie constantly threatened up the left side. But Katie clearly deserved it.

        • Paul Klee

          When you score half the goals in the entire cup, it’s kind of a no-brainer

  • wosofan

    credit to the coach, who is got to be a rising star among American coaching ranks. And congrats to Morgan Andrews, who surely got her revenge – her former ND teammates having bowed out of this tourney in the 1st round. Doesn’t mean Andrews is destined for NWSL or WNT stardom, but achievement at this level is more than most could even dream of. Frankly, if we’re giving call-ups to Sullivan and declaring her a midfield genius against weaklings, we can do the same for Andrews (and Colaprico, for that matter).

    • Steglitz49

      No doubt her agent will be showing the video to managers of the ladies teams of the rich men’s clubs. After all, there ain’t much to play for in the good ol’ US of A for the next 2 seasons.

    • Nope

      colaprico is yesterday’s news. ellis doesnt rate her.

  • Ethan

    Where the heck was the left side of WVU’s defense on Johnson’s first?

    • Paul Klee

      Live by the press, die by the press. The back just got beat. Speaking of Foster though Her confidence in the defenses she plays for has to be pretty low right now. After all she just got back from the under 20s where she saw 13 goals go in the net behind her in only three matches. 16 goals in five matches including one shut out doesn’t do much for the stats?

    • Steglitz49

      Verily.

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    • Breakers fan

      Good observation and question. One could say that – despite having pushed forward trying to help get the go-ahead goal, the left back (I don’t know who it was) should have sprinted back the instant she saw Andrews blast that ball away from the USC final third. My guess is that she thought the ball would be soon back in the USC half, as often those kind of desperate-seeming clears are, as they do usually get possessed by a defender and sent back in. She probably ball-watched, took a breather, and then when she saw Pruitt make that miraculous play it was far too late to get back and help with the defense of the then-seriously attacking Trojans.

  • Steglitz49

    It looks pretty full. How many were there? 20,000?

    • Rdalford

      The USC women’s soccer site has box score that lists 6612 as attendance for the NCAA final match won 3-1 by USC or Vest Virginia.

      The NCCA women’s soccer site has box scores that show 4293 attendance for the semi-final matches (USC win over GT and WVU win over UNC)

      It appeared to me (watching TV broadcast) that fans may have been limited to seating mostly along one side (opposite the TV camera position) so not sure if seating sections for entire stadium were in use.

      There is a youth soccer showcase event held in North Carolina and timed to overlap with NCAA college cup, so youth soccer teams (and parents) in the area for the showcase event tend to boost attendance when NCAA cup is held in Cary NC to 8K-10K range. The 2015 NCAA final in Cary NC drew 13K last year (held in conjunction with youth soccer showcase event) while the stand alone 2014 NCAA woso final, held in Florida and also held without a concurrent youth soccer tournament, only drew 4137 attendance. So in context (stand alone, no youth soccer tournament etc) 6612 is understandable but certainly not a sell out (stadium seats 18K).

      • Steglitz49

        6612 is a goodly number. Even 4137 is OK. Granted, it could be more, and probably should be, but Rome was not built in a day.

  • mskillens

    As a UCLA bruin, this irritates me….

    • Silver Frost

      Pac 12 has a lot to be proud of in woso. Always underrated by mass media.