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Friday Recap: WPS updates, Duke, Stanford advance

Christen Press

The drama continues to unfold in Women’s Professional Soccer’s quest to stay relevant – and even existent. But that has been slightly overshadowed by championship weekend in all three divisions of the NCAA.

Stanford and Duke are set to meet in the Division I College Cup final on Sunday after both won convincingly in Friday’s semifinals.

Stanford beat Florida State 3-0 on goals from Chioma Ubogagu, Kristy Zurmuhlen and Alina Garciamendez. Ubogagu led the way with a goal and an assist, including the opening goal in the 22nd minute on a counter attack off of a Florida State corner that saw two Seminoles defenders slip in pursuit. Ubogagu’s goal broke 15 minutes of pressure from Florida State. Zurmuhlen scored two minutes later and Garciamendez added an insurance goal in the 64th minute on a great header.

Duke beat ACC rival Wake Forest convincingly in the second semifinal, cruising to a 4-1 victory. The score was a bit harsh for Wake Forest, who played well at the start of the match and conceded some soft goals. Sophomore Mollie Pathman scored twice and Kaitlyn Kerr and Kim Decesare added a goal each to lift Duke. Aubrey Bledsoe had a bit of a nightmare in goal, which was an unfortunate way to cap off her great season.

Stanford will surely be favored in Sunday’s final and rightly so. This is Stanford’ fourth-straight College Cup, but the Cardinal has yet to ever win a national championship. Duke hasn’t been this far since 1992, when the Blue Devils lost 9-1 to North Carolina in the championship. Sunday’s game kicks-off at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.

Saturday’s Division III women’s soccer final is going to be an absolute dandy as an old rivalry will be renewed. Messiah College beat William Smith 1-0 on Friday in a semifinal grudge match to advance to Saturday’s final. Junior Alex Brandt scored what would be a wonder goal at any level in the 70th minute for the game-winning goal.

Wheaton (Ill.) dominated Ithaca in a 2-0 win, out-shooting the over-matched Bombers 28-3. Ithaca managed to get to halftime 0-0, but second half goals from Anna Seabolt and Jaime Orewiler (PK) scored 20 minutes apart to lift Wheaton into the final. Saturday’s final is an all-out heavyweight rivalry and a rematch of the 2007 and 2008 championship games. Wheaton was victorious in 2007 and also won the national championship in 2004 and 2006. Messiah claimed the 2008 title over Wheaton and also won the national championship in 2005 and 2009.

[dropcap]IN WPS[/dropcap] news, the future of the league continues to hang in the balance as it awaits sanctioning from the U.S. Soccer Federation. There is no chance a sixth expansion team will be found for 2012, so WPS is hoping to convince the USSF that it has a sound plan for the future and that the federation should allow WPS to play with five teams in 2012. Ann Killion suggests that the U.S. women’s national team could serve as a traveling sixth team, but a couple owners I have spoken with suggest that no such proposal is being explored or presented to the USSF. WPS is delivering a presentation to the federation on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Peter Wilt says to scrap WPS and start anew with far more modest budgets. It’s a bold idea considering that most think losing WPS means losing women’s pro soccer in this country for good, but Wilt makes some great points and has inside knowledge as somebody who helped launch the league and the Chicago Red Stars, a founding member.

And while the league chaos continues, signings are business as usual and the Atlanta Beat have made a serious splash, signing 2011 WPS Rookie of the Year Christen Press. Suddenly, Atlanta has that goal-scorer it needed last year. Press scored eight goals with magicJack in 2011. Surely head coach James Galanis has more up his sleeve and Atlanta, assuming there is a season (an unfortunate clause that will hang over any news like this for a short while), is due for a better year in 2012.


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