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NCAA Top 25 Roundup: Virginia survives road tests

Morgan Brian and Virginia stayed unbeaten this week after two tough road tests. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for The Equalizer)

Welcome to Week 5, a week chock full of Top 25 wake-up calls, nail-biters, hat-tricks and late heroics. Both the SEC and Big 10 started conference play while a host of ranked ACC squads continued to beat up on each other:

Virginia (1, 9-0-0, 3-0 ACC)The Cavaliers survived a pair of away scares as they hit the road for the first time this season, beating Boston College 2-1 on Thursday and Pitt 3-1 on Sunday.

It was tense in Newton as Stephanie McCaffrey’s early second-half goal for the BC Eagles broke a scoreless streak for Virginia stretching back nearly 500 minutes to the Penn State game in August. Makenzy Doniak retaliated in the 58th minute to score the first goal in program history at Boston College and the Cavaliers rallied to take maximum points four minutes later as Doniak’s deflected shot was headed in by defender Molly Menchel.

The Cavaliers were down again on Sunday when Pitt opened the scoring in the 11th minute as Dana DelleFemine capped a long run downfield to slot the ball under Danielle Delisle. Delisle got the start in goal over first-choice Morgan Stearns, just one of a handful of lineup changes coach Steve Swanson made on Sunday. Virginia tied it up later in the half as a cross into the box by Danielle Colaprico found Morgan Brian on the back side of a Doniak dummy. Brian took a small touch to make some space and ripped an easy shot on goal. Virginia continued to press the Panthers back in their defensive half through the first, peppering the box with 17 shots to the home side’s lone chance, and pressuring their backline for nine corners. The Cavaliers continued their comeback in the second half as Doniak struck for two goals in quick succession, scoring in the 57th and 62nd, ironically almost the exact same times as their goals on Thursday.

The last team left in the country with a perfect record, Virginia will have a big blue and orange target on their back as they continue their road series against Duke on Thursday, then head home to the friendly confines of Klockner on Sunday for an ACC Tournament Final rematch against Maryland.

Stanford (2, 7-0-1)The Cardinal bullied St. Mary’s in a 5-0 pounding and won a thrilling overtime contest 3-2 away at #22 Santa Clara.

Taylor Uhl scored her third consecutive brace on Thursday, leading the scoring on the night. Chi Ubogagu got things going midway through the first half as the junior finally netted her first of the season. Untroubled for most of the night behind a defense that only allowed St. Mary’s two shots on goal, freshman Jane Campbell logged her third clean sheet of the season just as the disappointing news was made public that senior goalkeeper Emily Oliver would be hanging up her mitts for good. A collision outside of the box in the game against Portland was the last in a series of concussions for the legendary keeper, who retires with two College Cup Final appearances, including a National Championship in 2011 in which the Cardinal keeper was named Defensive MVP. She retires having only allowed 21 goals in 64 games played, all but two as a starter, and 27 shutouts. The tearful Oliver waved goodbye before the game amidst a standing ovation.

There were plenty of interesting storylines on the field Sunday at Santa Clara, not the least of which was the head-to-head matchup of transferred forwards Uhl and Morgan Marlborough, but it was redshirt senior Courtney Verloo who stamped her name on this one. Verloo struck just two minutes in for the Cardinal, firing a bullet from distance which bounced just under keeper Andi Tostanoski for an early goal. Jane Campbell had a key save 15 minutes in when Julie Johnston headed down a free kick in the box from nearly point-blank range, but the cat-like kick-save of Jane Campbell kept it level. Moments later, though, Johnston would get her revenge, cranking a volley from 20 yards out under Campbell who had come out of the net on the play. Campbell let Sofia Huerta get another one past her with seven minutes left, but a silly foul in the box gave the Cardinal a last glimmer of hope. Appropriately, it was Verloo, nearly 90 minutes after opening the scoring, who equalized on the PK with less than a minute in regulation. Verloo closed out the night in double-overtime, again on a free kick just outside the box, bending the ball around the wall as a Cardinal player positioned among the Bronco defense pulled away to expose the near post, giving Verloo her hat-trick while crushing Bronco spirits.

Stanford kicks off their Pac-12 season with one match in the coming week, a Saturday contest against Colorado in Boulder.

Florida State (3, 8-0-2, 3-0-1 ACC) A pair of 1-0 results over North Carolina teams as FSU toppled the mighty Tar Heels on Wednesday and the less-than-mighty Wolfpack on Sunday.

“One-Nil to the Seminole” is the new theme in Tallahassee as FSU chalked up its fourth instance of said scoreline, this time against the reigning champs on national TV. FSU were pressed back for most of the first half, with the Heels taking a number of shots on Kelsey Wys’s goal. The Seminoles finally managed to string together some possession late in the half for their best chances. Dagny Brynjarsdottir had two breakaway opportunities including a late chance off a feed from Nickolette Driesse, that found the  Icelander racing to the edge of the box, only to have the ball cleared off her feet by Anna Sieloff as she went to touch it past. Deep into the second half, FSU’s Jamia Fields finally found the key to unlock the door with six minutes left in regulation, as Micaela Hahn shuffled a ball to Fields on the right flank. The midfielder put the shake-n-bake on a hapless Megan Brigman for a clean run into the box and placed her shot, deferring to accuracy over power, into the far corner of the Carolina net.

Sunday’s match against NC State ended with a much less impressive 1-0 victory. Driesse alone took a staggering ten shots, while the team as a whole had 29. Still, the Garnet and Gold could only manage one lone, late goal, as Marta Bakowska-Matthews bent a free kick inside the near post in the 87th minute.

Next up, the Seminoles play Miami at home then head up to South Carolina to face Clemson.

UCLA (4, 8-1-0)Shutout Pepperdine 2-0 and Loyola Marymount 3-0, playing both games on the road.

Freshman Darian Jenkins put the Bruins up early as UCLA handled a difficult Pepperdine team in Malibu. Jenkins’ goal came just under ten minutes into the half, taking a feed from the left flank by Sarah Killion, the freshman forward continued the momentum of the ball touching it under the Waves keeper and into the opposite corner. It was her team-leading sixth of the season. The defense excelled as usual, handling the difficult task of containing Waves’ star forward Lynn Williams, who still managed three shots on goal, all handled by junior goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland.

A trio of first-half goals had the Bruins up early over LMU. Ten minutes in, Taylor Smith recovered Caprice Dydasco’s deflected shot and easily slammed it home from close range to start the scoring. Samantha Mewis doubled the lead eight minutes later for her second of the season. Ten minutes later, Kodi Lavrusky drove through the Lions’ defense into the box and shot easily past the keeper. Unwilling to accept defeat, the Lions started pushing the Bruins back and eventually the pressure paid off as Abby Dahlkemper took LMU’s Bri Medved down on a breakaway into the box. The foul resulted in a straight red for the centerback and a PK for the Lions, but Rowland, already building a legacy as one of the best shot-stoppers in the game, guessed correctly on Medved’s penalty, knocking it out from just inside the post to preserve the clean sheet. With one arm tied behind their back, UCLA kept up the pressure for the rest of the match, but seemed content to leave the score at three.

Next week the Bruins have an away game on Sunday at Arizona to begin their PAC-12 conference season.

North Carolina (5, 8-2-0, 2-2-0 ACC) Split a tour of the Sunshine State, losing to #3 Florida State 0-1, then throttling Miami 4-0.

Short rest and a road trip following Sunday’s loss to Notre Dame probably didn’t do the Heels a world of good as they met Florida State on Wednesday. The Tar Heels started quickly, staying mostly in their attacking half for the first 15 minutes. Kealia Ohai had a great look in front of goal as defender Megan Brigman drove a ball from outside the box in toward Ohai who flicked it toward goal, but FSU’s Kelsey Wys parried it wide. Coming off an exhausting performance in the ND game, Crystal Dunn played the first half conservatively, limiting herself to mostly single touches through much of the half instead of her trademark hard-nosed runs through the defense. Coming out in the second half, though, Dunn’s mindset was clearly different. Within seconds of the half, Dunn received the ball near the top of the box and tested Wys with a left-footed shot on target, her first shot of the night. Dunn got in wide on an endline run in the 57th minute, serving a cross into the box beyond the punch of Wys, but Summer Green’s header on the open net went wide right. With Dunn off the field, FSU would eventually build up to the edge of the box, setting up Jamia Fields’ goal with seven minutes left. Carolina came back almost immediately as Ohai had a rocket shot from far out deflected away from goal by the defense. With just over a minute to go, a Carolina free kick set off a scrum in front of the box that offered several scoring opportunities, but the Heels just couldn’t get it past Wys and took their second straight 0-1 loss.

Dunn finally let off some steam after a three-game scoring drought to put Miami down 4-0. In the first half, Dunn was up to her old tricks, making a powerful run through the Miami defense before driving a low shot from 18 yards out into the back of the net. Ten minutes into the second half, Dunn rescued a Miami equalizer, clearing a ball off the line. Dunn took things into her own hands again with 64 minutes on the clock, busting through the Miami defense to crack her second goal of the day from 20 yards out. Dunn completed her hat-trick, the first for a Tar Heel in three years (Courtney Jones), with just over 20 to play as she struck a left-footed shot across her body and past ‘Canes keeper Emily Lillard. Green closed the game out in the 86th minute when she converted a penalty after she was taken down in the box.

The Tar Heels take on Pitt away and return to Chapel Hill on Sunday to play Maryland.

Wake Forest (6, 7-1-1, 2-1-1 ACC)Trumped rival Duke at home 3-1, then lost away at Maryland 1-0.

Riley Ridgik opened the scoring in the first half when Duke keeper Ali Kershner came out to the edge of the box to block a shot down, but pushed it into the path of Ridgik who crushed it into the open box from 18 yards out. Katie Stengel helped her team get back in the lead after giving up a goal to the Blue Devils, when the forward chased a ball to the endline as it was headed out, passing it back into the box where Caroline Wooten ran up on it and scorched a low drive past Kershner. Stengel added an insurance goal late to give her an even half-century of scores in her Wake career.

On Sunday, the Deacons lost their first of the season, going down early to Maryland off a Hayley Brock goal. Wake were unable to get even despite outshooting the Terrapins 17-6 and generally controlling the run of play.

Wake heads to the Northeast to take on Boston College and Syracuse.

Notre Dame (7, 7-1-0, 3-0 ACC)A last-gasp goal pushed the Irish past Syracuse 1-0, keeping Notre Dame perfect in conference play.

Following their victory over North Carolina in Week 4, the Irish bossed their ACC home-opener against Syracuse, but struggled to create more than a handful of meaningful opportunities all night. Notre Dame had a golden chance in the first half as Lauren Bohaboy, parked in front of goal on a corner kick, had a mis-cleared ball lofted to her, but her off-balance header was cleared off the line by Syracuse defender Rachel Blum. Fighting till the end, the final opportunity would come off another set piece, as Morgan Andrews’ free-kick service from well outside the top-left corner of the box swung in on the Orange net. Goalkeeper Brittany Anghel punched the ball out as it appeared to be headed just under the crossbar, creating chaos in front of the net as a pile of bodies tried to recover the loose ball. Outside back Brittany Von Rueden managed to keep the play alive in the box and centerback Sammy Scofield glanced it off her head into the net with three seconds left in regulation for the win.

The Irish continue their four-game homestand, hosting Maryland and Pitt in the coming week.

Florida (8, 7-1-1, 1-0 SEC)Started SEC play with a 3-0 victory over Alabama on Friday.

This week on The Savannah Jordan Show….. Friday’s result against lowly Alabama brought another brace from rookie Jordan, her fourth multi-goal performance in eight games to give her 10 on the season. Her first came off a set piece as Havana Solaun’s corner kick dropped in the box and the freshman pounced on it to open the scoring for the Gators. Jordan’s second came with the forward hanging along the ‘Bama backline, where she received a ball directly through from freshman Meggie Dougherty Howard. Before the Alabama defense could collapse on her, Jordan turned and fired her shot into the back of the net. With Taylor Burke back in goal, the defense had another strong showing, clamping down on Dutch international Pia Rijsdijk who could only manage two shots all game, although one required a spectacular save from the keeper, en route to their fifth clean sheet in six games since their loss to Florida State.

Florida faces a pair of tough customers this week as the Gators head to Oxford on Friday to take on one-loss Ole Miss, before continuing on to face Missouri in a nationally-televised matchup.

Penn State (9, 7-1-1, 1-0 Big 10)Came from two down to beat Northwestern 3-2 in 2OT.

Northwestern were headed for only their third win in 23 tries against Penn State on Friday, up two goals with just over ten minutes left. The PSU defense continued bleeding goals as they spotted Wildcat forward Kate Allen a score less than four minutes in to go down against a team that had only scored seven times in their previous eight games. Allen hit the net again in the 78th minute, but an immediate response from the home side led to goals from Whitney Church and Maya Hayes to spare the Nittany Lions an early embarrassment against the two-win Wildcats. Tied at two in the second overtime, it was Church again coming to the rescue with just over three minutes left, driving a shot from 20 yards out to conclude a dramatic start to their Big 10 conference season.

Penn State has a rare Thursday game against Purdue at home and stays at Jeffrey Field to host Indiana on Sunday.

Georgetown (10, 8-0-1)Tied Central Florida 1-1 and beat UConn 2-1.

The Hoyas dropped points for the first time this season in a tight contest against an evenly-matched UCF side. The Hoyas drew first blood just past the halfway mark in the opening half when Kailey Blain finished Daphne Corboz’s cross from 12 yards out. The visitors from Orlando struck back at the end of the half, though, as former Auburn Tiger Tatiana Coleman converted her second PK in as many games. Even on shots with ten, the Hoyas had a 90% shots-on-target rate, but the two teams ended with a draw at the conclusion of overtime.

Daphne Corboz opened the scoring on Sunday against UConn in the 23rd minute, netting her third in an injury-shortened season with a hard shot to the lower-left corner of the net. The Huskies got back in it late, with a goal in the 73rd minute, but Kaitlin Brenn’s goal with just under six minutes to play put the Hoyas in the lead for good.

Georgetown begin their quest for a Big East title at home this week with matches against DePaul and Xavier.

BYU (11, 5-2-1) – Turned a shocking 2-goal first-half deficit to Oklahoma around in the last seven minutes of the game to win 3-2 in Provo. The Cougars bombed their opponents all night, but couldn’t find a way through until defender Ella Johnson scored to trigger a colossal Sooner meltdown. Goals from Paige Hunt on a PK and a game-winner from Jaiden Thornock sent upset-minded Oklahoma home empty-handed. There were no heroics on Saturday, though, as the Cougars lost to Long Beach State 1-0 off a free kick from Mimi Rangel in the 14th minute. BYU only managed nine shots on the 49ers including another close one from Cloee Colohan, who has already seen a number of superb shots bounce off the framework this year. The good news for the Cougars is they still have ranked teams in Denver and Baylor over the next two weeks, so the opportunity to make up ground is there even before starting WCC play

Cal (12, 6-0-2) – Tied away at #22 Santa Clara as the hosts outgunned the Bears, but better finishing on less chances kept the game level after 110. Forward Rachel Mercik chipped Andi Tostanoski in the 25th minute off a feed from Ifeoma Onumonu as California, on defense up to that point, put their first chance of the match away to take the lead. The Cal offense was livelier in the second half, nearly matching the Broncos’ output of 11 shots in the half, but the home side eventually netted the leveler as keeper Emily Kruger, who notched a career-high 11 saves, saw one of her stops rebound to defender Sarah Jackson who put it past her. Cal dropped a 2-0 lead on Sunday to St. Mary’s, allowing the Gaels to even it up midway through the second half, before cruising to a 4-2 victory with a hat-trick off the bench from Samantha Witteman.

Baylor (13, 7-0-2) – Friday’s game against North Texas was canceled due to heavy rains, so the Bears’ only match of the weekend was a 2-0 win over Boise State. The game marked the team’s eighth shutout of the season as they head into the Big 12 conference season on Friday, facing Oklahoma at home.

Denver (14, 7-1-1) – The Pioneers dropped points for the first time this year in a 1-1 tie away at TCU on Friday. After going down a goal in the 25th minute, Denver countered seven minutes later on a free kick taken outside the box that set up Sam Harder’s equalizer. The Pioneers were unable to put the game to bed, though, as the offense couldn’t manage even a single shot on target after halftime, despite tallying 20 shots in the game. Sunday’s game against Big 10 side Nebraska dealt another blow as Denver tasted defeat for the first time this season in a 2-1 loss. The game was scoreless through 73 minutes when Kristen Hamilton got the Pioneers on the board with a goal that made her the all-time points leader for her school. The celebration didn’t last long, though, as the Cornhuskers scored seconds later to put the game back on even terms, then sunk the Pioneers five minutes later with the game-winning goal. On their way down the charts, Denver will face another out-of-sorts ranked opponent as they travel to Provo to face BYU in the coming week.

Michigan (15, 7-1-0, 1-0 Big 10) – Michigan started their Big 10 conference season on the road against a perfect Iowa side. Nkem Ezurike stroked a shot into the upper 90 in the 22nd minute for the game’s opening goal in a half that featured little in the way of clear opportunities. The undefeated Hawkeyes didn’t come alive until the second half when Cloe Lacasse clanged a shot from distance off the crossbar. Iowa leveled it later as Bri Toelle sent an endline cross in on goal from the left side which went through freshman keeper Taylor Bucklin‘s hands, popping over her head and into the opposite side of the net. The Wolverines wouldn’t let the scoreline stand for long as Ezurike, crowded in the Iowa box, headed a free-kick service out wide, where Kayla Mannino one-touched it, lofting a beautiful shot from an acute angle over the head of the Iowa keeper to seal a 2-1 win.

Portland (16, 6-1-1) – Traveled to California where they took a 2-1 victory away from San Diego State. The Aztecs claimed the lead in the first half, but senior Micaela Capelle got the Pilots even 12 seconds into the second half after pressuring the San Diego backline from the whistle. Ellen Parker then grabbed the game-winner after a shot from Allison Wetherington bounced out to Parker who finished the job.

South Carolina (17, 7-1-1, 0-1 SEC) – The lack of offense finally came home to roost for the Gamecocks as SEC rivals Georgia gave South Carolina a big 0-2 away reality check. Against the run of play early, the Bulldogs muscled through the Carolina defense on an endline run six minutes in and red-hot freshman Marion Crowder put the cross in from close range. That unfamiliar feeling of being scored on came again for Gamecock goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo as Georgia’s Laura Eddy put another one in just past the 30-minute mark, tagging South Carolina with their first loss in their only game of the weekend.

Duke (18, 4-4-2, 1-2-1 ACC) – Fell on the road to #6 Wake Forest 3-1 despite being virtually even in shots and shots-on-goal. Laura Weinberg scored her first of the season to level the game before the Deacs pulled away. Sunday’s contest should have been easier on the Blue Devils, but Syracuse came back from a 2-0 Duke lead to take the beleaguered Devils the distance with neither team being able to break the 2-2 draw after 110 minutes.

Texas Tech (19, 8-1-0) – The Red Raiders cruised to their seventh clean sheet of the season with a 3-0 win over UC Davis on Friday. Sophomores Alli Murphy and Caity Heap put Texas Tech on the board in a one-sided first half as they outshot the Aggies 13-1 through 45 minutes of play. With the win Texas Tech should be on their way up the polls for their best ranking in school history.

Texas A&M (20, 5-3-1, 0-1 SEC) – The highly-touted Aggies have already dropped points in Week 1 of SEC play as Caroline Brown and Tennessee took advantage of a foul in the box to convert a PK for the game’s only score. From the outset of the second half, it was nearly all Aggies as the team took 11 shots on the Lady Vols, trying to salvage a point, but Tennessee’s strong backline held it together to weather the storm. The lone game this week means Texas A&M will have to sit on their hands until next Friday when they host two theoretically easy games against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

Maryland (21, 4-2-0) – Lost to #23 Virginia Tech 0-2 in a game that was a bit tighter on the pitch than it was on the scoresheet. Both teams had chances early on in the first half, but it was the Hokies who finished off a set pieces in the 38th minute. The Terps could have knotted it up early in the second half when a handball inside the box gave Maryland a chance to shoot from the spot, but Ashley Spivey’s PK was blocked by Hokie keeper Dayle Colpitts. The home side pressed for the draw, but a late push left them open for a counter leading to Virginia Tech’s second goal in the 88th minute. Sunday’s game against Wake Forest went up early off Hayley Brock’s fourth minute goal

Santa Clara (22, 4-3-1) – Had a home 1-1 draw against #12 Cal in which the Broncos stayed on the accelerator most of the match, only to see Cal take their first shot on goal in the 25th minute to claim the lead. Sofia Huerta and Julie Johnston led the team with seven shots each as the potent offense put up nearly double the shots and shots-on-goal as their higher-ranked opponents. In the end, defender Sarah Jackson was the hero of the day as she put a shot deflected off the keeper into the back of the net with 15 minutes left in regulation. The Broncos didn’t make Sunday’s high-profile matchup against #2 Stanford very easy on themselves, going down moments in as keeper Andi Tostanoski misjudged a set-piece missile from Taylor Uhl. Julie Johnston got SCU back in it with a spectacular volley from outside the upper-left corner of the box. The Broncos had another great opportunity as Huerta went on a slalom run, using Cardinal defenders as flags, to find an open Morgan Marlborough on the other side of the box in acres of space. The Nebraska transfer pulled her shot wide, though, and the teams were tied at the half. With overtime on the horizon near the end of the second half, Huerta took advantage of a Card mis-clear, bending a gorgeous shot from the outside of the box into the upper 90 for an apparent game-winner. On the verge of a season-defining win, another Bronco mistake cost the home side dearly as defender Cali Reis committed a needless foul with a shove in the penalty box, setting up a tying goal and sending the contest to overtime where Courtney Verloo put the finishing touches on a hat-trick at SCU’s expense.

Virginia Tech (23, 8-1-1, 3-1-0 ACC) – A quiet blip on the ACC radar, the Hokies beat #21 Maryland 2-0 on Thursday and Boston College 1-0 on Sunday. Jazmine Reeves knocked in her fourth in six games against Maryland and Katie Yensen’s penatly kick two minutes in was all the team would need to vanquish BC.

Wisconsin (24, 6-1-1, 1-0 Big 10) – The Badgers’ Wednesday game against Green Bay was canceled, so Wisconsin’s 3-1 win on the road against Purdue was their only result of the week. The Boilermakers erased a Wisconsin goal off a defensive miscue early in the second and the two teams stayed even until the last six minutes when the Badgers struck for two to give them a victory in their first Big 10 matchup. The real test comes on Friday when Wisconsin travels to Ann Arbor to take on a Wolverines squad with Big 10 Championship potential.

West Virginia (25, 6-2-2) – Shutout Richmond 2-0 on Friday and defeated two-win Wright State 4-1 on Sunday. Offensive leaders Kate Schwindel and Frances Silva each netted goals Sunday while Silva also posted a trio of assists. WVU starts their Big 12 season with two very difficult road tests away at Oklahoma State and Baylor.

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