Week 7 wasn’t a great one for the Top 10 as four of the teams among the nation’s elite were tagged with losses (and all but one of those against unranked opponents). Along with those losses, several conference races got a little more interesting as well. Unscathed and still perfect after 12 games, the Virginia Cavaliers still have the best record in the nation:
Virginia (1, 12-0-0, 6-0 ACC) – Perfect through a dozen now, the Cavaliers were too much for the visiting Clemson Tigers, beating them easily 3-0.
Clemson came into Charlottesville flying high having taken a point off No. 5 FSU the previous week. The Cavaliers were quick to dampen that spirit, though, jumping out of the gates as Morgan Brian dove to head home the first goal in the third minute, making another Tiger upset already look unlikely. Although the country’s best offense outgunned Clemson in the first half, the team couldn’t finish its chances, putting their remaining 11 shots everywhere but in the back of the net. In the 51st minute, Danielle Colaprico pounced on a loose ball off a failed Tiger clearance in the box, drilling it past the keeper for the second of the day. Makenzy Doniak’s superb sophomore campaign gathered more steam as the forward lobbed a shot off defender Molly Menchel’s through-ball over the keeper for the third goal and her 10th of the season. Neither team registered a shot over the next 25 minutes as coach Steve Swanson rotated a number of bench players in to get some meaningful minutes before closing out the game. Behind the sparkling offense, the Virginia back line returned to their quality form, recording their second consecutive shutout after a string of three straight in which they gave up a goal.
Virginia’s next week will be their biggest test of the conference season yet, hosting No. 4 Notre Dame, then traveling to Winston-Salem to face No. 13 Wake Forest.
Stanford (2, 9-1-1, 2-1 Pac-12) – Won in overtime 2-1 over Arizona, but fell short against Arizona State on Sunday in a 0-1 loss at home.
For the fourth time this season, the Cardinal had to settle their differences in overtime, getting a tough 2-1 result off the Wildcats of Arizona. Although the visitors took the fight to the Cardinal in the first half, outshooting their hosts 13-7, it was Stanford that struck first as Megan Turner scored off a header in the 37th minute. Conversely, the Cardinal dominated the second half, yet conceded a goal against the run of play as Arizona’s Emily Lai cleaned up a deflected shot from Alexandra Doller to level the score. Twice this season Stanford have scored a golden goal to secure a victory and the Wildcats became the third victim of the Cardinal’s uncanny clutch scoring. This time it was Taylor Uhl in the spotlight as the Minnesota transfer scored her 10th of the season, netting a long service from Laura Liedle with seconds left in the first overtime period.
The fanfare on the Farm would only last a day as Sunday brought another tough Arizona opponent, this time the Sun Devils of Arizona State. The odds were heavily against the visitors, who held a 3-10-3 record against the Cardinal going into the match, with the last win coming in 2003 when most of Sunday’s players were still in elementary school. On the tail end of a California road trip, ASU had already lost to No. 11 Cal on Friday and carried a modest 6-4 record into Palo Alto, where the home team hadn’t lost a game since 2007 — a span of 73 games. Friday’s first half struggles with the Wildcat attack drew attention to a deficiency in the Stanford defense, and, again, the Cardinal conceded a number of shots to their guests early, with the Sun Devils riding a 5-3 shot advantage after the first 20 minutes.
In the 24th minute, ASU finally breached the goal line. Sophomore Sara Tosti, dribbling just outside the perimeter, served a 20-plus-yard shot over keeper Jane Campbell who, playing out in front of the goal, stood rooted to the ground as the ball sailed over her head and under the crossbar. Down a goal at the half, Stanford came out determined to protect their home turf, firing 13 shots in the half, but were stonewalled by the Sun Devil defense and, in particular, the inspired performance of keeper Chandler Morris who tallied seven saves in the game, five in the second half barrage, as Cardinal bullets rained in from every direction. Desperate for the victory, the Cardinal threw everything at the ASU backline, but the Sun Devils achieved the unthinkable, pulling out a 1-0 victory on the road over the No. 2 team in the country. With a somewhat favored UCLA team on tap next, the Sun Devils stole the Bruins’ potential thunder and ended the Cardinal’s 73-match home unbeaten streak (the second longest in NCAA D1 history) and 44-match conference unbeaten streak.
At the risk of over-dramatizing Stanford’s upcoming contest against arch-rival UCLA, the winner of the annual derby has not only gone on to win the Pac-12/10 conference for the last seven years, but has also finished the season no worse than the College Cup semifinal over that same stretch. Seriously, though, no pressure, it’s just one game.
UCLA (3, 10-1-0, 2-0 Pac-12) – Had a 2-0 win at home to Washington State on Friday and still have a result to come on Monday against the Washington Huskies as of this writing.
The Bruins halted an unbeaten streak of their own, toppling the underrated Washington State Cougars for the first time this year. A tough defensive battle in the first half, the Bruins finally took charge in the second through substitute Courtney Proctor. The redshirt sophomore scored her first career goal for the Bruins in the second half, punctuating a corner kick served to the far post with a powerful strike straight through the Cougar defender on the goal line. Outside back Caprice Dydasco assisted in the second goal, dashing down the left flank where she connected with Darian Jenkins, knifing through the Cougar back line to easily one-time her shot past into the net. The defense kept its seventh clean sheet of the season and contained an excellent goal-scorer in Micaela Castain, limiting the forward to just three shots on the day and only one on goal.
Many have said this will finally be UCLA’s year to reverse Stanford’s four-year vice-grip on the Pac-12 title. On Thursday we’ll find out as the Bruins travel to Palo Alto. Last year, the Cardinal crushed the Bruins’ hopes twice, once in the regular season and once in the NCAA quarterfinals to end UCLA’s season. After that, it’s no sleep ‘till Berkeley as the Bruins stay on the road to face likely their second top-10 opponent of the weekend in an ascendent Cal.
Notre Dame (4, 9-2-1, 5-1-1 ACC) – Perfect through five in their inaugural ACC season, the Irish had their first conference stumbles this week, drawing with No. 13 Wake Forest in South Bend and losing 0-2 on the road to Miami on Sunday.
Although only the fourth time the Irish and Deacs have faced each other in program history, their last meeting was hardly a distant memory as the two teams collided last November in the NCAA Tournament 2nd Round in which 15 of Thursday’s 22 starters suited up. This one played out like a couple of familiar heavyweights going toe-to-toe, with both sides throwing a few testing jabs, but lacking any real force. Remarkably, despite 110 minutes of play, all the scoring occurred within a space of 56 seconds as the Irish drew first blood in the 76th minute through Karin Simonian only to take one on the chin in the 77th minute as Kendall Fischlein cleaned up a pass from Katie Stengel across the box to level it at one-all.
Reunited for the first time since Miami left the Big East at the end of the 2003 season, the Hurricanes welcomed the Irish back to Coral Gables and ungraciously bounced them for their first loss in ACC play. Scoreless after the first 45 minutes in which neither team truly established a foothold in the game, forward Ashley Flinn put the ‘Canes up seven minutes into the second half and struck again with seven minutes left in the game to stun the visiting Irish for the first time in the series’ history.
Next up, Notre Dame head back out on another long journey, meeting No. 1 Virginia in Charlottesville, then rolling on to Blacksburg to battle No. 12 Virginia Tech.
Florida State (5, 10-0-3, 5-0-2 ACC) – Came from two down to beat Boston College 4-3 on Thursday.
Thursday’s game was an uncharacteristic display by Florida State in several ways, but for BC it was business as usual, unfortunately. The Eagles took a first half lead against a Top 10 opponent for the fourth time this season when McKenzie Meehan struck twice to expose the Seminoles’ infamously-stingy defense. It was the first time FSU had allowed more than a goal in a game this season. Down 0-2 at the half, Florida State came out with a purpose in the second 45, though, and the Eagles’ defense would fold like a house of cards under the pressure. Carson Pickett started the rally just over 10 minutes into the half and Irish international Megan Campbell’s tape measure throw-in caused havoc for the BC defenders, leading to an Eagles own-goal in the 56th minute. The Seminoles took the lead through Berglind Thorvaldsdottir, but surprisingly gave it up just over five minutes later off a BC free kick. Florida State would ultimately have the final say when a takedown inside the box gave Marta Bakowska-Mathews a penalty kick which the English midfielder slotted home for the final score in a wild seven-goal match.
The Seminoles play two of the ACC’s newest members next, heading up north to Syracuse to face the Orange, then returning to Tallahassee Sunday to host Pitt.
North Carolina (6, 10-2-0, 4-0 ACC) – Came back from an early deficit to beat Maryland in Chapel Hill 3-1 on Sunday.
Maryland knocked the Tar Heels back just 17 seconds in as a long pass down the right flank allowed Hayley Brock’s speed to carve open the UNC defense. Brock crossed to freshman Lauren Berman on the near side of the box, who took it on the bounce, across her body, shooting into the opposite side of the net past keeper Bryane Heaberlin to put the Terrapins up by a goal. The Carolina engine didn’t take long to warm up, though, and the Heels immediately went on the offensive. Summer Green equalized just over 20 minutes in, converting a penalty kick from a Maryland handball in the box.
Crystal Dunn and Kealia Ohai were dangerous all match, taking five and six shots, respectively, and the two combined to put UNC in front 13 minutes into the second half. Dunn went in hard to steal a ball away from Maryland defender Shade Pratt, no small feat in and of itself, just outside the box. Driving inside the perimeter, she dished it off for Ohai in space who took a few light steps then guided it past Terp keeper Rachelle Beanlands. The deadly senior combination of Dunn and Ohai have now accounted for 35 of the Heels’ 78 points for the season.
Defender Satara Murray scored her first goal of the season with just under 18 minutes left as the defender made space in front of goal on a set piece, redirecting the ball off her head just inside the far post. Murray got the job done on the other end as well, putting in a typical hard, physical shift in defense which was crystallized minutes later as Brock made a powerful drive into the box. Murray matched her breakaway stride-for-stride, though, clearing the ball off her feet just before the Terp forward could pull the trigger, preserving the 3-1 victory. Come-from-behind triumph aside, Tar Heel faithful can also take joy in the return to action of both Alexa Newfield and Amber Munerlyn, who took to the pitch after injuries sidelined both players for a few weeks.
North Carolina have NC State to deal with on Thursday before making the trip up to Newton, Mass. to call on a Boston College team that just thrashed Duke 4-1.
Penn State (7, 10-2-1, 4-1 Big 10) – Splitting two road contests, PSU beat Wisconsin 2-1, but couldn’t find a way through Minnesota’s defense in a 0-1 loss.
Two goals in the middle of the first half gave the Nittany Lions some breathing room in a fairly even match in Madison. Tani Costa opened the scoring with just at 31 minutes on the clock, punching one in just under the keeper from close range. Maya Hayes followed up four minutes afterward with a goal off a header for her 13th of the season. The Badgers pressed to get back in it and eventually found a way through PSU’s somewhat porous backline, but the visitors clamped down after that to preserve the victory.
In a conference in which defense is so critical, the Nittany Lions still have not pitched a shutout through five conference matches and this time it cost them. A goal from Haley Helverson in the 18th minute gave Minnesota the advantage and the Golden Gophers weathered a 20-shot offensive storm from Penn State in which five different Lions had three or more chances for glory. The loss, the Lions’ first in conference play, marked the first time this season the potent PSU attack were held scoreless.
Penn State have a one-game weekend on tap, but it’s a key home fixture against #21 Michigan.
Florida (8, 9-3-1, 3-2 SEC) – Hosting both games this weekend, the Gators lost to No. 18 South Carolina 1-2 in overtime on Friday and rebounded with a 3-0 win over Auburn on Sunday.
A mostly dour first half that saw 34 minutes go by before a shot was taken by either side ended with some fireworks as South Carolina took the lead in the 37th. Florida’s freshman standout Savannah Jordan responded in the final 30 seconds of the half as keeper Sabrina D’Angelo couldn’t cleanly handle Havana Solaun’s cross, which fell in front of Jordan in the box who tidied up the errant ball for her 12th of the season. Still locked at 1-1 by the end of regulation, the two teams went into overtime, where the Gators had a chance to win it with a handful of seconds on the clock. Florida keeper Taylor Burke sent a long service from the center line toward D’Angelo’s goal. The South Carolina keeper again struggled with the flighted ball and Jordan pounced on it, shooting as the last seconds of the first overtime ticked off, but sent the shot wide. Carolina eventually pulled out the victory in the second overtime with two minutes left on the clock. Coupled with the loss to Mizzou the previous week, it marked the first time the Gators have dropped two straight since October 2011, when the Gamecocks defeated Florida in the season finale to win the SEC.
A rematch of the last two SEC Championship finals, the Gators hosted an Auburn side that have yet to win an SEC match this year. Just 16 minutes in, Florida were on the board as forward Savannah Jordan’s header off a corner kick was headed off the line by the Auburn defense, but Slovenian Pamela Begic went in hard over keeper Alicen Wright to head home the goal on a play that took both players out of the game. Jillian Graff added to the lead, running onto a splendid through-ball from midfield, one-timing it with her left foot to send it untouched into the far side of goal. Freshman keeper Nora Neset Gjoen returned in the net to collect her second shutout of the season and the team’s first since the conference opener against Alabama.
The Gators play one road game in the coming week as they go to Starkville to take on Mississippi State.
Georgetown (9, 11-0-2, 3-0-1 Big East) – Shutout Butler 3-0 on Thursday and beat Providence 2-1 on Sunday.
The Hoyas continued to get it done on both sides of the ball against Butler, posting their sixth clean sheet while putting three or more on the board for the seventh time this season. Sarah Adams scored first for Georgetown, knocking home a corner kick from Daphne Corboz early in the first half. Despite being outshot by Butler, the Hoyas built on their advantage with goals from senior Kaitlin Brenn and Colleen Dinn in the second half.
Sunday, the Hoyas played Providence away in Rhode Island and got a pair of second-half goals to stay unbeaten through 13. After a scoreless first half, Georgetown got on the board 30 seconds into the half off Kailey Blain’s shot from the edge of the area. Corboz netted her fifth of the season in the 66th minute to give Georgetown enough cushion to withstand the Friars’ late offensive push.
With both teams having six days to prepare, next Sunday’s showdown in Milwaukee between the Hoyas and the Marquette Golden Eagles, 4-0 in the Big East, should be a tense battle between the two teams expected to challenge for the conference championship.
Portland (10, 9-1-1, 1-0 WCC) – Opened their WCC season with a 1-0 win in California against Pacific on Saturday.
Overall, the Pilots’ attack was somewhat underwhelming against one-win Pacific, creating only eight scoring opportunities all match and putting just four of those on target. Micaela Capelle has been white-hot of late, though, and the forward scored her eighth of the season to propel the Pilots 1-0 over Pacific. Returning to the pitch after an injury-marred 2012, Capelle has hit a brilliant run of form in her senior season, scoring seven times over the last five games as Portland are now on a six-game winning streak.
Returning to California in the coming week, the Pilots have Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine up next.
Cal (11, 9-0-3, 2-0-1 Pac-12) – A pair of 2-1 home victories over a pair of Arizona opponents gave the Golden Bears a six-point weekend in the Pac-12. Kaitlynn Fitzpatrick scored both goals for the Bears in a 2-1 victory over Arizona State on Friday and Cal put up another 2-1 result as they defeated the University of Arizona 2-1 Sunday. Rachel Mercik’s goal three minutes in held up until the beginning of the second half when the Wildcats drew level. Scoring leader Ifeoma Onumonu netted her eighth of the season in the 72nd minute to continue the Bears’ 12-game unbeaten streak this season. It will be a real test for Cal to keep the wins coming with USC and No. 3 UCLA coming to Berkeley next.
Virginia Tech (12, 10-1-2, 5-1-1 ACC) – For the second game in a row, the Hokies went beyond the allotted 90 minutes, but were able to emerge victorious as a goal from Kate Yensen just 44 seconds into overtime ended a scoreless draw between the Hokies and Clemson. With the win, VaTech now sit fourth in the conference and have a chance to move up as they face Notre Dame, currently one spot ahead in the ACC standings, on Sunday in Blacksburg.
Wake Forest (13, 8-2-2, 3-2-2 ACC) – The Demon Deacons got a desperately-needed lifeline in the ACC, tying No. 4 Notre Dame in South Bend 1-1 on Thursday. Kendall Fischlein quickly snuffed out the Irish momentum in the second half, getting a goal less than a minute after the Irish opened the scoring, and the two teams stayed level after 110 minutes. The Deacs have been up and down all season, but will have to be at their peak as the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers come to town for Wake’s next match.
Texas Tech (14, 12-1-1, 2-0-1 Big 12) – Friday the Red Raiders hosted Texas Christian and got two first-half goals to win 2-0. Sunday was Senior Day in Lubbock and the Red Raiders wisely scheduled non-conference SWAC opponent Arkansas-Pine Bluff to ensure the elder players went home smiling. As one would expect, the outcome was a lopsided 8-0 pummeling and seven different players found the back of the net, two of them seniors. Texas Tech has Oklahoma on the horizon as they return to Big 12 play, then a big matchup on the road against No. 20 Baylor.
West Virginia (15, 9-2-2, 3-0 Big 12) – Mountaineer forward Frances Silva scored both goals in Friday’s 2-1 win over Texas, including a shot 30 seconds into the second half that proved to be the decisive score. West Virginia’s win streak extends to five straight and the Mountaineers sit atop the conference standings early in the season.
Denver (16, 10-1-1, 1-0 Summit) – Saturday’s 4-0 win against two-win Fort Wayne was an easy start to the Pioneers’ Summit Conference season. Four different players got on the board for the team, including scoring leaders Kristen Hamilton and Nicholette DiGiacomo who notched their eighth and sixth goals of the season, respectively.
Santa Clara (17, 6-3-1) – Inactive in the current week, the Broncos begin their conference schedule on Thursday against San Diego then host No. 22 BYU on Saturday.
Wisconsin (18, 8-2-2, 3-1-1 Big 10) – Despite going down by two goals to Penn State in the first half, the Badgers were tenacious in their efforts to get on level terms. After a few crossbar shots in the first half, Rose Lavelle finally pulled one back in the 65th minute when she finished off a blocked shot. Unfortunately, the Badger offense were unable to muster a single shot afterward, dropping the game at home 1-2. Staying in Madison, the Badgers had the defending tournament champion Buckeyes to deal with on Sunday and they stretched Ohio State to 98 minutes before Nikki Greenhalgh’s goal finally found a hole in the defense to win 1-0.
South Carolina (19, 11-1-1, 4-1 SEC) – SC were shockingly good to start the season, going undefeated on the merits of a watertight defense until the loss to Georgia at the outset of SEC play. Coming off a dismal 2012 which was preceded by the program’s first-ever league title in 2011, many were wondering which Gamecocks team we were seeing in ’13. Friday’s potentially season-defining result against No. 8 Florida may have settled any doubts. Despite having minimal scoring opportunities, the Gamecocks made the best of them, opening the scoring in the 38th minute through Bay Daniel’s goal, then netting the game-winner in double-overtime as Taylor Leach hit a diving header off a corner kick to upset the Gators in Gainesville.
The grueling road test carried on to Knoxville on Sunday, where South Carolina grabbed another crucial three-pointer in overtime against Tennessee. One of the more exciting scoreless draws you’re likely to see, the Volunteer defense, led by keeper Julie Eckel in net, had their hands full all day as the Gamecocks stayed on attack for much of the game. Eckel made a number of spectacular stops and got a huge save from defender Megan Erskine, who had a brilliant goal-line clearance in the second half after Eckel tipped a cross into the path of Carolina forward Raina Johnson for a clear look at goal. Daniel featured again on attack and, but if not for the heroics of Eckel, would have had a few more points to add to her resume. It was diminutive forward Johnson, though, who would strike for the golden goal just moments into overtime, splitting through the Vol defense toward the endline, where she burst ahead off a shoulder challenge to cross the ball far-post, beating Eckel and securing the precious road win.
Baylor (20, 8-2-2, 1-1 Big 12) – Suffered their second defeat in a row, losing 1-2 to BYU at home. Bri Campos led the Bear attack with five shots and squared things up after the Cougars took a first-half lead in the 52nd minute with a nicely-taken free kick. The loss wrapped up a six-game homestand as they travel to Austin to face Texas on Friday, then return home to Waco where they’ll host No. 14 Texas Tech.
Michigan (21, 9-2-1, 3-1-1 Big 10) – The Wolverines needed a perfect weekend after taking only one point from the previous round to keep a Big 10 title dream on track. A 2-1 win in Friday’s afternoon derby against Michigan State got things off to a good start as the Maize and Blue got goals from Christina Murillo’s free kick service from 30-35 yards out and Meghan Toohey’s 18-yard near-post laser. The Wolverines carried their momentum into Lincoln for Sunday’s match against a surprising No. 23 Nebraska team to earn another 2-1 road win. After a scoreless first half, Michigan scored twice in quick succession as senior Nkem Ezurike and freshman Madi Lewis teamed up off Lewis’s cross from the left found Ezurike unguarded to put the Wolverines in front. The highly-touted Michigan rookie scored one of her own minutes later after some confusion in the box off a throw-in eventually fell to Lewis, who notched her fourth of the season. The Wolverines are back in the hunt now, but next face a Penn State side with a chip on their shoulder following their first conference loss.
BYU (22, 6-3-1) – Coming off consecutive 0-1 losses over two weeks that bounced Brigham Young from No. 11 to their current spot, the Cougars desperately needed a quality victory and got it in Waco, surviving a tough road test against No. 20 Baylor, 2-1, on Friday. Cloee Colohan’s free kick 30 minutes in got the Cougars on the board, but Baylor negated the goal with a set piece score of their own. BYU sealed the victory on a well-worked sequence with 20 minutes left, ending in a superb strike from Colette Jepson Smith from a tight angle inside the far post. The West Coast Conference season begins this week for BYU as they travel to San Francisco on Thursday, then get another shot at a ranked opponent, facing No. 17 Santa Clara on the road Saturday.
Nebraska (23, 9-3-1, 4-1 Big 10) – Expectations for this season in Lincoln weren’t all that high as the Cornhuskers were near the bottom of the Big 10 Coaches’ Poll before the season started, but Nebraska have persevered and find themselves ranked among the top teams in the country. With a six-game winning streak entering the weekend, including a key victory over then-No. 14 Denver, the Cornhuskers looked poised to make a remarkable dark horse run for the Big 10 title. A 2-1 win over Iowa on Friday continued the winning streak to seven, but Michigan proved to be too much for the upstart Cornhuskers, defeating them 1-2 on Sunday.
UCF (24, 10-2-1, 3-0 AAC) – In her first season as head coach, Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak has the Knights off to a great start in the newly-minted AAC and back into the Top 25 on a nine-game unbeaten run. The Knights won big on Friday, defeating a strong UConn team, 4-1. With a 1-0 lead coming out of the locker room at the half, Central Florida erupted for three goals in just over two minutes early in the second half to leave the Huskies in the rearview mirror. The 4-1 scoreline suited the Knights just fine, so they posted the same result on Sunday against a tough, defensive Temple side. This time the team didn’t wait until the second half to put the game beyond reach, scoring three first half goals while peppering the Owls for 14 shots in the half.
Mississippi (25, 10-3-1, 3-2 SEC) – The 25 spot has been a jinx for the revolving door of SEC teams to hold the tail-end position as Arkansas, Kentucky, and now Ole Miss have all lost a game the week after breaking into the poll. Ole Miss’ uninspiring 0-3 Friday loss to the Vols in Knoxville won’t help the Rebels’ cause, but a 3-1 turnaround in Athens after going down just two minutes in against Georgia may be enough to keep them ranked. The usual suspects were responsible for the scoring on Sunday, with Rafaelle Souza netting a brace off a pair of jaw-dropping finishes from acute angles while Mandy McCalla got on record with the game-winner as the pair have now accounted for 22 of the team’s 39 goals.
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