It’s Week 8 in the NCAA and there was more drama than you can shake a stick at as a pair of overtime thrillers on Thursday involving four Top 10 schools set the stage for a week of make-or-break results for many high-profile teams. Virginia continued to tear the ACC apart like warm bread and UCLA survived a daunting road test against their Pac-12 rivals, but Stanford, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Penn State all were bested by lower- or unranked teams this weekend.
Virginia (1, 14-0-0, 7-0 ACC) – Defeated No. 9 Notre Dame 3-2 in 2 OT and No. 14 Wake Forest 2-0 on Sunday.
Under the Thursday Night Lights of Klockner Stadium, the Cavaliers staked their perfect record against No. 9 Notre Dame’s proud tradition as the Irish hoped to knock off their second No. 1 team of the season. The nearly 3000 fans that braved the stormy weather were probably thinking this was going to be yet another UVA rout as Gloria Douglas’s fourth-minute falling header from a probing Virginia build-up opened the scoring. The Fighting Irish did indeed fight back, though, as left back Elizabeth Tucker collected freshman Morgan Andrews’ snap-header off the post for an easy tap in to level the game 21 minutes later. Rainy conditions worsened throughout the match and, with rookie goalkeepers on each side, it could’ve been a recipe for disaster, but Virginia’s Morgan Stearns and Notre Dame’s Kaela Little have established themselves as two of the best in the nation and each had excellent games between the posts in spite of overwhelming pressure. With moments left in the half, Morgan Brian twice fired quick-strike shots at Little and you just got the feeling Brian would have a huge say in the match before the night was over.
Level at the half, each team came out with a renewed purpose, but the Irish would blink first. Less than five minutes in, center back Katie Naughton went up against Morgan Brian for a header in front of goal with the Irish defender winning the ball. To her dismay, Naughton redirected the ball off her head and into the back of the net for an own goal to give the lead back to Virginia. Tucker would again come through for her team, saving her teammate’s blushes as yet another cross into the box found the senior sprinting in the box where she deflected the ball off her midsection as she ran onto it, sending it past Stearns for her second goal of the match. Still tied at two-all nearly 30 minutes later, the home side would finally quell the Irish riot in double-overtime, as Morgan Brian, probably the best player in the country not named Crystal Dunn, made her final, definitive statement of the game as she headed home the golden goal off a corner with 101 minutes on the clock. The ball caromed off Tucker, guarding the near post, and deflected to Kaleigh Olmstead, on the opposite side, who pirouetted to kick the ball out of the goal mouth, apparently saving the game. The referees had little hesitation in claiming the ball had fully crossed the line and awarded the match to the Cavs as Brian sprinted and her teammates exploded in joyous celebration.
With No. 14 Wake Forest next on the calendar, now featuring both Katie Stengel and Rachel Nuzzolese on the bench, there wasn’t much for the Virginia backline to do as Sunday’s game was more a question of how long the Deacs’ stout defense could withstand the Cavs’ dazzling attack. It took the majority of the first half for the tired UVA players to get going, but it was again the fresh legs of super-sub Brittany Ratcliffe who came through, scoring in the 36th minute for her eighth goal of the season, all coming off the bench. The Cavaliers struck while the iron was hot, netting the second goal of the game just over five minutes later as Alexis Shaffer collected a header off a corner kick on the far post to knock it past keeper Aubrey Bledsoe.
Virginia’s tour of North Carolina takes them next to Raleigh to face NC State leading up to Sunday’s Clash of the Titans as the Cavaliers will try to make it four straight games against the Tar Heels without a loss.
UCLA (2, 12-1-1, 4-0-1 Pac-12) – Drew 0-0 at home with Washington, then went on the road to beat No. 5 Stanford 2-1 in 2 OT on Thursday and No. 8 Cal 1-0 on Sunday.
The Bruins persevered through a tough seven-day stretch, facing Washington, Stanford and Cal with just two days of separation between the fixtures. Head coach Amanda Cromwell rested a number of key starters for Monday’s contest against the Huskies, but got dragged into double-overtime, effectively nullifying that strategy. The game ended in a scoreless draw despite an overwhelming offensive advantage for UCLA and could’ve easily killed any momentum the Bruins had going into Thursday’s high-profile match against an “underdog” Stanford.
Thursday’s match in Palo Alto was a thriller as advertised. Samantha Mewis had a chance to break the scoreline early with a free kick just outside the box, but Stanford’s Jane Campbell tipped the ball just enough to put it off the post and recovered the loose ball on the line. Still deadlocked after an hour, a quick counter from UCLA in the 62nd minute off goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland’s quick dish out to Taylor Smith sent the forward off to the races, sprinting nearly the full distance of the pitch where she crossed in to Jenna Richmond waiting in the box. Richmond couldn’t quite pull the ball down cleanly with her first touch, but recovered to beat Campbell from just a few yards out. UCLA were in control for most of the match, but just couldn’t see the game out for the full 90 minutes and Stanford scored with 1:33 left on the clock. Stanford appeared to ride their momentum into overtime, but UCLA would have the final say, stringing together a beautiful passing sequence around Stanford’s box to set up the game-winner. Freshman Lauren Kaskie, subbed on just minutes before, scored what quite possibly might be her most important goal for the Bruins, and not because it was the first of her career, as she launched a rocket shot from outside the 18 that hit the back of the net with a definitive clang that likely still reverberates through the thoughts of the defeated Card.
The victory over Stanford might’ve been the club’s biggest in years and was sweet revenge for the two defeats they suffered last season at the hands of the Cardinal, but there was little time for back-patting as the team traveled to Berkeley on Sunday to face undefeated Cal. The Bruins showed early indications, though, that they weren’t about to let their guard down, jumping on the Golden Bears early for five shots in the first 20 minutes while Cal managed only one. The Bruins struck for the game’s only goal in the 27th minute as a ball crossed into the box by Caprice Dydasco found Sarah Killion near the penalty spot. Killion gave the ball a soft chip back toward the goal, but it was enough as Cal keeper Emily Kruger was wrong-footed and couldn’t recover in time to block the shot. The Bruins were able to hang on despite Cal’s improved offensive performance in the second half to post their tenth clean sheet of the season.
UCLA return home for the coming week’s fixture against the same Arizona State team that dealt Stanford their first Pac-12 defeat in years on Friday.
Florida State (3, 12-0-3, 7-0-2 ACC) – Took down the weakest of the ACC herd, winning on the road against Syracuse 1-0, then returning to Tallahassee to shutout Pitt, 4-0.
The Seminoles rode their sixth 1-0 victory of the season to beat the Orange five minutes into overtime in Syracuse. In the team’s victory over Florida earlier this year, the decisive goal came off a howitzer throw-in from Irish defender Megan Campbell, connecting with Iceland’s Dagny Brynjarsdottir in front of goal. The international duo hooked up again for Thursday’s game-winner, as Campbell’s long service from the sideline again found the head of Brynjarsdottir who scored her fifth of the season.
It seems with FSU, it’s feast or famine on the scoreboard as the team has scored either one goal or four in 12 of their 15 games this season. Sunday’s contest against Pitt was of the higher-scoring variety, with four different Seminoles getting into the act. Pitt could’ve played ten defenders on the day as the poor Panthers didn’t initiate even a single shot while FSU made it rain shots on the other end, sending 31 the way of the beleaguered Pitt defense. The victory established a new mark for the Seminoles’ almanac as it marks the team’s fifteenth consecutive game without a defeat.
Florida State have a week to rest and prepare for next week’s match against Maryland in Tallahassee on Sunday.
North Carolina (4, 12-2-0, 6-2 ACC) – Beat local rival NC State 3-0 on Thursday and Boston College 1-0 on Sunday.
Crystal Dunn’s brace and a goal off the bench from Amber Munerlyn lifted the Tar Heels over NC State on Thursday. The Heels rendered Jackie Stengel and the Wolfpack offense virtually irrelevant as they held the visitors to a single shot through 90 minutes.
Sunday, the Heels were in Massachusetts to face a pesky Boston College team that always seem to play up to their competition and the Eagles dictated much of the play in the first half. Carolina would regroup at the half, altering their strategy to contain the BC offense while doubling their offensive output from the first half. Carolina’s Kelly McFarlane finally broke the deadlock in the 65th minute, taking a cross from Crystal Dunn and driving it into the back of the net for the game’s only score.
Stanford (5, 9-3-1, 2-3 Pac-12) – Lost at home to UCLA 1-2 in double overtime and to USC 0-1 on Sunday.
Palo Alto, we have a problem. Last week, the Cardinal actually looked human against Arizona State, losing a Pac-12 match for the first time in five years, but after this weekend’s pair of defeats, the Cardinal are now in Three Mile Island territory, dropping three in a row for the first time since USC, UCLA and Cal ganged up to beat the Cardinal consecutively back in 1998.
Late heroics have become synonymous with the Stanford name this season as the team seem to never doubt their abilities to pull out a win, so it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when the same Lo’eau LaBonta, who single-handedly led the come-from-behind victory in last year’s NCAA quarterfinal matchup over UCLA, again netted an equalizer against the Bruins on Thursday with a minute and a half left in regulation. Largely second best for most of the match, Stanford were energized by the late goal and used it to put UCLA on their collective back foot immediately into overtime. Just over a minute in, Stanford nearly netted the golden goal, but the Bruin defense cleared the shot off the line and responded immediately with a counter-attack and shot which just went wide off the fingertips of Campbell. Stanford continued to press throughout the overtime period, taking six shots to the Bruins’ one in the first overtime period, but the Bruins would ultimately prevail in double-overtime, handing the Cardinal a matching home loss to go with last week’s disappointment.
USC are no slouch, per se, but a Trojans side that looked decent through the pre-conference season really dropped off the shelf come Pac-12 time, carrying an 0-3-1 record into Sunday’s match in Palo Alto. Timing was on the Women of Troy’s side, though, and they caught a deflated Cardinal team down on confidence and lacking answers following an improbable pair of defeats. Sunday would only get the downward spiral spinning faster as Southern California got a goal from Alex Quincey, a header off a corner which skimmed just over the 5’2” LaBonta guarding the far post, to beat the Card for only the fourth time in program history. The shutout also marks the first time Stanford have been held scoreless twice in a season since 2008.
Coach Paul Ratcliffe will have to circle the wagons and find a way to stop the Cardinal bleeding. The first chance will come at home on Friday against Utah, a team just coming off a dramatic road win over Washington State.
Georgetown (6, 11-1-2, 3-1-1 Big East) – Lost their first game of the season to rival Marquette, 0-4.
The Hoyas were charging like a mad elephant through their schedule until they hit a brick wall in Milwaukee. Not only was Georgetown’s offense held scoreless for the first time this season, but the Golden Eagles scored two goals in each half, matching a total the Hoyas had allowed only once in a single game all season. Marquette earned a trio of Big East awards for their Hoya-stumping performance and now lead the conference standings with Georgetown a distant second.
With little else for competition for either team in the Big East, the Hoyas have a slim chance of making up the ground lost on Sunday, but will try to do so with a pair of home games against St. John’s and Creighton in the coming week.
Portland (7, 10-1-1, 2-0 WCC) – Continued their impressive winning streak with away victories over Loyola Marymount, 2-0, and Pepperdine, 3-1.
Portland dominated the game against LMU, but didn’t get on the board until the 61st minute when a penalty kick set Amanda Frisbie up for her third game-winner of the season. The team stayed in California for their second fixture of the weekend and rolled to their eighth straight win in a 3-1 victory over Pepperdine. Following a scoreless first half, the Pilots would get on the board early in the second half when Micaela Capelle connected with Danica Evans who chipped the keeper to start the scoring. Frisbie netted her second game-winning PK of the weekend five minutes later and, following a Pepperdine penalty kick on the other end, the Pilots would finish the game off on the ensuing restart, as Mikayla Elmer made a beeline for the Waves’ box before dishing off to Noelle La Prevotte for the third and final goal.
Cal (8, 9-1-4, 2-1-2 Pac-12) – Drew with USC and lost to UCLA 0-1.
Cal continued their unbeaten streak against USC on Friday, playing the Trojans to a 1-1 draw off a goal from Rachel Mercik in Berkeley. With league leaders UCLA next up on their homestand, the Golden Bears fought valiantly to remain one of only three unbeaten teams left in the nation, but succumbed to an early offensive barrage from the Bruins to concede defeat off Sarah Killion’s first-half goal.
Fifth overall in the Pac-12 standings, Cal have a single game in the coming week as they conclude a five-match string at home against third-place Colorado.
Notre Dame (9, 9-3-1, 5-2-1 ACC) – Had a pair of late losses in Virginia, dropping an overtime thriller to the No. 1 Cavaliers 2-3 and a 0-1 loss to the No. 10 Hokies on Sunday.
It’s all gone pear-shaped in South Bend as the Irish have now gone four straight without a win after taking their first five in conference play. A cloud of controversy hung over the ND victory in Chapel Hill earlier this season when referees missed Crystal Dunn’s phantom goal and many will say the soccer gods evened things out in Thursday’s rain-soaked drama. The Cavs got down to business as usual in the opening minutes, jumping out to an early lead on the Irish, but Notre Dame went blow-for-blow with the No. 1 team in the country, leveling twice with Virginia as the Cavaliers couldn’t hold the Irish and Elizabeth Tucker down. Tied 2-2 in overtime, Notre Dame wouldn’t have an opportunity to respond to Morgan Brian’s golden goal just over a minute into double-overtime and, in a cruel reversal of fortunes, the Irish found themselves wishing for goal-line technology in the NCAA, if only for that one moment.
Although the Irish rose to their competition in Charlottesville and played an inspiring game against difficult odds, the team looked just plain flat in Blacksburg on Sunday. Notre Dame were overwhelmed initially by the aggressive play of the Hokies, especially forward Jazmine Reeves, who clearly set out to establish a speed advantage against the tired Irish. The visitors eventually gained some control in the match even having the statistical advantage in shots, but were definitely the less dangerous team on the field for most of the match. With overtime looming again, the Irish defense finally caved in the 86th minute as Shannon Mayrose found Ellie Zoefl in front of goal for a quick strike through the legs of keeper Kaela Little, shocking Notre Dame with their third-straight conference loss.
The regular season title is likely out of sight for the Irish, but there’ s still a home fixture in the conference tournament to play for as well as a decent seed in the NCAA tourney. Next up, the Irish return to Alumni Stadium to host a Duke side struggling to stay valid in the ACC.
Virginia Tech (10, 11-1-2, 6-1-1) – Shutout Notre Dame in a 1-0 home victory on Sunday.
No doubt the conference’s most pleasant surprise, the Hokies continue to overachieve in the ACC and looked the better side through most of Sunday’s match against road-weary Notre Dame. Va Tech came into Sunday’s game with ten days’ rest while their opponents were fresh off Thursday’s overtime heartbreaker and it showed on the field as speedy forward Jazmine Reeves shredded the Irish backline time and time again. Ashley Meier and Shannon Mayrose each saw limited minutes, coming on as subs early in the first half, and immediately impacted the game for the Hokies, pushing an already threatened Irish side further into defense. Neither side were able to finish their chances, though, as the two teams fought for control of the match and the game-winner wouldn’t come until the 87th minute when Ellie Zoepfl, on the field for less than ten minutes, slotted home a cross from Mayrose.
Thursday the Hokies will host stumbling Wake Forest in Blacksburg, then head north to face Pitt.
Penn State (11, 10-3-1, 4-2 Big 10) – Coming off a 0-1 loss on the road to Minnesota in Week 7, a victory in Sunday’s match against rivals for the crown Michigan would’ve been just what the doctor ordered. The Nittany Lions grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and immediately jumped on the offensive, taking five shots in the first 12 minutes. Although the team struggled to put make anything of their chances, the offense continued in the second half as PSU sent another 14 shots toward the Wolverines’ goal with every starter aside from defender Bri Hovington taking a turn. The lack of quality shots would prove their undoing, though, and Michigan would slot home one of its rare chances, converting their only second-half shot on goal in the 67th minute for the decisive goal and PSU’s second consecutive conference loss. The season is far from over for the Lions, fortunately, as there are still five games left in Big 10 play with Thursday’s match against Ohio State being the first opportunity to stop their unprecedented two-game skid, the first time in program history the Nittany Lions have ever dropped consecutive conference matches.
Florida (12, 10-3-1, 4-2 SEC) – A testament to how difficult road games can be in the SEC, the nine-win Gators should’ve been able to swat away nine-loss Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs held out against a Gator barrage for nearly a full 110 minutes until Savannah Jordan headed in her 13th goal of the season with 70 seconds left on the clock to win 1-0. Florida compressed the field into their attacking half for most of the match, taking 25 shots and pushing for an astounding 26 corners, but had a hard time creating quality chances, even having a penalty kick blocked in the second half. Scoreless in overtime, desperation changed the mood on both sides and a flare-up amongst the players before a set piece had the referee dealing cards to each team. Mississippi State would eventually go down to 10 as the bad blood continued, setting Florida up for a final opportunity as a Lauren Silver cross connected with Jordan in front of goal, who rose above the crowd to sink her fifth game-winner of the year. The Gators are currently tied for fifth in the SEC with Ole Miss, but can gain some much-needed ground with home victories over conference front-runners Kentucky and LSU this weekend.
South Carolina (13, 12-1-1, 5-1 SEC) – A resurgent Alabama side made things difficult for the Gamecocks on Friday, knocking the home side back in the first half off a goal from Dutch international Pia Rijsdijk. South Carolina poured it on after the goal with eight shots in the last 20 minutes of the half, but the breakthrough wouldn’t come until the 60th minute when Stevi Parker split two defenders to bring down a long service as she entered the box and shot into the back of the net. With five minutes left on the clock, senior Danielle Au completed the comeback, again finding space between the centerbacks just inside the box, where she tapped the ball around the onrushing keeper then blasted it into the top corner.
Wake Forest (14, 8-3-2, 3-3-2 ACC) – Before heading into the weekend, news broke that the Demon Deacons would be without the services of career goals leader Katie Stengel, who likely will miss the rest of the season due to blood clots in her left leg. The outlook for the rest of Wake’s year seems dismal as Stengel is tied for the team lead in goals with six while her eight assists are best among the Deacs. Already hampered by the loss of Stengel’s partner-in-crime Rachel Nuzzolese and the team now is essentially without a bona-fide goal-scorer. What a great time to draw the nation’s most dominant team: Virginia. With limited offensive options on his roster, coach Tony Da Luz had his work cut out for him, starting a pair of unproven senior forwards on Sunday for limited minutes, then swapping out for a pair of unproven underclassmen midway through the first half. The results were the same either way as Wake managed a meager three shots on the day while Virginia put nine of their 15 total shots on target. The outcome: a 0-2 loss on Senior Day as the Demon Deacons paid tribute to a brilliant core of senior players, including Stengel, Nuzzolese and goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, that only two years ago were on their way to the Final Four and their best season in Wake Forest history.
Texas Tech (15, 13-1-2, 3-0-2 Big 12) – The Red Raiders, top-ranked amongst defenses in the country, gave up a goal for only the fourth match this season on Friday, but rallied on the road against Oklahoma to win 2-1. Scoreless for an hour, Oklahoma took the lead as the Tech defense surrendered the opening goal for the first time this year in the 62nd minute, but TTU retorted a half-minute later to draw level as Ali Murphy’s cross from the sideline nestled into the far corner of the net. The Red Raiders took advantage of a Sooner team that is prone to giving up leads late, eventually scoring when Jessica Fuston one-timed a cross from point-blank range for the game-winner while goalkeeper Victoria Esson was called into action on the other end as the Sooners tried a quick answer of their own, laying out to apparently get just enough of her mitt on a shot that nearly crossed the line. On Sunday, the Red Raiders faced their first Top 25 opponent in a Baylor team that’s been on the ropes of late. As you might expect of a match between two teams with 21 shutouts combined, the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
West Virginia (16, 11-2-2, 5-0 Big 12) – The Mountaineers sit atop the Big 12 hill as WVU maintained a perfect record through five in their first season in the conference with a 2-0 win over Iowa State and a hard-fought 3-2 overtime victory against TCU. Friday, the team hosted Iowa State and, not surprisingly, top scorers Kate Schwindel and Frances Silva accounted for the two goals as each netted their ninth of the season. Texas Christian made the long journey to Morgantown on Sunday and withstood a 35-shot onslaught from the Mountaineers that saw them hold a 2-2 lead until the 99th minute. Seemingly attached at the hip, Schwindel and Silva (Schwilva?) scored again, with Silva hitting the first of the game off a feed from center back Kadeisha Buchanan while Schwindel drove home the final strike from seven yards out for her second game-winner of the year. WVU have three conference fixtures left with basement-dwellers Kansas and Oklahoma over the next two weeks before the season finale in Lubbock against No. 15 Texas Tech.
Denver (17, 12-1-1, 3-0 Summit) – A pair of shutouts over the weekend, their eleventh and twelfth of the season, pushed the Pioneers to their fifth straight win and have them unbeaten in their first three games in the Summit. Friday’s 2-0 win over Western Illinois was a one-sided affair that saw all but three field players try their luck at the Leathernecks’ net. Midfielders Anna Willis and Francesca Garzelloni each scored in the 2-0 victory and would feature again in Sunday’s contest against Summit strugglers Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI, FYI). The visiting Jaguars were demolished in Denver as the Pioneers mercilessly brought wave-after-wave of offense, amassing six goals while IUPUI did well to account for their five shots all day. Senior Kristen Hamilton continues to move her career yardsticks for Denver even further, scoring twice within three minutes and assisting once, for her tenth and ninth of the season, respectively. Willis again opened the scoring in the 14th minute off a cross from Hamilton and the senior forward’s penetrating run into the box set up Nicholette Digiacomo’s penalty kick 15, yes, 15 seconds later for the game’s second goal. All told, five players would score in the 6-0 rout and six different Pioneers would earn assists.
Santa Clara (18, 8-3-1, 2-0 WCC) – The Broncos are off to a hot start in the West Coast Conference, winning their first two games of the schedule over San Diego and No. 22 BYU. Thursday SCU were all over the Toreros and Morgan Marlborough led the charge with eight shots on the night while Julie Johnston and Sofia Huerta each had four. It would be Huerta and Johnston who would combine for the game’s only goal in the 31st minute as a penetrating through-ball from Sofia Huerta into the box connected with Julie Johnston just in front of the net. The senior crashed in on goal as the ball came in and slid to knock it in from point-blank range for her team-leading seventh of the season. Saturday Santa Clara stayed home to face BYU and the team came back from an early first-half deficit, again off a beautiful series from Huerta and Johnston, but this time it was the Mexican international who found the back of the net. The Broncos pressed for the game-winner throughout the second half, firing 11 shots to the Cougars’ three, and the home side finally found it in the 83rd minute when Katie Speidel finished off a give-and-go combination with Marlborough to ice the game away.
Michigan (19, 10-2-1, 4-1-1 Big 10) – A decisive road victory on Sunday over reigning conference champs Penn State has blown the Big 10 race wide open. The 1-0 victory marked Michigan’s fourth win over a ranked opponent this season, the fifth was a draw against Wisconsin, and puts the Maize and Blue in second place, leapfrogging Penn State, in the conference standings. Senior Tori McCombs gave the Wolverines the lead in the 67th minute when forward Nkem Ezurike sent a ball across the face of goal just beyond the reach of keeper Britt Eckerstrom which found McCombs waiting at the far post where she shot from close range. The Wolverines defense did an admirable job of absorbing Penn State’s 21-shot attack and freshman goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin earned the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Week and Co-Freshman of the Week awards for her shutout over the Nittany Lions.
Wisconsin (20, 8-3-2, 3-2-1 Big 10) – The Badgers battled back against a high-scoring, but defensively shaky Illinois side on Saturday, coming from two goals down with 13 minutes left, but were unable to defeat the Fighting Illini in a 2-3 road loss. Wisconsin currently occupy fourth place in the Big 10, but there’s still an outside shot at a top finish with Friday’s home match against Nebraska the only one of their remaining five games coming against a higher-placed opponent.
UCF (21, 11-2-2, 4-0-1 AAC) – The Knights made up for Friday’s 1-1 draw away to AAC upstart Cincinnati at the end of the weekend as Central Florida scored a huge 1-0 win over conference leaders Louisville on Sunday. In the battle of the American Athletic Conference’s preseason favorites, UCF’s Jennifer Martin scored the lone goal of the match in the 20th minute while the Knights, buoyed by back-up keeper Connie Organ’s five second-half saves, kept Charlyn Corral and the Cardinals scoreless to win the first-ever match up between the two powerhouse clubs.
BYU (22, 7-4-1, 1-1 WCC) – The Cougars opened their conference season with a 2-0 win on the road at San Francisco with a pair of first half goals from senior Niki Fernandes and Cloee Colohan, then went up early in Santa Clara on Saturday off Colette Jepson Smith’s 11th-minute goal. The defense would ultimately give up the lead by the end of the first half, though, and another late goal, this time with just over seven minutes left in regulation, tagged the Cougars with the 1-2 defeat.
Baylor (23, 8-3-3, 1-2-1 Big 12) – The Bears rolled through 10 straight without a defeat to start the season, but hit a wall when they ran up against West Virginia in week six’s dramatic fixture. Friday’s 0-2 loss to Texas, 4-1 in the Big 12, made it three losses in a row as a dominating defense that only allowed one goal through that 10-game streak suddenly looked like Swiss cheese with eight allowed across the last three. Baylor plugged the defensive leaks on Sunday in a grinding, physical battle against No. 15 Texas Tech that ended in a goalless draw, despite the rarely-seen throw-in goal which was disallowed, extending the Bears’ winless streak to four straight.
Nebraska (24, 10-3-1, 5-1 Big 10) – Four goals from four ‘Huskers enabled Nebraska to overturn a scoreless first half, defeating Purdue 4-0 in West Lafayette. Mayme Conroy’s sixth goal of the season got the team off early in the second 45, scoring one minute into the half to start the scoring avalanche. Forward Jordan Jackson assisted on all but one of the goals and had a score of her own while the Nebraska defense kept the Boilermakers off the board on the other end of the field, preserving the shutout despite being outshot in the second half 7-14. Lackluster in their first two years with the Big 10 and picked to finish ninth in this season’s preseason poll, Nebraska’s five wins currently lead the conference and the team can go a long way toward securing their first conference title with away wins this weekend against No. 20 Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Kentucky (25, 11-2-1, 5-1 SEC) – Arin Gilliland and the Wildcats pounced on Tennessee early, scoring four in under 40 minutes to lead Kentucky to a 4-1 victory over the Vols on Friday night. The junior continues to impress on both ends of the ball, netting seven already this season despite playing limited minutes on offense. Caitlin Landis scored the other goal for Kentucky and had a pair of assists while Stuart Pope chipped in for an assist of her own to lead the team with 23 points. With the win, Kentucky maintains a three-way tie for second place in a surprisingly wide-open SEC season. On Friday, UK will have to go through Florida in Gainesville to keep the momentum rolling on a fantastic season that has seen them take five out of their first six results in conference play.
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