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NCAA Weekend Recap: ACC, SEC tournaments kick off; Stanford three-peats as Pac-12 champs

The last weekend of October means one thing: the start of NCAA conference tournaments all around the country. Most conferences closed out the 2017 regular season Thursday night, with tournament play kicking off on Sunday. The Equalizer will keep you up-to-date on all the NCAA Division 1 tournament action as its played out, including a special tournament edition of the NCAA Weekend Recap highlighting the ACC and SEC tournaments. Here’s a recap of all of those tournaments’ action, as well as from the Pac-12 league-deciding match between Top 5 opponents Stanford and USC.

UNC unseat reigning champs Florida State, 2-1

The ACC tournament will have a new champion for the first time since 2012, as four-time defending champions Florida State were knocked off, 2-1, by North Carolina. Zoe Redei scored the opening Tar Heel goal in the 15th minute, and Taylor Otto scored the game winner from the spot in the second half. Although Dallas Dorosy pulled the Seminoles back within one, UNC was the better team on both sides of the ball, and the Seminoles were eliminated at the final whistle.

UNC took their first lead of the day when Bridgette Andrzejewski put a header on frame, which goalkeeper Cassie Miller got a mitt on to deflect back into play. That set up Zoe Redei to score her first goal of the season in dramatic fashion, crashing into the box and burying the rebound as the sophomore forward collided with a defender and tumbled to the ground. Although she failed to get on the scoresheet herself, Andrzejewski was instrumental in both Tar Heel goals, drawing a foul inside the area to earn UNC a crucial penalty early in the second half. Redshirt freshman Taylor Otto easily converted from the spot for the eventual Tar Heel game winner.

Five minutes after Otto’s goal, Florida State got one of their own to cut UNC’s lead in half. The goal was courtesy of Dallas Dorosy, who connected with Deyna Castellanos (who had entered the game a minute prior as a substitute) for the Seminole goal. The best chances in the remaining 30 minutes of the match belonged to North Carolina, though, and the Seminoles, picked to win the ACC in a preseason coaches’ poll, were eliminated.

Also in ACC tournament action:

– Regular season conference champs Duke defeated Boston College, 3-1, thanks to a trio of first-half goals by Chelsea Burns, Imani Dorsey and Kayla McCoy. Carly Leipzig scored for the Eagles.

– Sophomore midfielder Tziarra King scored a second-half hat trick to lead NC State past Notre Dame, 4-1. The win marks the first time since 1995 that the Wolfpack advances to the ACC tournament semifinals.

– Despite going down a goal early in the first half, the Virginia Cavaliers successfully launched a second-half comeback that saw them down the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 2-1. Bailey Feist put Wake Forest on the board in the 13th minute, but freshman Taryn Torres (penalty) and Meghan McCool contributed singles on the day to advance the Cavaliers.

– No. 1 seed Duke will now face No. 4 seed Virginia on Friday, November 3 at 5:30 p.m. ET, followed by No. 2 seed UNC taking on No. 3 seed NC State. Kickoff for the second match will be around 8 p.m. ET. Both semifinal matches will be televised on the ACC Network.

Missouri, Arkansas advance to SEC tournament quarterfinals

Unlike the eight-team ACC tournament, the SEC tournament features the top 10 teams in the conference. The top six seeds get a bye to the quarterfinals, while the bottom four seeds compete in the first round for the final two quarterfinal spots. The first round of the 2017 SEC tournament kicked off today, with Missouri and Arkansas defeated Alabama and Ole Miss, respectively, to advance to the next round.

Tenth-seed Missouri kicked off this year’s SEC tournament in dramatic fashion, upsetting No. 7 seed Alabama after taking the lead in the opening 45 seconds via sophomore forward Savannah Trujillo. Sarah Luebbert put a Missouri shot on frame, literally, seconds into the match, only to be denied by the crossbar. Trujillo knocked in the rebound to give the Tigers an early one-goal lead. Luebbert increased Mizzou’s lead after capitalizing on a defensive error by the Crimson Tide, pouncing on a loose ball and scoring on an open goal to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead at the half.

Grace Kitts put the third and final Mizzou goal away early in the second half, one-timing a cross from Kaitlyn Clark past the keeper. Alabama had a number of opportunities to prevent the shutout but were unable to finish until the 70th minute when Celia Jiminez Delgado scored off a Nealy Martin assist. The lone Alabama goal would not suffice, and the Crimson Tide would fall short. With the win, Missouri advances to the SEC tournament quarterfinals, where they’ll face No. 2 seed Texas A&M.

Arkansas defeated Ole Miss, 1-0, to advance to the next round of win-or-go-home action in Orange Beach, Alabama. Freshman Taylor Malham netted her sixth goal of the season in the 32nd minute and a season-high five saves by sophomore keeper Jordan Harris in goal lifted the Razorbacks past the third-ranked offense in the nation. The Razorbacks will now take on No. 1 seed–and No. 3 team in the nation–South Carolina in the quarterfinals.

The SEC tournament continues on Tuesday, October 31 in Orange Beach. Texas A&M and Missouri will kick off the quarterfinal round at 1 p.m. ET, followed by Florida and Auburn at 3:30 p.m. ET. Day 2 of SEC tournament play will continue at 6 p.m. ET with South Carolina and Arkansas, followed by Vanderbilt and Tennessee at 8:30 p.m. ET. All matches will be televised on SEC Network.

Stanford captures third-straight Pac-12 title with win over USC

The No. 1 Stanford Cardinal were crowned Pac-12 Champions on Sunday afternoon after defeating No. 5 Southern California, 3-1, in Los Angeles. The top-ranked Cardinal remain perfect in conference play on the season, earning them their third straight league title. Kiara “Kiki” Pickett, Michele Xiao and Catarina Macario all scored for the Cardinal, while Sydney Myers contributed the lone Trojan goal of the match.

Scoring for the Cardinal was opened by an unlikely source, five-foot-nothing freshman defender Kiki Pickett, who scored off a set piece in the 15th minute. The goal came off a short corner that ended with Jaye Boissiere’s ball into the box, which Pickett headed home for her first career Cardinal goal.

The jubilation over Pickett’s goal was short lived, though, as the USC proved why the cliché “You’re most vulnerable right after you’ve scored” is true. Sydney Myers pulled the Trojans back level just two minutes later, also scoring on a play that originated at the corner. Julia Bingham’s initial shot on the play landed at Myers’ feet, and the redshirt junior turned and fired off a shot that beat Cardinal keeper Lauren Rood. The goal was the first conceded by the Cardinal in 791 minutes, preventing Rood from earning Stanford’s ninth straight shutout.

The first-half back-and-forth ensued, with Michele Xiao attempted to retake the lead for the Cardinal minutes later, putting a hard shot on frame that was swatted away by USC’s netminder Kaylie Collins before being cleared from danger by her defender. Collins couldn’t deny Xiao again in the 26th minute though, and the junior midfielder’s shross squeezed between the crossbar and Collins’ fingertips to hit the inside side netting for the Cardinal’s second goal.

Although Xiao’s goal was the title-winning goal, Catarina Macario’s 63rd-minute goal put the game away for the Cardinal. A hard challenge on Andi Sullivan at the top of the arc resulted in a free kick dangerously close to goal, which Macario calmly stepped up to take. The freshman, who had previously put away a 35-yard free kick against Oregon on October 19, fired off a shot that sailed over and around the multi-player wall and into the far upper 90 to give Stanford the 3-1 advantage.

Stanford next closes out regular season play at home against No. 16 California, while USC closes out their 2017 season on the road against UCLA. Both finales will be played on Friday, November 3 at 10 p.m. ET and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.


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