Halloween will be here before you can say “boo” – and so will the end of the NCAA women’s soccer regular season.
In the next couple weeks, league titles will be decided, conference tournament brackets will be filled out and the group of possible NCAA Tournament contenders will whittle its way down to 64.
Highlighting the closing days of the regular season is Thursday night’s showdown between No. 2 Florida State (14-1-0) and No. 5 North Carolina (10-2-1), which not only has Atlantic Coast Conference title implications, but the result will most likely factor into the NCAA Tournament seedings down the road.
The two squads head into the match with identical 7-0-0 ACC records and are both riding lengthy winning streaks into the game which kicks off at 7 p.m. in Chapel Hill. The game will be broadcast live on the ACC Regional Sports Network and ESPN3.
It is the 16th time in the last 18 meetings between the two schools that both teams are ranked in the top 10.
Florida State, winner of 10 consecutive contests, has topped the Tar Heels in four straight games – all of which have been decided with a single goal. While UNC still holds a 24-6-2 advantage in the series, with a win on Thursday, the Seminoles can become the only team in history to defeat the perennial power seven times.
“North Carolina has defined success in collegiate women’s soccer for a long time with their consistency and longevity,” said Florida State head coach Mark Krikorian. “We’re just trying to obtain similar success.”
The Seminoles rank eighth nationally in scoring with 2.80 goals per game and are led by Icelandic natives DagnyBrynjarsdottir (9 goals) and BerglindThorvaldsdottir (10 goals), who have combined for 19 goals this season with at least one of the duo scoring in each of FSU’s contests.
“They’re a good attacking pair,” said Krikorian. “They’re opportunistic and have been fortunate to finish off those chances. They are two good quality players and are being rewarded with a very good season.”
The Tar Heels look to extend their nine-game winning streak with a deep roster that has seen half of its 22 goals scored by players coming off the bench. Emily Bruder is the team’s leading scorer with four goals, all of which came in UNC’s wins over Pitt and Duke last weekend.
AROUND THE NATION
No. 10 West Virginia (11-2-2, 4-0-1) is in the driver’s seat in the Big 12 league race as the first-place Mountaineers close out the regular season three-game home stand beginning with Friday’s Oklahoma State (9-7-1, 4-1-1) contest. The Mountaineers are unbeaten in their last 12 games, including a 2-0 victory over then-No. 9 Kansas last weekend. WVU hosts Oklahoma on Sunday and then finishes off the schedule with a Halloween match against Baylor. “This is an ideal position for us,” said senior forward Kate Schwindel. “Playing at home gives us an advantage, and we’re very confident going into this weekend. We’re up for it, and it’s going to be two huge games. It’s a good feeling knowing we control our own destiny.”
Furman’s Jamie Alexander scored a record-setting flurry of goals en route to earning NSCAA/Disney National Player of the Week. Alexander came off the bench to tally four goals in span of 5:38 minutes, setting an NCAA record for the fastest four consecutive goals by the same player, as the Paladins dominated Chattanooga, 9-0, last Sunday. The Paladins have won three consecutive matches and look to stretch the streak against UNC Greensboro and VMI this weekend.
BIG EAST teams will be jostling for a spot in the league tournament this weekend, but DePaul already has a berth locked up and can finish no lower than fifth. The Blue Demons (13-0-3, 5-0-2) are one of only two remaining undefeated squads in the nation – the other is No. 1 UCLA. DePaul hosts Xavier in its final home game Saturday. Georgetown and St. John’s, who are both 5-1-1 in league action, still have a shot to claim the regular season crown if DePaul does not win out.
Buffalo heads into the weekend on a program-record eight-game unbeaten streak in Mid-American Conference action thanks to the stellar goalkeeping play of freshman Laura Dougall, who notched a pair of league shutout wins last weekend. Dougall, who has posted a program-record 10 shutouts on the season, ranks second nationally with a .921 save percentage and sixth in the NCAA with a 0.34 goals against average. The Bulls are riding their longest unbeaten streak since 1999 and are the only team without a loss in the MAC. They host Ball State on Friday and Miami (Ohio) on Sunday. The Bulls have not finished above .500 since 2011. Their only MAC title came in 2000.
SIDEKICKS: Washington moved up to No. 18 in the latest NSCAA Division I Top 25 on the merits of four consecutive Pac-12 victories. The Huskies are in sole possession of third place in the league standings behind No. 1 UCLA and No. 4 Stanford … South Carolina reentered the rankings at No. 20 after upsetting then-No. 5 Florida thanks to a pair of goals by freshman forward Savannah McCaskill … After opening the season with a 10-0-0 record, No. 14 Virginia Tech has lost four of its last six contests – all to ACC opponents … La Salle boasts a perfect 5-0-0 mark in Atlantic 10 Conference action heading into the final two weekends of play. Senior Kelsey Haycook paces the league with 29 points and 13 goals, including the game-winner that snapped Dayton’s 30-game conference unbeaten streak last Friday.
October 22, 2014 - College Soccer New's Bracketologist issues his initial projection of the 2014 NCAA Tournament field based on the latest RPI issued and a projection of the conference champions based on the information currently available. These projections will be updated as the season progresses. Doctor Bracketology has projected the forty-eight teams that will be in the 2014 NCAA Tournament field, the sixteen seeds, and the match-ups. His analysis is based on projected conference winners and the criteria the selection committee will use which includes win-loss record, geography, recent team play, quality wins, and the head-to-head match-ups that have taken place to-date.
The Doctor cautions that the RPI will change dramatically as the season progresses. The picture regarding conference championships and automatic berths will become clearer as the season progresses and conference tournaments get underway. The projections are not reflective of any national polls nor are they attempting to gague who the best teams are. They are designed to predict what the NCAA Tournament fiedl would be if the selections were to be made at this moment. The projections do not take into account expected future results.
#1 UCLA Region
First Round - Radford (Big South Automatic) vs. UAB (CUSA #2)
Second Round - Winner vs. #1 UCLA (Pac-12 #2)
First Round - St. Francis PA (NEC Automatic) vs. Xavier (Big East #4)
Winner vs. #16 Saint Louis (A-10 #3)
First Round - Western Illinois (Summit Automatic) vs. Valparaiso (Horizon League #2)
Winner vs. #8 Michigan (Big Ten #3)
First Round - SMU (AAU Automatic) vs. Kentucky (CUSA #3)
Winner vs. #9 Creighton (Big East Automatic)
#2 UC Irvine Region
First Round - San Francisco (WCC Automatic) vs. California (Pac-12 #4)
Winner vs. #2 UC Irvine (Big West Automatic)
First Round - American (Patriot #2) vs. Maryland (Big Ten #4)
Winner vs. #15 Georgetown (Big East #3)
First Round - UMBC (America East Automatic) vs. Elon (CAA Automatic)
Winner vs. #7 Syracuse (ACC #2)
First Round - Hartwick (Sun Belt Automatic) vs. North Carolina (ACC #4)
Winner vs. #10 Stanford (Pac-12 #3)
#3 Indiana Region
First Round - SIUE (MVC Automatic) vs. Louisville (ACC #7)
Winner vs. #3 Indiana (Big Ten #2)
First Round - Rhode Island (A-10 Automatic) vs. Boston University (Patriot Automatic)
Winner vs. #14 Providence (Big East #2)
First Round - Harvard (Ivy Automatic) vs. New Mexico (CUSA #4)
Winner vs. #6 Washington (Pac-12 Automatic)
First Round - Siena (MAAC Automatic) vs. Akron (MAC Automatic)
Winner vs. #11 Penn State (Big Ten Automatic)
#4 Notre Dame Region
First Round - Oakland (Horizon Automatic) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten #5)
Winner vs #4 Notre Dame (ACC Automatic)
First Round - FGCU (A-Sun Automatic) vs. UNCW (CAA #2)
Winner vs. #4 Notre Dame
First Round - Incarnate Word (WAC Automatic) vs. Clemson (ACC #5)
Winner vs. #13 Davidson (A-10 #2)
First Round - Mercer (Southern Conference Automatic) vs. Coastal Carolina (Big South #2)
Winner vs. #12 Virginia (ACC #3)
Projected Conference Breakdown
Syracuse continues to impress with a 4-0 win over Connecticut in Storrs. This has not been a banner year to date for UConn but such a dominant win over the Huskies in Storrs is still noteworthy. The win over Connecticut was Syracuse's first on the road over Connecticut since the 2000 season. The Orange also continues to be very productive out of set pieces with two of their four goals in the win over Connecticut coming out of corner kicks. Syracuse has also been solid on the defensive side of the ball recording ten shutouts so far this year to up their record to 12-1-0. Ian McIntyre's team has another very tough contest on their dance card when they take to the road on Friday night to face Louisville at Lynn Stadium. Louisville has had an up and down season to date with four straight defeats before topping Florida Gulf Coast 2-1 on Tuesday night. The Cardinals appear to match up well with Syracuse so this one should be interesting.
Washington's 2-1 loss to UCLA at Drake Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday further confirmed the fact that the 2014 Pac-12 race is wide open with wins on the road in particular a premium and wins at home a requirement in order to prevail in this extremely competitive conference. Washington is now 9-2-1 with a 2-1-1 mark in conference play that includes a loss to UCLA on the road and a tie with Oregon State on the road. UCLA is 7-3-3 with a 2-1-1 mark in conference play with a loss on the road to California and a tie with Stanford away from home. Stanford is 8-2-1 overall with a 2-1-1 record in conference play. The Cardinal's lone conference loss to date was to Washington in Seattle and they tied UCLA at home. California is 8-3-0 overall with a 2-2-0 record in Pac-12 play. The Golden Bears conference losses are to Washington and Oregon State on the road. Oregon State is 8-4-1 overall and playing very well but the bottom line is that they have a 1-2-1 mark in conference play. San Diego State secured a 1-0 win over Oregon State on Thursday night to improve to 7-6-0 with a 1-3-0 mark in conference play. The Aztec's host Washington on Sunday at the Sports Deck in a must win game for both sides. On a given day anyone can beat anyone in the Pac-12 as there are no easy wins in this conference this year.
After beginning the 2014 season with a 0-3-2 record the season didn't look very promising for Cal State Fullerton but under the direction of new head coach George Kuntz the Titans turned things around and have won seven out of their last nine games including their last three in a row to improve to 7-5-2. Senior forward Marc Fenelus (4g, 2a) and senior midfielder Garrett Losee (4g, 1a) have played key roles on the offensive side of the ball. The Titans will seek to keep their win streak alive when they travel to face a very solid UC Irvine team on Saturday, October 18. UC Irvine will be a homecoming of sorts for Kuntz who served as the head coach for the Anteaters for nineteen years before leaving at the conclusion of the 2013 season to take the head coaching job at Cal State Fullerton. UC Irvine under the direction of first year head coach Chris Volk enters the match with a 10-1-2 overall record. In four contests to date at home the Anteaters have yet to allow a goal.
Xavier started the season with two losses during which time they uncharacteristically allowed a total of seven goals. However they have rebounded and are now unbeaten in their past seven contests to improve to 9-3-1 overall with a 3-0-1 mark in Big East play. The Musketeers have been rock solid on the defensive side of the ball recording seven clean sheets in their past ten games during which time they have allowed a total of only five goals. Xavier has a tough game coming up on Saturday, October 18 when they host a very good Creighton team that is 11-1-1 overall with a 4-0-0 mark in Big East play. Creighton will come into this one after topping St. John's on the road on Wednesday 1-0 as a result of a Fabian Herber goal out of a free kick in the last minute of play. With Georgetown losing to Providence College on Wednesday to drop to 2-1-1 in conference play and Marquette coming out on the short end of a 1-0 contest with Butler to drop to 1-1-1 in conference play, the winner of the Creighton and Xavier match will be in first place in the Big East Conference. A win over Creighton would be a good confidence builder for Xavier as well as a solid addition to their resume. After Xavier tangles with Creighton they must take to the road to play Marquette and Georgetown. Georgetown and Marquette are also the next two teams on Creighton's dance card but the Bluejays will face them at home in the friendly confines of Morrison Stadium. The outcome of the three game stretch that includes Creighton, Xavier, Georgetown and Marquette will have huge implications for the Big East race.
The Indiana faithful are among the most supportive fans in the country. So far this year they have had a lot to be excited about. A lot of soccer remains to be played but so far it would be difficult to find a coach who has done a better job with his team than Todd Yeagley has to date. IU is out to an 8-1-3 overall record with a 2-1-1 mark in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers have signature wins over Marquette, Saint Louis, and Louisville. They also have recorded ties with Georgetown, Butler and Northwestern. Their lone loss to date is a 1-0 setback to Big Ten foe Penn State. The Hoosiers will be tested this Sunday, October 19 when they host a revitalized Maryland side that topped LeHigh 2-0 Wednesday to win their third consecutive contest and improve their record to 6-5-2. The Terps have struggled this year by their own standards but they were very impressive last weekend when they thumped Penn State 4-0. The Terps have their backs to the wall and will arrive in Bloomington ready to play. This should be one of the better contests of the weekend.
Oakland recorded its fifth consecutive win and fourth consecutive shutout on Wednesday night when junior Shawn Claud Lawson scored twice to lead the Golden Grizzlies past Milwaukee on the road to up their overall record to 5-5-1 with a 4-0-1 mark in Horizon League play. Place Eric Poque's Oakland team on the short list of teams that are gaining momentum. Oakland netminder Wes Mink has not allowed a goal in over 399 minutes of game action. Mink and his teammates will seek to keep the ball rolling when they host Belmont in an Horizon League match on Saturday.
Siena picked up a big win in MAAC play on Wednesday when they defeated the Golden Griffins from Canisius 1-0 to improve to 9-5-0 with a 4-1-0 mark in conference play. Iona topped Saint Peter's 4-3 on Wednesday to up their record to 7-4-2 overall with a 4-1-0 mark in MAAC play. Iona jumped out to a 3-0 lead but they flirted with disaster when they allowed the Peacocks to score three second half goals to knot the score before freshman Marcos Nunez netted the game winner for the Gaels. Siena and Iona are tied atop the MAAC standings but Iona topped Siena when the two teams squared off back on September 30.
Marquette University goalkeeper Charlie Lyon's streak of consecutive shutout minutes ended at 804:58 when junior Jeff Adkins scored in the seventh minute of play in Butler's 1-0 upset win. The loss to Butler snapped Marquette's eight game winning and shutout streak. Marquette drops to 7-3-1 with a 1-1-1 mark in Big East play. Butler improves to 5-5-3 with a 1-3-0 mark in Big East action.
After losing to Davidson and Syracuse, the Virginia Cavaliers have secured wins over James Madison, Pittsburgh, George Mason and Duke. The Cavaliers are 8-3-1 with a 3-1-1 mark in ACC play. They have a difficult match slated for Friday when they travel to face Clemson at Historic Riggs Field. The Tigers are 6-6-0 with a 3-2-0 mark in conference play. The Virginia defense anchored by goalkeeper Calle Brown has been a team strength as the Cavaliers have allowed a total of only seven goals to date. Midfielder Eric Bird is the catalyst on the offensive side of the ball for Virginia. Clemson has played everyone tough so this one could go either way.
Harvard has been flying under the radar on the national scene this year for a team that has now won eight straight to improve to 8-3-0 with a 2-0-0 in Ancient Eight play. The win streak is the longest for the Crimson since the 2006 campaign. Harvard is playing very well together as a team and has been very effective at finding a way to come up with the big play needed to give them the edge on the offensive side of the ball. They have allowed a total of only eleven goals to date with six of the eleven coming in season opening losses to Georgetown, George Washington and St. John's. Harvard will put its winning streak on the line when they travel to face Brown in Ivy League action on Saturday.
Northwestern's six-game unbeaten streak came to an end on Tuesday in South Bend when they were topped 1-0 by Notre Dame. Patrick Hodan's penalty kick proved to be the difference maker for the Irish. Northwestern has allowed a total of only seven goals to date with three of the seven coming out of penalty kicks. Joey Calistri (4g, 2a) and Cole Missimo (4g, 2a) power the Northwestern attack. Senior Tyler Miller can hold his own with anyone between the pipes. The Wildcats will seek to start another winning streak when they tangle with Rutgers in Big Ten play on Saturday in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Hofstra's streak of five consecutive shutouts came to an end on Wednesday night when they were defeated 2-1 by Delaware in a key CAA contest. The loss dropped Hofstra to 7-4-2 overall with a 2-1-0 mark in conference play while Delaware improved to 9-4-0 with a 2-1-0 record in conference play. Things don't get any easier for Hofstra as the Pride now must travel to face a James Madison team that defeated Delaware 1-0 on the road on October 8. Elon's 2-1 win over UNCW on Wednesday night established that the regular season title is going to come down to a photo finish in what looks to be a very wild and action packed year in the CAA.
Something has to give soon in the Big South Conference race which is just beginning to heat up. Radford is 5-0-0 in conference play, Coastal Carolina is 4-0-0, Winthrop is 3-0-0 and High Point is 3-0-0. Radford and High Point face each other on Friday which will begin the process of separation in the Big South. Winthrop travels to face UNC Ashville and Coastal Carolina hosts Liberty on Saturday. Coastal Carolina with a 9-3-0 overall record and Winthrop with a 9-2-0 record are attracting attention on the national scene. Both have high powered attacks. Radford is 8-2-2 overall. The Highlanders also have a high octane attack but have been equally impressive on the defensive side of the ball having allowed only nine goals to date. Look for the Radford defense to be tested by High Point University forward Mamadee Nyepon who has found the back of the net nine times to date. HPU enters the contest with Radford with a 5-4-1 overall record.
SMU and South Florida with tangle on Saturday night at Westcott Field in Dallas in a contest that could determine who ends up on top in the American Athletic Conference. A win in this one will also enhance the standing of the winner on the national scene not to mention their RPI. SMU struggled early on losing three of their first four contests but have rebounded and are undefeated in their last eight outings to stand at 8-3-1 overall with a 3-0-1 mark in conference play. South Florida will arrive in Dallas off a good 3-0 non-conference win over the University of Denver and stands at 8-4-0 with a 3-1-0 mark in conference play. Both teams like to run and gun so this one has the potential to be very exciting.