2016 College Roundup: Florida State Starts Well and Golazos Abound

Weekly roundup of women’s college soccer news you might have missed. Includes the past week’s crucial games, injury reports, news of note, upcoming games to watch, and general observations about the world of women’s college soccer.

So That Happened

Results from key games.

Florida State 1-0 Texas A&M

One moment of brilliance from Deyna Castellanos (I mean, seriously that goal is ridiculous) just two minutes into the match was all that separated these top 10 squads. While the Aggies’ strength lies in their large number of returning stars, including Mikaela Harvey’s decision to skip the U-20 World Cup, the Seminoles impressed with new faces. Castellanos was one of three freshman starting for last year’s College Cup semifinalists. Casual. While Florida State got the win, Texas A&M actually did out shoot the visitors — 11 to 10 in shots and 4 to 2 in shots on goal. The Aggies had every opportunity to make a statement to open up the season, but didn’t finish their clear-cut chances.

West Virginia 1-1 Penn State

Our second battle of top 10 OGM poll teams took place in Happy Valley and while both teams didn’t leave the stadium in the happiest of moods, it was a decent start. This match on Friday wasn’t the prettiest to watch as both teams are very much still trying to find their feet and identities. Also, West Virginia was without Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence, who both won bronze for Canada earlier that day in Brazil, and Penn State is trying to establish what they’ll look like without five key returning players who will miss the season for the U-20 World Cup. Plus, filling the void left by Rocky Rodriguez is no easy task. But, a result for each side is something to build on, no doubt about it.

Clemson 2-0 Auburn

Tiger Bowl 2k16 went to the visitors, with Clemson’s smothering defense taking center stage. We knew that even without Kailen Sheridan the Clemson defense would be strong, and they certainly proved that in this match. Auburn’s Ramsier sisters, who seem like they’ve been in college for six years now but that’s for another time, were held to just one shot on goal, which was relatively tame. Sticking with defense, Auburn’s back line, which featured three seniors, was less than stellar. They allowed six shots on goal and, of course, two goals on those shots. Not a great start to the season for Auburn, and now their non-conference match against USC seems to hold a bit more importance than before.

Upcoming Games to Watch

Find a screen to watch these games.

Florida vs. Stanford

Two top 10 perennial soccer powers. Make sure your Friday night plans include this match (if you have Pac-12 network, that is). Here’s what could really make this match something to watch: Florida can score goals by the boatload, but seem to struggle with understanding this whole “defense” concept. If the Gators can get the numbers on the board against Stanford, then we’re in for a barn burner. Honestly, I’ll just attempt to sell this game as the U.S. Women’s National Team Futures Bowl. Florida’s goal-scoring destroyer Savannah Jordan versus Stanford’s “Nicole Barnhart Jr.” Jane Campbell.

UCLA vs. Texas A&M

Despite missing the NCAA Tournament last season, Amanda Cromwell put together possibly one of the hardest nonconference schedules in the country. And it starts on Friday deep in the heart of Texas as the Bruins face Texas A&M on Friday night. This match precedes a three-match home stand that pits UCLA against Florida, Penn State, and North Carolina. But after taking care of San Diego State in week one and decimating Beijing Normal University in an exhibition on Sunday, their 12 combined goals shows they’re ready to play. A&M bounced back nicely from their opening-day loss to Florida State by downing Rice, 4-1, bolstered by Haley Pounds’ 3-goal, 1-assist performance. Will the Aggies pick up a solid home victory to help their résumé? Or are we going to see this new-look Bruins squad keep up the scoring pace and notch a strong nonconference win? Subplot: Do we see Canadian international Jessie Fleming make her UCLA debut on Friday? It would be a quick turnaround after finishing up Olympic play, but one never knows.

BYU vs. Penn State

Nobody ever likes losing, especially at home. But BYU saw their 18-match home winning streak come to an end on Monday with a 2-0 loss to Nebraska, ending what was the longest home streak for any DI team. And now the Cougars are flying cross country to square off against Penn State at the Jeff, a place where the Nittany Lions crammed a record 5,791 fans last Friday night in their 1-1 draw against West Virginia. We don’t often see BYU travel east for matches but in a week that features six matches pitting OGM Top 25 teams against each other, this should be one of the best of the bunch.

North Carolina v Florida Gulf Coast (Editor’s Choice)

Often, when people think of Florida Gulf Coast, they think about the school that’s built practically on the beach in Fort Myers, Florida. Oh, and that one year their men’s basketball team dubbed themselves “Dunk City” and made it to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. Guess what folks, their women’s soccer team is pretty solid. They got to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament last year and are always a threat to capture the Atlantic Sun title every season. North Carolina head coach Anson Dorrance must have taken notice of their stock in the past year or so and scheduled a rare nonconference road trip to South Florida, which includes playing FGCU on Friday night. This one will be on ESPN3 and the locals are planning a “Green Out,” so expect a rowdy atmosphere and a big game from the Eagles’ senior forward Tabby Tindell, who is the A-Sun’s two-time Player of the Year and has 52 career goals.

Top Performers

The players who made a difference this past week.

Ella Stevens, Duke

Ella StevensWhen you’re the reigning Gatorade High School Player of the Year, it’s almost like you have to do something special on your debut. In Duke’s 9-1 opening day win against Wofford, there were a few goals that were quite nice. But Stevens’ tally was clearly the pick of the bunch. I mean, a little flick to yourself off a cross hit behind you and then hammering a half-volley on the turn. Take a bow and celly hard, Ella. And then, she goes and scores in Duke’s 3-0 win against UCF to finish off the weekend. Expect big things from this player throughout the season.

Candace Cephers, Virginia Tech

Candace Cephers of Virginia Tech

All eyes are justifiably on Murielle Tiernan, but fellow senior Candace Cephers came up absolutely clutch for her Hokies on opening weekend. After Mississippi State grabbed what seemed to be a late winner in the 81st minute, Candace Cephers notched two goals in 47 seconds to get the win. Yes, 47 SECONDS. Cephers coolly slotted home a penalty and got her head on the end of a free kick to bag the brace. It’s worth noting Mississippi State held Tiernan to just one shot on goal. The Bulldogs are by no means on Tournament Watch™ but could be putting SEC foes on Upset Watch™ this season.

#TeamOGM Alma Mater Watch

A new addition to the our college coverage as we take a look at how each of our alma mater’s are doing this season. Biased? Hope so.

Rachael Caldwell — Arkansas (SEC)

Results: W 4-3 @ James Madison; W 2-1  vs. VCU (at James Madison)

Let’s all extend a warm welcome the SEC Freshman of the Week, Stefani Doyle. Doyle came in as a highly hyped recruit in Coach Hale’s top 25 class (according to Top Drawer Soccer), and she certainly lived up to some of the excitement. The freshman notched three goals in her debut collegiate weekend. It was also great to see Alexandra “Sparky” Fischer notch three assists in the season opener, after a bit of a down junior year in which she struggled to get involved in the offense consistently. What’s worrying is the Cameron Carter and Co. allowing four goals this weekend. With Duke coming to town next week, it could get ugly if improvements aren’t made during this week’s practices. Regardless, the Razorbacks enter that match undefeated and have every opportunity to enter SEC play a fine 6-1-0 if they can’t pull off perhaps the biggest upset in school history.

Next week’s matches: Friday vs. Duke

JJ Duke- Rider University (MAAC)

Results: L, 1-4, vs. Rutgers

Hey, I give the Broncs a lot of credit. They were hosting a top 10 team, possibly for the first time in program history and a College Cup semifinalist, and had a 1-nil lead at halftime. So yeah, it’s an ugly score line for an opening season result but there were some bright spots to take away. Bethany May-Howard, who stepped into emergency keeper duty with Yeovil Town Ladies in FA Women’s Super League 2, made eight stops and kept Rider in the match. Freshman Valeria Pascuet lobbed the goalie from outside the box for her first collegiate goal and held her own in the center of the park. Next week they play two familiar opponents and should be able to build a little confidence if they get a result or two.

Next week’s matches: Thursday vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, Sunday @ Wagner

Ruth Moore — SIU-Edwardsville (OVC)

Results: W 6-1 vs. Chicago State; T 0-0 vs. Kansas State

First, the necessary disclaimer: SIUE is only nominally my alma mater, as it is the only DI school I’ve attended (for grad school) and the Cougars were just starting the DI transition when I was there. I probably know other Team OGM alma maters better than I know SIUE — my apologies, Cougars. The opening weekend of 2016 has its highs (6-1 over Chicago State, who went 0-19 last season) and it’s… warning signs (a scoreless draw with Kansas State, a team on its maiden voyage, beaten by Saint Louis, 3-1, two days before). SIUE is projected to finish seventh in the OVC standings this year, and with a road trip to Colorado this weekend, we’ll get see whether the Cougars show any signs of being able to fight above those expectations.

Next week’s matches: Friday at Denver; Sunday at Colorado State

Brandi Ortega — UCLA (PAC-12)

Results: W, 5-0, at San Diego State

It’s too early to say the Bruins are back from ruins but the 5-0 win over San Diego State shows some promise as we await 2017 and the coming of Mallory Pugh (for a season. Maybe). Darian Jenkins scored a hat trick in an eight-minute span in the first half and the Bruins never looked back. For good measure, Amber Munerlyn did this:

UCLA’s nonconference schedule is tough, with upcoming matches against Texas A&M and Florida that will help the Bruins prepare for the tough Pac-12 portion of the season.

Next week’s matches: Friday at Texas A&M; Sunday vs. Florida