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.
West Virginia remains the No. 1 and Oklahoma returns to OGM’s Top 25.
So That Happened
Results from key games.
Texas Tech 0–1 West Virginia
More than 2,000 fans came out on a cool Friday evening to watch OGM’s No. 1-ranked West Virginia square off against Texas Tech, a team that beat the Mountaineers in the final of the Big 12 Tournament last year. And they did not walk away disappointed as Hannah Abraham delivered a brilliant strike inside the final 10 minutes to beat Texas Tech. But here’s the thing: West Virginia dominated the tempo in this match. I do not recall Rylee Foster getting tested at all by Texas Tech, a team that needed to play desperate because their ranking in the Big 12 has been slipping over the past fortnight, and that’s just more of the same for the Mountaineers. They haven’t given up a goal in roughly 500 minutes of play and yes, a good portion of that is due to having one of the best center backs in women’s soccer right now in Kadeisha Buchanan (seriously, how is that even fair at the college level? #GreatRecruiting) playing in front of Foster. Now West Virginia have a trip to Texas to play the Longhorns and TCU but I don’t see anyone getting through this team for a while after that performance. — JJ
Virginia 0–1 Duke
Senior nights can be roller coaster affairs. With the pre-match festivities and the emotions that come with celebrating players’ collegiate careers, getting back into the right mindset to compete can be difficult. And with Duke hosting Virginia, a team they haven’t beaten in nine years, that’s a whole separate task in and of itself. Chances were few and far in between and it wasn’t until past the hour mark when Duke’s Chelsea Burns got into the area and was dragged down by the Cavs’ Betsy Brandon, forcing the referee to point to the spot. Christina Gibbons coolly slotted home the penalty, giving the Blue Devils captain points in five straight. Virginia didn’t have much of an answer until the final 10 minutes when Brianna Westrup connected on a corner kick, but a well-positioned Morgan Reid cleared off the line and confirmed the clean sheet. Duke are 6-0-1 heading into the final few ACC matches and are a safe bet to have a No. 1 or No. 2 seed locked up for the conference tournament. Virginia are still inside the top half (the ACC have gone back to an eight-team tournament format) but their safety net is only two points and with matches against NC State, BC, and Louisville to finish out the season, they will have to grind out results to make the postseason. — JJ
Florida 0–1 (2 OT) South Carolina
Wow, wow, wow. South Carolina is a soccer program we have come to associate with really strong defensive performances, but I still find my jaw dropping every time I remember they are top of the SEC table and have yet to lose a match this season. My jaw dropped even further thanks to this defensive performance against the Gators, holding Savannah Jordan to just two shots on goal in the 102 minutes (aka all of the minutes in the entire game) she logged in the double-overtime match. The Gamecocks have allowed just two goals in their eight SEC matches this season, and just six goals in total all season. They’ve notched nine shutouts this season, with eight of those clean sheets coming in their past 10 games. South Carolina is ranked first in the SEC in both goals-against-average and save percentage, but last in saves per game! They aren’t getting scored on because they aren’t even giving teams a chance to put shots on goal. Offensively, it’s not the most beautiful thing, especially in this one as the Gamecocks needed a double-overtime penalty to get the victory, but when the defense is guaranteed to keep you in the game, all you may need is one goal to advance come tourney time. As for Florida, this game was another step in the right direction for their porous defense. The Gators have shutouts in three of their last five games, and haven’t allowed more than a single goal since September 22. Baby steps, y’all, baby steps. — Rachael
Upcoming Games to Watch
Find a screen to watch these games.
Duke vs. Florida State
If there was ever a time to travel to Tallahassee, the time is right now for Duke. They are unbeaten in eight straight and are tops in the conference by a few points. Florida State is having, well… an un-Florida State-like season. And that’s saying something because they are still 10-2-2 and are No. 6 in the OGM poll. But Mark Krikorian’s team is 2-1-2 in its last five matches and have played down to the level of their opponents at times (the loss to Boston College and the draw to Syracuse say a lot). Plus, they are still without Deyna Castellanos, who has been an absolute star for Venezuela in the U-17 Women’s World Cup, and need someone to pick up the scoring load. If I were Duke, I would put everything I have into this one because there is a real good chance you might walk out of Tallahassee with three points, which is a rarity in women’s college soccer. — JJ
Minnesota vs. Northwestern
The Big Ten has been weird this year. Nobody wants to grab the lead in the standings and run with it, which has made these last two rounds of play really exciting as four teams have a realistic chance to win the regular-season title. And both Northwestern and Minnesota are in the conversation. The Wildcats have flown under almost everyone’s radar this season but they possess a stingy defense (five goals allowed in 16 matches) and the attitude to grind out a result no matter the circumstance. However, if there is a tougher team than Northwestern to break down in the Big Ten, that title belongs to the Gophers. Tarah Hobbs has only allowed three goals in conference play while the Simone Kolander express continues to torment Big Ten defenses. I believe the winner of this game has a real chance to jump Penn State for the conference regular-season crown because they, like others, just haven’t closed it out yet. And with a one-point gap with two to play, any slip means one of these two teams are ready to pounce on the chance. — JJ
Miami (OH) vs. Kent State (Editor’s Choice)
How about a little Thursday afternoon #MACtion for you all (yes, #MACtion is still very much alive, and it works in all sports, not just football). This is a battle of 1-v-2 in the MAC East Division and a rematch of the 4-v-5 quarterfinal contest in the MAC Tournament last year, in which the RedHawks outlasted the Golden Flashes, 4-3 in penalties after a scoreless 110 minutes. And both of these teams have a win against a power conference this season (Kent State knocked off Pittsburgh on the road while Miami beat Illinois earlier this season) so this isn’t a match to take lightly. The Golden Flashes are riding a 12-match unbeaten streak (10-0-2) after losing their opener to Ohio State and are led by reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year Jenna Hellstrom, who has scored 10 goals and assisted on eight others this season. Miami, on the other hand, likes to keep things close and will rely on their defense and goalkeeping to carry them in this match, as the squad has pitched seven shutouts this season. Expect the winner of this match to have an inside track towards a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the MAC Tournament as the season winds down. — JJ
The players who made a difference this past week.
Kaleigh Kurtz, South Carolina
Just went on and on and on about that Gamecock defense so I’m gonna give some love to senior defender and SEC Defensive Player of the Week, Kaleigh Kurtz for her shutdown, shutout effort against the ever dangerous Savannah Jordan this weekend. The Gators didn’t get off a single shot in overtime and only had four shots on goal in the entire game. Kurtz has played every single minute of SEC action for South Carolina this season, leading a back line that’s shutout six of their eight conference opponents so far. If defense really, truly wins championships (the Western New York Flash may have something to say about that), then keep your eyes on Kurtz and the Gamecocks come postseason. — Rachael
Averie Collins, Stanford
The sophomore forward scored the game-winning goal with seconds — two to be exact — to spare to lift Stanford over Oregon State. It was Collins’ second goal of the night and came after her first goal just before halftime brought the Cardinal level with the Beavers. It was a highly efficient night as well: two shots and two goals is as neat and tidy as it comes. Friday’s effort comes on the heels of a productive run for Collins in which the sophomore has scored all four of her goals this season during the past six-game stretch. — Brandi
#TeamOGM Alma Mater Watch
A new addition to the our College Coverage as we take a look at how each of the #TeamOGM alma mater’s are stacking up this season. Biased? We hope so.
Rachael Caldwell — Arkansas (SEC)
Results: L, 2-3, at Auburn
As I’ve said since Arkansas’ win over Florida, their final two Prove Ya-self Matches would come in road tests against South Carolina and Auburn. They lost both. WELP. We will get into it more when it’s time for our usual Team OGM NCAA tournament preview extravaganza, but I can now confidently say Arkansas will not make the College Cup unless some seeds get upset. Bold statement, I know. That being said, should Arkansas close out the season with wins in their final three regular-season games, which should happen if this team is to be considered a contender, they may just have locked up the first national tournament seed in program history. They may also have a legitimate shot at winning the SEC Tournament? I still have to pinch myself that this season is for real. Setbacks against the Gamecocks and the Tigers hurt, but they were on the road, and the Hogs at least attempted to make a game of it against Auburn. The silver lining is that this team can learn the lessons from those losses now, so that when the NCAA Tournament rolls around, this team is ready for anything.
Up next: Thursday vs. Missouri, Sunday vs. Kentucky
JJ Duke — Rider University (MAAC)
Results: T, 1-1, vs. Manhattan; L, 1-2 (2,OT), vs. Marist
Dropping points at home is never fun, but man, that loss to Marist stings like no other. I’m not going to say that a path to a top-two finish in the MAAC Tournament in two weeks was gift-wrapped, but it didn’t come a whole lot easier than what was laid in front of the Broncs. We outplayed Manhattan on Wednesday but a result against a team that went to the conference final last year isn’t terrible. But conceding in the final 20 minutes on Senior Day to force overtime against Marist wasn’t fun, and losing only hurt the proceedings more. But, what makes me stay positive is we play two teams inside the bottom third of the conference to finish out the regular season and Rider has always done well against Iona and Fairfield in recent years. Win out, and with a little help elsewhere, it’s only two steps to take for a second MAAC title in three years as opposed to having to play an extra match if we finish third (or fourth… but I don’t want to go there).