The NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer National Championship got underway this past weekend and brought with it plenty of drama and few upsets.
All but one of the seeded teams advanced to the second round, with the only casualty being #3 West Virginia. The Mountaineers lost on penalties to Georgetown after no goals were scored over the course of 110 minutes.
The number one seeds all advanced to the second round after convincing wins over their opponents.
#1 UCLA hit the ground running as three early goals saw them defeat San Diego 5-0. There were five different goal scorers and Bruins goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland kept her 53rd clean sheet, which is a NCAA record.
After the game, head coach Amanda Cromwell gave credit to her team’s blistering start to the game. “Any team you let hang around is just going to get more confident,” explained Cromwell. “So we just wanted to get on top of them early, and scoring three goals that quick was great.”
The other seeded teams in UCLA’s bracket advanced to the second round, with two of them requiring penalties. #2 Virginia ran out comfortable winners, defeating High Point 8-0 behind a hat trick from Morgan Reuther and a NCAA record five assists from Morgan Brian.
Both #3 Kentucky and #4 Pepperdine advanced after defeating SIUE and USC, respectively. Spot-kicks were required in both games after the favorites dominated regulation but could not outscore their opponent.
#3 Kentucky had 17 corners and 31 shots, but could not find the back of the net. The Wildcats had Taylor Braun to thank, as the freshman goalkeeper saved two penalties to prevent SIUE from embarrassing Kentucky on their home turf.
Despite conceding first, #4 Pepperdine came back to defeat USC on penalties after regulation finished 1-1. The shootout saw both keepers save the first attempts, before Hannah Seabert saved a second attempt in fourth round of shots.
In another section of the bracket, #1 Texas A&M beat Houston Baptist 5-0 and #2 Penn State defeated Buffalo 4-1.
Kelley Monogue scored two goals for Texas A&M, who advanced to the second round of the National Championship for the 17th consecutive season. Houston Baptist were dominated in every aspect of the game, which was the first ever in the National Championship.
#3 West Virginia were the only seeded team to lose in the first round. After regulation and overtime that did not yield a single goal, Georgetown overcame West Virginia on penalties to secure passage to the second round. Despite being outshot 30-12, Georgetown kept the clean sheet and stayed level with the Mountaineers over 110 minutes.
Georgetown head coach Dave Nolan did not play down the result and will look to cause another upset against Virginia Tech in the second round. “I’m really proud of this team. To come here and play a team of this caliber on their home field and to come away with a result, it just makes me very proud.”
#4 Notre Dame advanced to the second round after a narrow 1-0 win over Valparaiso. Kaleigh Olmstead’s volley with 50 seconds remaining secured victory for the Fighting Irish.
All four seeded teams in Stanford’s quarter of the bracket went through after Stanford, Florida, Texas Tech and Washington won their games in regulation.
It was not all smiles for Stanford, as they overcame a 2-0 halftime deficit to win 5-2. One of the biggest upsets in women’s college soccer history was on the cards when Cal State Fullerton scored two goals in the opening half hour and headed into the break two goals to the good. It was not until the 60th minute that Stanford responded through a Chioma Ubogagu free kick.
Within 28 minutes Stanford had scored four more, two of which came courtesy of Ubogagu, who clinched her hat trick in the 88th minute. “I really believe in the team and everyone on the field,” revealed Ubogagu. “I’m just really proud that we showed great character, especially in the second half.” Stanford face Arkansas in the second round and will look to avoid an early scare.
Florida was victorious over Mercer, while Texas Tech routed Prairie View 8-0. Florida scored two goals in the last ten minutes to advance to the second round, while Texas Tech’s Janine Beckie scored a hat trick in the first 22 minutes to guide the Red Raiders to the next round.
McKenzie Karas scored the lone goal for Washington as they defeated Rider 1-0. Rider were making their debut in the NCAA Tournament and defended valiantly as they were outshot 21-3, but Washington proved too much for the debutants.
In the last quarter of the bracket, Florida State dispatched South Alabama 5-0, while North Carolina advanced to their 33rd straight second round appearance in the National Championship by defeating South Dakota State 2-0.
The Seminoles scored four second half goals to send South Alabama packing, while their ACC rivals, North Carolina, outshot South Dakota State 19-2 and scored two first half goals to meet Colorado in the second round.
South Carolina were not as convincing in their first round match. The Gamecocks and Clemson could not find the back of the net over 110 minutes, so penalties were required to see South Carolina through to the next round. Sabrina D’Angelo saved two penalties in the shootout to send the Gamecocks through.
D’Angelo redeemed herself from a mistake against the same opposition earlier in the season to send South Carolina to the second round. “That goal [versus Clemson in a 1-0 loss on 9/5] was totally my fault earlier on in the season,” D’Angelo admitted. “So to come up big in penalties was huge.”
#4 Wisconsin defeated DePaul 2-0 in snowy conditions to setup a matchup versus UCF in the second round. With the temperature in the 20s, Cara Walls scored both goals and Genevieve Richard kept a clean sheet in the blizzard-like conditions.
While the first round was filled with drama and heartbreak, the favorites remain in the tournament. But as the tournament goes on, the underdogs will gain confidence and momentum and will hope to upend the favorites to make the College Cup when it rolls around in December in Boca Raton, Florida.
The second round kicks off on November 21st, with the third round taking place two days later. Be sure to check back on the 22nd with a recap of the second round and a preview of the exciting matchups to come.
View the rest of the qualifying teams and find more information on the Championship by visiting the NCAA Women’s Soccer Website: Click Here