The quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship are set after the second and third round matches were played out over the weekend.
While the seeded teams make up all of the eight remaining colleges, the two most recent rounds were not without upsets, close calls, and nail-biting finishes.
Let’s preview the four matches that take place this weekend before the tournament moves to Boca Raton, Florida for the College Cup.
#1 UCLA take on #2 Virginia
In a rematch of the 2013 semifinal, UCLA play Virginia on Friday. UCLA will look to repeat the result after they defeated Virginia on penalties before going on to win their first-ever national championship.
UCLA eased past Harvard in the second round, defeating the Crimson 7-0. Ten separate players were involved in the goals, with Killion leading the way with two goals and an assist. Pepperdine were the next team that fell to UCLA, with Sam Mewis scoring in the 87th minute to secure a 1-0 victory. UCLA comes into the game versus Virginia on the back of a ten game shutout streak thanks to the exploits of Katelyn Rowland.
Virginia advanced the third round after beating Rutgers 3-0. All three goals came in the space of seven second half minutes. Brittany Ratcliffe led the way with a goal and an assist. #4 Kentucky did not pose a threat in the third round, with the Cavaliers winning 7-0. Makenzy Doniak recorded a hat trick and two assists, with Morgan Brian notching two goals and two assists.
This quarterfinal match should be exciting with Sam Mewis’ 16 goals as a midfielder and Rowland’s goalkeeping reason why UCLA remain favorites. Virginia will hope to avenge their semifinal loss from a year ago and will rely upon netminder Morgan Stearns to keep the Bruins at bay and for Doniak to improve upon her record of scoring in 10 of the last 11 games.
#1 Texas A&M host #2 Penn State
The Aggies play Penn State on Saturday night with the winner advancing to the semifinals being held in South Florida next month. Texas A&M have never been to the College Cup, while Penn State will want to advance for the second time in three years.
Penn State comes into this quarterfinal matchup after two hard-fought wins. The first came in a narrow 1-0 win over UConn. Frannie Crouse scored the lone goal seven minutes in and the Nittany Lions held on for the win thanks to Britt Eckerstrom in goal. Their second win was a 2-1 result over Virginia Tech. It was an even game throughout, with Mallory Weber heading in the decisive goal in the 71st minute.
Texas A&M beat Arizona 7-2 in the second round. During the regular season, Arizona held the Aggies to a 2-2 draw, but could do nothing as Texas A&M overpowered them in every aspect. The Aggies were 5-0 up at the break, thanks to Kelley Monogue and Allie Bailey scoring two goals each while Annie Kunz scored the first of the game. In the third round versus #4 Notre Dame, Monogue scored yet another brace to win 2-1. Notre Dame had the majority of the shots, but most of them were off target.
As the number one seed, Texas A&M should be considered favorites, but Penn State will look to continue their good run of results and work their way to a first-ever title, losing their only final in 2012.
#3 South Carolina travel to play #1 Florida State
South Carolina will play Florida State on Friday night after the biggest result in their history.
South Carolina did not look convincing in their first two games of the tournament: they did not score in either game and advanced courtesy of penalty shootouts. The Gamecocks finally scored a goal in the third round and beat #2 North Carolina 1-0. The Tar Heels, who have won 21 national championships, could not find a way past South Carolina. But Raina Johnson scored the decisive goal and Abbey Crider made a number of great saves as number one goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo was injured.
Florida State posted their second and third clean sheets of the tournament after defeating Northeastern 3-0 and UCF 1-0. Kirsten Crowley had a goal and an assist versus Northeastern, while Kristin Grubka scored the lone goal in the third round game against UCF. Central Florida came into the game on the back of a memorable 3-2 win over #4 Wisconsin and fought well against the Seminoles, but Grubka found the net from two yards after a well-worked set piece.
Florida State has reached the semifinals the past three years, but has yet to win the title. South Carolina has never made it this far in the national championship, but will hope to add the Seminoles to their list of scalps, which already includes Texas A&M and Missouri.
#1 Stanford play #2 Florida
Stanford will need to beat Florida in order to take part in their sixth College Cup. Stanford has reached the semifinals in five of the last six years, while Florida will want to reach the stage for the first time since 2001. These two teams met in September, with Stanford winning courtesy of a Lo’eau LaBonta penalty.
Lo’eau LaBonta’s skill from the spot is the reason Stanford has reached the quarterfinals. Arkansas and Washington lost to Stanford in the second and third round respectively by 1-0 score lines. Both goals were penalties that were scored by LaBonta down the middle. The penalty versus Washington was actually saved, but LaBonta fired in the rebound.
Florida got into the quarterfinal after beating California 3-1 and #3 Texas Tech 3-2. The Gators scored two goals in the opening 13 minutes on their way to the win against California. In the third round Florida led a two-goal lead slip to Texas Tech, before Annie Speese scored the winner with nine minutes left to play. Speese also had an assist earlier in the game and Savannah Jordan also had a goal and assist.
The Gators will hope to reverse the scoreline from their meeting with Stanford earlier in the season. Stanford hosted the Gators on September 12 and won in overtime. Meanwhile, Stanford hopes to advance to the College Cup after missing out in 2013.
Every woman’s soccer program has the goal of winning the NCAA Division I National championship. The original field of 64 has been narrowed down to these eight teams, all of which have a great chance to make the trip to Boca Raton and lay claim to the best woman’s soccer program in the country.
View all results and find more information on the Championship by visiting the NCAA Women’s Soccer Website: Click Here