Grace Norbury joins Sophie Bui at Alabama State

The pipeline from Australia to Alabama State University continues to deliver, with former Australian Schoolgirls representative Norbury signing with the Hornets.

The pipeline from Australia to Alabama State University continues to deliver, with former Australian Schoolgirls representative Grace Norbury signing with the Hornets. Norbury becomes the fifth Australian to sign with the Hornets in recent years, following Katherine McCleary, Anastasia McCleary, Sophie Bui and 2014 College Matildas Player of the Year, Shelbi Vienna-Hallam.

With 67 NPL Victoria first team appearances under her belt, Norbury has already proven herself amongst high-level competition, spending two seasons with Bayside United before moving to Box Hill United for the 2019 season. Whilst at Box Hill United, Norbury played alongside former Central Connecticut State striker Emma Hubbard and one-time Oregon State fullback Olivia Ellis in a team that finished 5th, just one point shy of a finals berth.

However, it is the list of Australian Schoolgirls teammates that Norbury has played with that will catch the eye, not only of college soccer fans, but W-League fans. The 2017 team that Norbury played on featured 2019 College Matildas Freshman of the Year, Eliza Ammendolia, as well as UMBC pair Abi Jordan and Teal Kilbride, Wyoming midfielder Indianna Asimus, and former Wyoming striker Caitlin Pickett. That side, which toured the US, also featured Sydney FC striker Shadeene Evans, and brought home the SoCal Winter Cup whilst also reaching the semi-final of the Dallas Cup.

“A true box to box midfielder that can both win the ball in defence and quickly transition into supporting our attack going forward,” is how Alabama State coach Jodie Smith described Norbury, and considering the Hornets’ statistical marks of recent years, the Victorian could be the perfect fit. Alabama State’s numbers in terms of both scoring and conceding goals have faltered slightly in recent seasons, particularly at the defensive end. If Norbury can step in and plug the gaps in midfield, hopefully the Hornets can bring their goals against average down from an eye-watering 2.7 in 2019 so the 2.04 they posted in 2018, or even lower still.

Norbury’s signing doubles the number of Australians on the Alabama State roster, with Sophie Bui having made 10 appearances for the Hornets in 2019. Having won consecutive SWAC Championships in 2016 and 2017, Alabama State will be hoping their Australian pairing can help return them to the promised land of the NCAA Tournament following two early exits in the conference tournament in the past two seasons.

UCLA legend Teagan Micah returns to the W-League with Melbourne Victory

(Photo Credit: Don Liebig/ASUCLA)

Following a storied four years at UCLA in which she established herself as one of the program’s greats, Teagan Micah has quickly moved back into the W-League ranks, inking a deal with Melbourne Victory. Micah’s arrival strengthens an already-strong goalkeeping corps for Victory, with Casey Dumont in outstanding form and Melissa Maizels a capable backup.

Fresh off a second College Cup appearance as UCLA reached the semi-finals of the NCAA Tournament, Micah once again demonstrated her prowess as one of the top goalkeepers in the college ranks to round out an outstanding career. 11 clean sheets in 19 appearances saw Micah set a career-high for shutouts in a season, having made nine in each of her first two seasons and eight in 2018. With 243 career saves and just 68 goals conceded in 83 appearances, Micah finished her time at UCLA conceding just 0.82 goals per game whilst maintaining a save percentage of 78.1%.

Micah’s college career is littered with highlights, including a College Cup semi-final shootout victory over Duke in 2017 and a quite stunning performance against local rivals USC in a 3-2 overtime victory on the final day of conference play in the same season as UCLA eventually reached the championship game before falling to Beattie Goad and Stanford. On a personal level, Micah’s eight Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week awards are the most in the history of the honour, which was first awarded in 2014.

The former Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper also earned a spot with the Matildas on multiple occasions, firstly as an emergency call-up for the 2017 Tournament of Nations before returning to the squad in April 2019. Micah was also named as one of three goalkeepers in the Matildas World Cup squad, but continues to await her first cap for the senior national team.

With just five appearances at W-League level for Western Sydney prior to leaving for UCLA, Micah will be hoping to quickly add to that number as she battles Dumont for the starting spot between the sticks. Having been named to this week’s squad the UCLA legend has the chance to make her debut for Victory against her former club, with the reigning premiers hosting Brisbane Roar at 10:30am on Saturday morning.

Micah’s arrival adds to a burgeoning contingent of former NCAA Division I players in the W-League, joining former Florida International star Amy Jackson at the Victory. Adelaide United quartet Dylan Holmes, Isabel Hodgson, Laura Johns, and Kahlia Hogg all have Division I experience, as do Canberra United’s Rebekah Horsey, Melbourne City’s Aivi Luik, Brisbane Roar’s Isobel Dalton, and Western Sydney Wanderers’ Alexandra Huynh.

Sydney FC midfielder Amy Sayer signs with national champions Stanford

(Photo: Stanford celebrate their 2019 College Cup win over North Carolina. Credit: Jim Shorin/isiphotos.com)

Beattie Goad’s career with Stanford may have wrapped up with her recent College Cup success, but the Cardinal will continue to maintain an Aussie presence as Sydney FC and Matildas midfielder Amy Sayer signs with the program. A member of the Young Matildas setup since the age of 14, Sayer has also earned three Matildas caps, and was a member of Sydney FC’s championship-winning W-League squad in 2018/19, albeit in a season hampered by injury.

Primarily an attacking midfielder, Sayer has long been earmarked as part of the future of the national team setup, as evidenced by her selection for the Matildas squad for the 2018 Tournament of Nations as well as the two-game tour to France and England at the age of 17. However, after being selected for the Matildas’ friendlies against Chile in November 2018, Sayer was forced to withdraw from the squad with a stress fracture in her foot, which also cost the young starlet the remainder of the W-League season with Sydney FC after just one appearance for the Sky Blues.

Having moved from Canberra United after the 2017/18 season, Sayer has been restricted to just two appearances for Sydney FC, but the second of those came last week in a win over Newcastle Jets, marking her return to the top level of club football in Australia. However, Sayer did manage 10 NPL NSW appearances for North West Sydney Koalas in 2019, bringing up her 50th appearance in the competition in the process after debuting at the age of 14.

Sayer joins Stanford as one of just two pure midfielders in the signing class of nine, but four others are listed as either defender/midfielder or midfielder/forward. At first glance, this certainly looks to be a class for the future, with the Cardinal returning nine starters from the 2019 College Cup side. However, with recruiting classes as good as those that Stanford put together, there are always freshmen who make an impact from the outset, and Sayer could easily be one of those.

Sayer becomes the second player in recent times to make their Matildas debut prior to heading to college, joining UCLA midfielder Rachel Lowe, who debuted at the 2018 Algarve Cup in a 2-0 victory over China. Teammates at the Young Matildas level, Lowe and Sayer had been rivals at W-League level, with Lowe playing for Western Sydney Wanderers and Sayer on the Sydney FC roster last season. Now, it will be Lowe in blue and Sayer in a shade of red as the next crop continues the UCLA v Stanford storyline built by Teagan Micah and Beattie Goad in recent seasons.

Twice as nice for Beattie Goad as Stanford win College Cup

(Photo Credit: Stanford Athletics)

Beattie Goad has become the first Australian to win two College Cup titles as Stanford followed up their 2017 success over UCLA with a penalty shootout victory over North Carolina in the 2019 final. The Cardinal were held goalless for just the second time this season, but the undoubted top team all year held their nerve in the shootout to grab their third title in program history.

2019 NCAA Division I College Cup Final

Stanford (Beattie Goad) 0-0 North Carolina (Stanford won 5-4 on penalties)

Stanford v North Carolina. The country’s pre-eminent program of the last few seasons against one of the most storied programs in the history of college sports. The teams have already faced off once in a national championship game, with Jessica McDonald’s third minute goal delivering North Carolina the 2009 title. However, that game is ancient history with regards to this contest, as Stanford came in as heavy favourites.

With both teams possessing elite talent both in attack and defence, this match could have gone any number of ways. The first half failed to produce a goal, but it was by no means a cagey affair as Stanford piled on the pressure throughout the first 45 minutes. This was evidenced as much as anything by the fact that Stanford finished the first half with 7 corners to UNC’s zero, but it meant little as the scoreboard read 0-0 at halftime.

The early stages of the second half saw UNC come out firing, dominating the early stages and going the closest of either team to a goal in regulation time as Alessia Russo just failed to meet Isabel Cox’s ball across the box with the goal wide open. Stanford had chances of their own, with Beattie Goad finding Catarina Macario in the area, but the Brazilian-born superstar was unable to fashion an opening. Macario would test North Carolina goalkeeper Claudia Dickey on a number of occasions later in the piece, but the Tar Heels custodian remained up to the task. A frenetic final few minutes of regulation failed to result in a goal, and with 90 minutes unable to split the teams, golden goal overtime followed.

The end of regulation spelled the end of Goad’s time on the pitch as a Stanford player as the senior was subbed out for the final time at the start of overtime. With players noticeably tiring, opportunities opened up, but although North Carolina managed three shots to Stanford’s zero, a second overtime would be required.

Both teams forced saves out of the opposition goalkeepers, before Sophia Smith, who would later be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, crashed a shot against the crossbar with Dickey soundly beaten. It was the closest either team had been to scoring all day in a game, and it almost ended the game just 95 seconds before the final whistle.

But to penalties we would go. Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer saved Taylor Otto’s penalty to kick things off, but Dickey would return the favour on Carly Malatskey’s shot to knot things up at 3-3 through four shots. Both teams slotted their next penalty, before Meyer came up with her second save of the shootout to leave Kiki Pickett with the opportunity to win it all. The junior calmly buried her penalty past Dickey, sending both the Stanford team and a crowd heavily populated with Cardinal faithful into raptures as they celebrated the team’s third national title and second in three years.

Beattie Goad finished her college career playing 39 minutes in an impact role off the bench, a role in which she had excelled most of the season after starting earlier in the year when injuries had taken their toll on the Stanford team. Goad’s second title is also the third for an Australian in four years, following Lulu Pullar’s success with USC in the 2016 College Cup.

2019 NCAA Division I College Cup Semi-Finals

Washington State (Aly Hay) 1-2 North Carolina

History dictated that North Carolina should roll to victory in this fixture, but history doesn’t play the game, and Morgan Weaver demonstrated that early in the piece. With Washington State piling on the pressure early in the piece courtesy of their high press, it didn’t take long for the Cougars to create something. A long ball from goalkeeper Ella Dederick was nodded on twice by Washington State players, and with North Carolina unable to adequately deal with the situation, Weaver buried a low shot from the edge of the box across Tar Heels goalkeeper Claudia Dickey for an early 1-0 advantage.

However, Washington State’s advantage lasted just 17 minutes before North Carolina star Alessia Russo tallied the equaliser, latching onto a neat chip from Taylor Otto just in front of the oncoming Dederick, nudging the ball home to tie the game at 1-1.

North Carolina would complete the turnaround in the 39th minute. Legendary coach Anson Dorrance is renowned for his mass substitutions heading into the back end of the first half, and his second unit, nicknamed the ‘Gamechangers’, did exactly that. Against a far less fresh Washington State starting lineup, Ru Mucherera got to the byline before whipping in a cross that was met at the back post by the head of Alexis Strickland, who buried the header for a 2-1 advantage.

However, Washington State certainly had their chances in the second half. The Cougars tested Dickey on a number of occasions and went close on several others, eventually outshooting the Tar Heels 10-8, with both teams finishing with four shots on target. On the balance of play, nobody would have been surprised if Washington State advanced to the final, but it would be North Carolina who moved on as they chase a 22nd national championship.

Backup goalkeeper Aly Hay may not have featured on-field for the Cougars, but was spotted front and centre of the Washington State bench’s goal celebrations following their early opener.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) 4-1 UCLA (Rachel Lowe, Teagan Micah)

For the sixth time in four seasons, Teagan Micah and Beattie Goad faced off, with Goad and Stanford looking to maintain a perfect record in games between the two sides in that timespan. It took just six minutes for the first goal to transpire, but it wouldn’t be Stanford taking the lead. Instead, it was UCLA’s Chloe Castaneda launching a shot from distance that Stanford goalkeeper should have done better on that saw the Bruins open the scoring.

However, just two minutes later, Stanford star Sophia Smith equalised, nutmegging Micah with a powerful low shot that skidded through on the slick surface. Suddenly, Stanford seemed to click into action, and a prolonged period of dominance followed for the Cardinal. A second goal for Stanford seemed inevitable, and it came in the 21st minute as Carly Malatskey finished powerfully to hand her side the lead.

This quickly looked as though it was to be Smith’s day, though. Running at the UCLA defence menacingly, the sophomore took every inch that the Bruins gave her, extending the lead to 3-1 after cutting inside and finishing past Micah on her left foot.

However, late in the first half, UCLA were gifted a chance as Kennedy Wesley bundled over Bruins freshman Mia Fishel in the box, resulting in a penalty. Fishel stepped up to take the spot kick, but Meyer atoned for her earlier error with the save to keep the score at 3-1 as the teams headed into halftime.

Smith then made UCLA pay for that missed penalty, sealing her hat-trick with a finish across Micah for Stanford’s fourth and final goal in the 52nd minute. Although Micah would make a season-high ten saves for the Bruins, the senior remained powerless to prevent Stanford from rolling into the final as it was Goad’s college career that would extend until Sunday.

Goad would finish the game with 2 shots off the bench, whilst UCLA freshman Rachel Lowe saw her first College Cup action, playing 11 minutes off the bench for the Bruins.

2019 College Cup Preview

(Photo Credit: Rand Bleimeister/UCLA)

Four Aussies across three teams remain in the hunt for an NCAA Division I Championship as the tournament reaches the semi-final stage. For Beattie Goad, it will be a chance to pick up a second title in four years, whilst Teagan Micah will be looking to go one better than a championship game loss to Goad and Stanford in 2017. Meanwhile, for Micah’s UCLA teammate Rachel Lowe and Washington State backup goalkeeper Aly Hay, this weekend provides an opportunity to round out their freshman seasons in the best way possible.

Washington State (Aly Hay) v North Carolina

11:00am, Saturday December 7

Live on watchESPN

Let’s take a look at the list of boilovers that Washington State have produced in this NCAA Tournament, shall we?

#1 Virginia? Check.

#2 South Carolina? Check.

#1 seed and 21-time College Cup champions North Carolina? Well, why not? When you’ve already knocked off two of the top eight teams in the nation, there is little reason to believe you can’t do it for a third time, and Washington State have the chance to do exactly that against the most storied program in NCAA women’s soccer and one of the most decorated in all of college sports.

The Cougars have hit top form at the perfect time, reaching the College Cup for the first time in program history on the back of a dream run that has seen them knock off a pair of seeds on the road as well as nationally ranked Memphis and an elite West Virginia squad that is just three years removed from playing in the national championship game. Star forward Morgan Weaver is showing the kind of form that made her a US Under-23 national team camp call-up, whilst being ably supported by Makamae Gomera-Stevens and Mackenzie Frimpong-Ellertson, both of whom have scored vital goals in this tournament. Gomera-Stevens scored the only goal against Memphis in the first round, whilst Frimpong-Ellertson tallied the winner in the 3-2 win over Virginia, a game in which Gomera-Stevens also added an assist on the Cougars’ opener. The Cougars also feature an elite level player between the sticks, with program legend Ella Dederick continuing to play a massive role for Washington State in goal. The senior has been pivotal in the Cougars’ rise, and it is fair to say that without Dederick at the back, the team would not be even close to this position.

North Carolina come into this game missing one of their star players after Emily Fox tore her ACL during their Elite Eight win over USC, but the Tar Heels roster is, as per usual, utterly stacked with talent. Alessia Russo and Brianna Pinto stand alongside Fox as MAC Hermann Trophy semi-finalists, whilst players such as Taylor Otto, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Bridgette Andrzejewski can also be considered among the top players in the nation. Add in the coaching of 21-time national champion Anson Dorrance, and the Tar Heels provide a formidable foe for all opponents.

It won’t be easy for Washington State, but neither was defeating South Carolina or Virginia, and they managed to get past both of those teams.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) v UCLA (Rachel Lowe, Teagan Micah)

1:30pm, Saturday December 7

Live on watchESPN

The matchup that has defined this era of College Matildas, Teagan Micah and Beattie Goad face off for the sixth time in four years, whilst Rachel Lowe is set to face Stanford for the first time after missing the regular season contest due to Young Matildas commitments. However, the history of the matchup doesn’t make pretty reading for the Bruins or their Aussies. Zero wins, five losses, six goals scored, eleven conceded.

But despite that dismal record, three of those losses have come in 3-2 results, making the Bruins one of the few teams that have been able to put multiple goals past Stanford in recent seasons. That also means that the other two losses have come in 1-0 games as UCLA have stifled the Stanford attack at times. What they haven’t been able to do in any of these games is score goals and hold Stanford at bay at the same time.

Teagan Micah will be bidding to keep her college career alive with a win in this game, and the senior goalkeeper will likely prove crucial to UCLA’s chances. One of the top custodians in the nation, Micah has been ever-reliable for the Bruins since the opening game of her freshman season, and remains one of the main reasons UCLA find themselves in the position they are in. Meanwhile, Rachel Lowe has been known to provide a spark off the bench, and whilst these games often see coaches run with a short rotation, there may yet come an opportunity for the freshman.

For Stanford, it will be a case of ‘more of the same, please!’ as the Cardinal look to continue their utterly dominant 2019 campaign. Having scored 98 goals and conceded just 11 in 23 games this season, the mere blip that was an early September loss to Pepperdine is now well and truly in the rearview mirror. Stanford went through the Pac-12 season undefeated, demonstrating that even the toughest conference in the nation is no match for their power. That included a 1-0 win over UCLA, the only match in which they did not score multiple goals and one of just two in which the final margin was only a single goal.

However, even in that game, Stanford conceded the princely sum of zero shots on target to UCLA as Maya Doms’ looping header proved sufficient to secure victory. The Cardinal won’t want to rely on completely suffocating the Bruins’ attack again though, and with their attack averaging 4.26 goals per game, they will not only be hoping, but expecting to give Micah a hell of a time between the sticks. Featuring as part of that attacking behemoth will be senior midfielder Beattie Goad. The Victorian has bounced between the starting lineup and making an impact off the bench throughout the season, but has performed admirably the many roles in which she has been deployed in 2019. Already with an assist in the tournament on a wicked corner against BYU, Goad sits at equal fifth in that category for Stanford with six for the season alongside three goals. UCLA may concede just 0.7 goals per game, but that number won’t even register for Stanford as they look to do what they’ve done all season – bang in a multitude of goals for fun.

NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Wrap

(Photo: Stanford Athletics)

We’ve had Aussies in the national championship game. We’ve had Aussies face off against each other in the national championship game. What we’ve never had is three teams with Aussies on the roster in the College Cup semi-finals.

UNTIL NOW.

UCLA and Stanford rolled to dominant victories on Saturday, whilst Washington State eked out another upset in overtime against South Carolina to see Rachel Lowe, Teagan Micah, Beattie Goad, and Aly Hay all book their tickets to San Jose for the College Cup.

UCLA (Rachel Lowe, Teagan Micah)

Elite Eight: defeated Florida State 4-0

Mike Tyson once said ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,’ and UCLA certainly punched first in their Elite Eight match against Florida State in Tallahassee. Three goals in just over half an hour to open the game turned what was meant to be a tight contest into a blowout even before halftime.

Chloe Castaneda was the early hero for the Bruins, opening the scoring in the eighth minute with a close-range volley to set the visitors on their way. The redshirt senior followed up just 12 minutes later, turning her defender inside out before finishing across the goalkeeper with a pinpoint finish.

Freshman sensation Mia Fishel all but wrapped the game up with still 13 minutes remaining in the first half. Latching onto an Ashley Sanchez ball, Fishel slotted home, beating the onrushing goalkeeper put the Bruins up 3-0 as Florida State found themselves without an answer for the Bruins’ dominance.

Fishel then added a fourth for the Bruins after halftime as the visitors cruised to victory. Teagan Micah was forced into just two saves as UCLA thoroughly shut down the Seminoles, whilst Rachel Lowe saw 28 minutes of action off the bench as the Bruins rolled into a College Cup semi-final against either Stanford or BYU, who would face off just two hours after the Bruins’ game wrapped up.

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

Elite Eight: defeated BYU 5-1

Stanford had been utterly ruthless in reaching the Elite Eight, but one would be forgiven for thinking that a game against #2 seed BYU would be slightly closer. It wasn’t to be, though. Stanford rode roughshod over the Cougars in the first half, opening up a 4-0 lead to secure their place in the College Cup semi-finals with still 45 minutes to play.

Catarina Macario continued her absurdly dominant season with two goals inside the opening 30 minutes to send Stanford on their way. Even at that point, the game was all but a foregone conclusion as BYU attempted to score at least two goals against a side averaging less than half a goal conceded per game.

Kiki Pickett chalked up a 3rd to extend the lead in the 41st minute, and when Beattie Goad whipped in a killer corner which was nodded on for Sam Tran to finish just two minutes later, a 4-0 halftime lead had Stanford fans checking the Caltrain timetable for the short trip to San Jose.

However, Stanford weren’t done there. Sophomore star Sophia Smith forced an own goal in the early minutes of the second half, and although BYU managed a consolation 27 minutes from time, Stanford were hardly troubled in rolling into a College Cup semi-final against UCLA.

Beattie Goad saw 32 minutes of action off the bench, with her most valuable contribution coming in her first half cameo with the assist on the Cardinal’s fourth goal.

Washington State (Aly Hay)

Elite Eight: defeated South Carolina 1-0 (OT)

UCLA and Stanford may have done it easy, but unseeded Washington State were never likely to be gifted such a comfortable path on the road at #2 seed South Carolina. In a back-and-forth game, both teams had their chances, but taking advantage of those chances proved to be a different story entirely.

Both teams finished the game with 15 shots, but despite those opportunities, the goalkeepers were largely untested. Washington State stalwart Ella Dederick was forced into just two saves, whilst South Carolina custodian Mikayla Krzeczowski faced only four shots on target.

However, that fourth shot on target for the Cougars proved to be the game-winner. Having ridden out a period of dominance from South Carolina at the back end of the second half, Washington State came up with a 96th minute goal as Mykiaa Minniss buried a corner into the roof of the net, sending the Cougars into delirium.

The win continued a dream run for Washington State, who have now knocked off a top seed in Virginia as well as a #2 seed in South Carolina on the way to their first College Cup appearance in program history.

As expected, freshman backup goalkeeper Aly Hay did not feature for the Cougars.

NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Preview

(Photo: Percy Anderson/UCLA)

Having started the NCAA Tournament with just five teams featuring Aussies, three remain alive as we head into the Elite Eight. Wins for UCLA and Stanford would see the two sides meet in the College Cup semi-finals, whilst Washington State look to keep a dream run going on the road at South Carolina.

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

Elite Eight: v BYU – 10am, Saturday November 30

Live on Stanford Live Stream

Stanford have won 16 games in a row since their sole loss of the season to Pepperdine in September, but their Elite Eight opponent won’t make it easy for the Cardinal to make it 17 on the trot. Whilst BYU play in the West Coast Conference, a slightly weaker conference than Stanford’s Pac-12, the Cougars have ridden roughshod over their entire schedule in 2019. Sitting on a 21-0-1 record, BYU are one of the few teams in the nation with a better record than Stanford, with wins over Santa Clara, Kansas, and Texas A&M among those victories. Stanford will certainly come into this game as favourites as they look to extend their 4-0 all-time record against BYU to 5-0, but this game shapes to be by far their toughest test of the NCAA Tournament to this point. The Cougars feature a trio of attackers that have combined for 48 goals this season, led by 20-goal striker Elise Flake, one of the deadliest forwards going around. Shutting Flake down, which not many teams have been able to do this season, shapes to play a large part in Stanford getting the win.

However, the Cardinal are led by the undoubted top player in the nation in Catarina Macario, who has not only banged in 30 goals but also assisted on 23 more this season. Backed up by the likes of Sophia Smith and Madison Haley, who have combined for 25 goals and 18 assists, Stanford have notched 93 goals in 21 games this season. With a defence that has shipped just 10 goals in 2019, Stanford look primed for a return trip to the College Cup and potentially a second national championship in three seasons.

Beattie Goad appears set for another cameo off the bench this weekend, and will look to add to her three goals and five assists for the season as the senior’s college career approaches its conclusion after four outstanding seasons.

UCLA (Rachel Lowe, Teagan Micah)

Elite Eight: @ Florida State – 6am, Saturday November 30

Live on ACC Network Extra (US Only)

UCLA have already beaten Florida State once this season, but that game was in Los Angeles. This time, the Bruins will travel to Tallahassee for a rematch against the Seminoles in a game with far more on the line than their non-conference game in late August. Since that game, Florida State’s three losses have all come against other teams that secured #1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament, falling twice to Virginia and once to North Carolina. However, whilst the Seminoles may have home ground advantage and the #1 next to their name, that hasn’t always translated to success in this tournament. Unseeded Washington State have already knocked off Virginia in the Round of 32, and UCLA come into this game with far more of a chance than the Cougars were given in that contest.

In fact, given the numbers posted by both teams this season, one could argue that on a neutral pitch, UCLA would be the favourites in this one. They have narrowly outscored Florida State this season, whilst conceding just 0.73 goals per game whereas the Seminoles have conceded a single goal per contest. In a weekend featuring three #1 v #2 matchups, this shapes as the tightest of them all.

Senior goalkeeper Teagan Micah shapes to be pivotal for the Bruins if they are to earn their way into the College Cup semi-finals for the second time in three seasons. The Matildas goalkeeper hasn’t always been required to perform heavy duties between the sticks this season, but when she has, Micah has regularly performed admirably. It will also be intriguing to see what role Rachel Lowe plays this weekend. The freshman has played extended minutes in UCLA’s dominant victories to this point, but how much action Lowe sees in a potential nail-biter remains to be seen.

Washington State (Aly Hay)

Elite Eight: @ South Carolina – 10am, Saturday November 30

Live on SEC Network Plus (US Only)

They’ve already beaten a #1 seed on the road in Virginia, and now Washington State look to repeat the dose against #2 seed South Carolina and reach the College Cup for the first time in program history. With just one loss this season and an SEC tournament title under their belt, South Carolina have continued their run of elite seasons in recent times, and are yet to concede a goal in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, the Gamecocks rank third in the nation in shutout percentage, keeping 17 clean sheets in 24 games so far this season.

Fortunately, Washington State’s attackers are in blistering form at the moment. With six goals across their last two games, the Cougars are hitting their straps at the perfect time to make a run at the College Cup. US Under-23 national squad member Morgan Weaver has tallied 3 goals and an assist in that time, whilst Makamae Gomera-Stevens has popped up with a goal and an assist of her own to help lead Washington State to this point. South Carolina won’t be an easy defence to penetrate, but the Cougars are in the kind of form that could see them keep this run of upsets going. Having Ella Dederick between the sticks helps too – there aren’t many goalkeepers out there that you’d prefer to have keeping you safe in a game where a clean sheet might be your only chance of securing victory without going to penalties.

There also aren’t many better goalkeepers around for a young backup to learn from, which is exactly what Aussie freshman Aly Hay continues to do as she prepares for a crack at the top job next season.