2019 NCAA Tournament Preview

(Image: Rand Bleimeister/UCLA)

2019 sees five teams featuring Australians enter the NCAA Tournament, and all have real opportunities to make deep runs. Beattie Goad and Stanford have secured the #1 overall seed, and we could see the Cardinal face another Aussie-laden side in Hofstra in the Round of 32. Meanwhile, Teagan Micah and Rachel Lowe will look to lead UCLA back to the College Cup for the first time since 2017 after a sublime finish to the regular season. Demi Koulizakis will look to bang home a few goals as Texas Tech attempt to take advantage of their #4 seeding, whilst backup goalkeeper Aly Hay will no doubt be ready if called upon for Washington State.

Hofstra (Monique Iannella, Grace Watson Carr)

First Round: v Loyola Chicago – 5am, Sunday November 17

Hofstra dominated the Colonial Athletic Association once again in 2019, securing their third consecutive conference championship with an undefeated league season that culminated in a 5-1 win over James Madison in the title game. The Pride finished 15-3-2, with all three of their losses coming to top-25 RPI sides as they ran roughshod over the majority of their opponents. Having earned hosting rights for the opening round, Hofstra now face Missouri Valley Conference champions Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers put together a solid season, albeit in a weaker conference than Hofstra, dropping just four games on their way to the conference title. Hofstra will certainly be favoured here, but should they get through Loyola, improving upon last year’s second-round exit will be tough; the Pride are slated to face Beattie Goad’s Stanford outfit on the road in the Round of 32.

It unfortunately seems unlikely that either Grace Watson Carr or Monique Iannella will see any playing time in this one, but if the game descends into a blowout, we could see some bench cameos in the latter stages.

Tale of the Tape

Hofstra Team Loyola Chicago
15-3-2 Record (W-L-D) 14-4-1
16 RPI Rank 57
2.5 Goals Per Game 1.84
1.35 Goals Conceded Per Game 1

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

First Round: v Prairie View A&M – 2pm, Saturday November 16

The overall #1 seed in the tournament for the fourth consecutive season, Stanford have once again carved out an exceptional regular season and given themselves the best possible chance at tournament success. Smashing home an impressive 72 goals in an 18-1 campaign that included a perfect conference record, Stanford look primed for a repeat run to the College Cup for the third consecutive season. Standing in their way first up is Prairie View A&M, the champions of the SWAC. However, first round games have barely proven to be an obstacle in recent seasons. Stanford have scored 16 goals and conceded just 1 in their last three opening round encounters, with that one conceded goal coming in a 9-1 win over Utah Valley in 2017.

It also shapes to be intriguing to see how much playing time Beattie Goad sees in the tournament this year. Having come off the bench for much of the season, the Victorian tallied two assists in a Senior Day start, and that may have garnered Goad a few more minutes on the pitch at the most crucial stage.

Tale of the Tape

Stanford Team Prairie View A&M
18-1-0 Record (W-L-D) 13-7-0
1 RPI Rank 246
3.79 Goals Per Game 1.4
0.52 Goals Conceded Per Game 0.95

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

First Round: v Pepperdine – Saturday November 16

Texas Tech reached the Big 12 semi-finals before falling to TCU, but had been all but guaranteed an at-large bid for at least a couple of weeks prior to that defeat. A well-balanced Red Raiders team with a stingy and defence and high-powered offence dropped just three games across the course of the season, snagging a #4 seeding in the process. However, they have been rewarded with a tricky opponent in the form of Pepperdine. The Waves may have dropped six games this season, but one of their 11 wins came against the might of Stanford, handing the Cardinal their only loss of the season.

Demi Koulizakis has been a crucial part of the Red Raiders attack all year, producing four goals and five assists to be among the best Aussies in both categories. Texas Tech will need not only Koulizakis, but the entire attack to be at their best if they are to secure a second victory in as many years against Pepperdine; the Red Raiders knocked off a nationally ranked Waves side 1-0 early in 2018.

Tale of the Tape

Texas Tech Team Pepperdine
15-3-2 Record (W-L-D) 11-6-2
20 RPI Rank 46
2.1 Goals Per Game 1.79
0.65 Goals Conceded Per Game 1.16

UCLA (Rachel Lowe, Teagan Micah)

First Round: v Lamar – 1pm, Saturday November 16

Live on UCLA Live Stream

Between September 19 and October 3rd, UCLA’s results went as follows: draw, win, loss, loss. That is but ancient history now though, as the Bruins won eight of their last nine games, only dropping a 1-0 decision to Stanford. That barnstorming finish earned UCLA a 2nd seed that looked rather unlikely six weeks earlier, and with it a match against Southland Conference champions Lamar. The Cardinals feature one of the most prolific offences in the nation, chalking up 69 goals in 22 games. However, they are yet to face a defence of UCLA’s ilk, much less a goalkeeper of Teagan Micah’s class. UCLA concede an average of less than a goal per game, with Micah keeping seven clean sheets this season.

Rachel Lowe should also be back for the Bruins after her Young Matildas commitments, having finished fourth at the recent Under 19 Asian Championship. The freshman has seen a decent amount of playing time in her first season, and will no doubt be champing at the bit to get her first taste of NCAA Tournament action.

Tale of the Tape

UCLA Team Lamar
14-4-1 Record (W-L-D) 16-6-0
7 RPI Rank 87
1.95 Goals Per Game 3.14
0.78 Goals Conceded Per Game 1.87

Washington State (Aly Hay)

First Round: v Memphis – 12pm, Saturday November 16

Live on Washington State Live Stream

On paper, Washington State have found themselves in one of the tightest games of the opening round as they take on Memphis, who sit a single position above them in the RPI rankings. Memphis have lost just twice this season, with one of those losses coming in the American Athletic Conference championship game. However, Washington State will host this game and have lost only twice in nine games on the Palouse this season. If they are to secure victory, the Cougars will have to slow down Memphis’ attack, which has produced 2.7 goals per game. Fortunately, Washington State give up just 1.16 goals per game, but on the 12 occasions they did concede a goal this year, they gave up multiple goals on five occasions. Memphis’ defence is even more stingy, conceding just 0.55 goals per game, but they have rarely faced teams of the same calibre that Washington State have.

As a backup behind one of the top goalkeepers in the nation in Ella Dederick, it of course seems unlikely that Aly Hay will see any playing time in this year’s tournament. However, with Dederick moving on to the professional ranks next season, expect to see the Canadian-Australian between the sticks in future tournaments.

Tale of the Tape

Washington State Team Memphis
12-6-1 Record (W-L-D) 17-2-1
27 RPI Rank 26
1.89 Goals Per Game 2.7
1.16 Goals Conceded Per Game 0.55

Where Could They Meet?

Hofstra v Stanford – Round of 32
Hofstra v Texas Tech – Final
Hofstra v UCLA – Semi-Final
Hofstra v Washington State – Final
Stanford v Texas Tech – Final
Stanford v UCLA – Semi-Final
Stanford v Washington State – Final
Texas Tech v UCLA – Final
Texas Tech v Washington State – Final
UCLA v Washington State – Final

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