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.

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