With four games featuring Aussies in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, we currently stand at 50% of the maximum possible remaining teams heading into the second round. USC and Hofstra advanced, whilst we bade farewell to Butler, Stanford, and Grand Canyon following an engrossing opening couple of days of the tournament. USC returned to form with a crushing 6-0 win over Grand Canyon, whilst nobody will want to face Hofstra in the upcoming rounds after their 3-0 win over Providence.
Butler (Claire Farrington) lost to Wisconsin 2-1
Butler were perhaps unlucky to be on the road against a Wisconsin team that finished 8-5-6, but the NCAA Tournament bracket has never been a place to expect fairness, and the Bulldogs headed to Madison for their first-round contest. In a closely fought battle, Wisconsin opened the scoring in the 23rd minute through Natalie Viggiano and took that 1-0 lead into halftime. However, Butler were far from done and equalised in the 70th minute as star midfielder Katie Soderstrom assisted Morgan Kloosterman to set up an exciting final 20 minutes. The home side would hit back just five minutes later, as Viggiano tallied her second of the game, a goal which would prove to be the game-winner as Wisconsin advanced to the second round to face UC Irvine, who edged past #2 seed UCLA 1-0 in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.
Claire Farrington came off the bench for Butler in the win, playing just five minutes at the back end of the first half in her final contest of the campaign.
USC (Isabel Rolley, Talia Grossman) defeated Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill) 6-0
Star midfielder Croix Bethune ended this one almost as quickly as it started, completing a hat-trick within 8 minutes and 45 seconds of kick-off to give USC an almost insurmountable lead. Bethune then assisted on Simi Awujo’s goal in the 19th minute to put the Trojans up 4-0, effectively ending the match as a contest within 20 minutes. USC would put together a similar start to the second half, with Penelope Hocking and Aaliyah Farmer adding to the Trojans’ tally inside the 48-minute mark, with the final 42 minutes of the contest surprisingly remaining scoreless. In an opening round that saw a number of national powerhouses fall by the wayside, USC ensured there would be no upset at McAllister Field with a ruthless performance.
Isabel Rolley returned to the pitch for USC with an 60-minute performance off the bench, whilst Talia Grossman was an unused substitute. Sandra Hill also came off the bench for Grand Canyon, playing 24 minutes.
USC will now take on Penn State next weekend after the Nittany Lions handled Monmouth to the tune of a 3-1 victory. The winner of that contest will take on the winner of South Carolina v Hofstra, after South Carolina knocked off #2 seed North Carolina in a boilover, sneaking home with a 1-0 victory.
Hofstra (Grace Watson Carr) defeated Providence 3-0
Providence may be the Big East program, but Hofstra demonstrated that conference prestige means nothing if the team is good enough as the CAA champions dominated, outshooting the Friars 16-5 in a 3-0 victory. Two goals in the space of five minutes either side of the half-hour mark set the Pride on their way as Georgia Brown and Lucy Porter slotted home to put some separation between the two teams. Halftime came and went, but a second stoppage came just 11 minutes later as a storm featuring hail and lightning delayed proceedings for over an hour. However, Miri Taylor was clearly unimpacted by the delay, scoring just 13 seconds after the resumption following a mazy run that left several Friars defenders in her wake. That proved to be the final goal of the contest, with Hofstra advancing courtesy of a 3-0 victory.
Grace Watson Carr was an unused substitute for Hofstra, who will now take on South Carolina in the second round after the Gamecocks defeated #2 seed North Carolina 1-0 in their opener. Should Hofstra advance from the second round, a potential matchup with USC awaits, with the Trojans facing Penn State in the other second round match in this section of the draw.
Stanford (Amy Sayer) lost to Santa Clara 1-0
A local derby and undoubtedly the tightest matchup of the opening round, Amy Sayer and Stanford headed south to Santa Clara for a battle of the two most recent national champions. In a tight game that saw Stanford edge the shot count 8-7, it was Santa Clara’s only shot on target that proved decisive as a 59th minute goal from Makoto Nezu saw the Broncos advance. However, the game was not without drama as Stanford earned a 73rd minute penalty that was disputed by Santa Clara, to say the least. However, Maya Doms’ effort was saved by Kylie Foutch to maintain Santa Clara’s advantage, which they would hold until the full-time whistle as the Broncos advanced to face Georgetown in the second round.
Amy Sayer came off the bench for Stanford in the loss, playing the final 20 minutes of the opening half and a brief 10-minute cameo midway through the second half in her final game of the season.