(Featured Image Credit: Michael Rincon)
The week kicked off with a belter of a goal from Sandra Hill that provided one of the highlights of the week even if Grand Canyon couldn’t secure a victory. The Lopes conceded two early goals to Utah Valley in their WAC quarter-final, but when the ball fell to Hill just outside the area following a corner late in the first half, the sophomore had only one thing in mind and rocketed it into the top corner to halve Utah Valley’s lead. Unfortunately, that was the last goal of the game, with Grand Canyon managing just one shot in the second half as their season came to an end with a 2-1 loss.
Stanford needed a win in either of their two games this week to secure a share of the Pac-12 Championship, and as expected clinched one at the first opportunity with a 2-0 victory over arch-rivals Cal on the road at Berkeley. Beattie Goad started once again and played the full 90 minutes, tallying two shots with one on target and one cannoning back off the post as Stanford secured the win courtesy of a pair of Jordan DiBiasi goals, leaving the Cardinal to await the result of the game between USC and UCLA, with any dropped points from USC resulting in Stanford clinching the championship outright even before they played Arizona State. Stanford would go on to beat the Sun Devils regardless, with Goad coming off the bench to play 53 minutes as the Cardinal completed an undefeated regular season with a dominant 4-1 victory.
Teagan Micah remains perfect in her three games against local rivals USC after a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory for UCLA this week, and the Bruins certainly have their goalkeeper to thank for that. Micah came up with eight saves, including three highlight reel efforts, one of which came with just two seconds to play with the game tied at 2-2. In a game that saw the teams trade goals within six seconds of each other as Hailie Mace’s screamer cancelled out USC’s second goal, it was UCLA who secured the victory as Olivia Athens narrowly beat an onrushing goalkeeper to head home into an open net and extend the Bruins’ winning streak over their arch-rivals to three games, as well as see UCLA jump the Trojans to finish in second spot in the Pac-12 behind Stanford.
Monique Iannella has been ever-present in the Hofstra back four this season, and the Pride’s defensive line came up in a massive way as the Pride secured the CAA title and an NCAA Tournament berth with a 2-0 win over James Madison. Hofstra conceded just two shots on target all game, with Iannella coming up with a goal-saving block from close range in a contest that saw the Pride take an early lead through Lucy Porter before doubling the margin in the 57th minute courtesy of Sabrina Bryan.
Caitlin Cantrill and LSU faced South Carolina in the SEC semi-finals, having already won their way through from the first round last weekend. The Tigers had already upset the Gamecocks once this season in a 2-1 win at home, but South Carolina on paper stil looked to be the favourites. However, LSU would secure the 1-0 victory courtesy of a 66th minute South Carolina own goal that sent the Tigers through to the championship game against Arkansas. LSU went down 1-0 just 13 minutes in, but Shannon Cooke’s long-range screamer in the 72nd minute tied the game at 1-1. Overtime couldn’t split the teams, but cooler heads prevailed in the shootout as a far more confident LSU team converted all four of their penalties for a 4-1 shootout victory that secured the team’s first conference championship. Unfortunately, Cantrill did not feature for the Tigers in either game.
Claire Urquhart and Albany had just one game to get through this week, but it was a big one – the America East Championship against UMass-Lowell. It was hardly a contest befitting a championship game, but Albany won’t mind as they dominated for the entire 90 minutes to roll to a 5-1 victory and book their spot in the NCAA Tournament, with Urquhart featuring in garbage time in the final couple of minutes.
A Texas Tech side featuring Demi Koulizakis couldn’t quite grab the upset win over Baylor in the Big 12 semi-finals, but their season looks set to continue into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid. The Red Raiders gave up an equaliser just before halftime, but responded with an equaliser ten minutes after the break. An even game that saw each team finish with 18 shots rightly went to overtime, but Baylor found the golden goal in just the third extra minute. Demi Koulizakis played just two minutes in the loss, but the junior will likely have at least one more chance this season as Texas Tech will certainly hear their name called as an NCAA Tournament team on Selection Monday.
Illinois aren’t quite as comfortable as Texas Tech, but some big early season results against Duke and Oklahoma State may have padded the Illini’s resume just enough to see them sneak into the NCAA Tournament. A Big Ten semi-final loss to Penn State on the back of a 67th minute own goal ended the team’s charge for a conference championship as Ashleigh Lefevre played just a minute off the bench, and whilst they can’t get too comfortable yet, those in the know are predicting that Illinois will find their name in the NCAA Tournament bracket come Monday afternoon.
Colorado have been flying for most of the season, but after a tough back end to the season that saw the Buffaloes face Stanford, UCLA, and USC before this week’s game against Utah, the team from Boulder have slipped onto the bubble and they’ll have a sleepless Sunday night before the selection show on Monday afternoon US time. A win against Utah might have been enough to make them safe, but the Buffaloes fell to a 1-0 loss in a game in which Isobel Dalton did not feature. Now, with a solid 13-4-3 record offset by a less-than-stellar strength of schedule and just one RPI Top 50 win, Colorado will be keeping their fingers crossed and collecting every four-leaf clover and rabbit’s foot they can find in the hope that the selection committee looks favourably upon them.
The dream All-Aussie championship game in the Northeast Conference unfortunately did not come to pass this week, with All-Conference selection Sam Roff playing the full 90 minutes but Fairleigh Dickinson falling to a 2-1 defeat in their semi-final against a Central Connecticut State side that has dominated for the majority of the conference season. However, Shelby Milton and Saint Francis did make it through to the final, with the junior playing 27 minutes in the Red Flash’s 4-0 demolition of Mount St. Mary’s in the other semi-final. Unfortunately, though, Central Connecticut State could not be stopped in the championship game. Saint Francis equalised in the 78th minute having given up the opener 11 minutes earlier, but an 89th minute winner was enough to see Central Connecticut State secure the conference title and an NCAA Tournament berth in a game in which Shelby Milton unfortunately did not feature.
Wyoming came into their Mountain West Conference semi-final evenly matched with New Mexico after the pair finished as two of the league’s three co-champions. As it turned out, the match ended up going to overtime as the Cowgirls secured a 78th minute equaliser to cancel out New Mexico’s 33rd minute opener. Unfortunately, it would be New Mexico who grabbed the golden goal winner in the 102nd minute, bringing Wyoming’s season to an end, and with it, the conclusion of Jessie Gentle and Annika Clayton’s brilliant college careers. All four Aussies started for the Cowgirls, with Indianna Asimus managing two shots on target but not finding the back of the net, whilst Clayton and Gentle were solid in their final collegiate appearances and Caitlin Pickett saw 42 minutes of action as a starter. However, it wasn’t all bad news as Clayton rounded out her career with an All-Mountain West Conference second team selection.
We also bade Isabel Hodgson farewell after four outstanding years as East Tennessee State fell to a heavy 5-1 defeat to UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference semi-finals. Although East Tennessee State had defeated their opponents in the regular season, UNC Greensboro were certainly the favourites to win this, and they came out strongly to grab a goal inside the first 20 minutes on their way to a 2-0 halftime lead. That lead would be doubled in the second half before East Tennessee State picked up a consolation in the 67th minute, before UNCG added one more from the spot with 12 minutes to play. Hodgson played 78 minutes in her final collegiate appearance, tallying one shot that was on target in rounding out a career that sees the South Australian finish as the team’s career appearances record holder and one of just two ETSU players to collect multiple All-Southern Conference Tournament selections after adding to her 2016 nod with another for her performances this year.
Two more players saw their seasons come to an end this week without having much impact on their team’s fortunes, but both will be back for another crack next season. Neither Gaby Bentley and Lauren Featherstone were called upon as their Old Dominion and North Dakota State sides unfortunately fell in conference tournaments, putting an end to their campaigns with both out of the running for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
Albany (Claire Urquhart)
This week: defeated Massachusetts-Lowell 5-1
Claire Urquhart came off the bench to play the final minute in Albany’s America East Championship game victory over Massachusetts-Lowell.
Colorado (Isobel Dalton)
This week: lost 1-0 to Utah
Isobel Dalton did not feature in Colorado’s loss to Utah.
East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)
This week: lost 5-1 to UNC Greensboro
Isabel Hodgson played 79 minutes and tallied a shot on target in her final college match as East Tennessee State fell 5-1 to UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference semi-finals.
Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)
This week: lost 2-1 to Central Connecticut State
Sam Roff played the full 90 minutes in Fairleigh Dickinson’s Northeast Conference semi-final loss to Central Connecticut State.
Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)
This week: lost 2-1 to Utah Valley
Sandra Hill scored Grand Canyon’s only goal in the loss to Utah Valley in the WAC tournament quarter-finals.
Hofstra (Monique Iannella, Grace Watson-Carr)
This week: defeated James Madison 2-0
Monique Iannella played the full 90 minutes in Hofstra’s CAA Championship win over James Madison, whilst reserve goalkeeper Grace Watson-Carr did not feature.
Illinois (Ashleigh Lefevre)
This week: lost 1-0 to Penn State
Ashleigh Lefevre came off the bench to play a single minute in Illinois’ Big Ten semi-final loss to Penn State.
LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)
This week: defeated South Carolina 1-0; defeated Arkansas 4-1 on penalties (1-1 after extra time)
Caitlin Cantrill did not feature for LSU in either game this week as the Tigers secured the SEC Championship.
North Dakota State (Lauren Featherstone)
This week: lost 3-0 to Denver
Lauren Featherstone did not feature in North Dakota State’s Summit League quarter-final loss to Denver.
Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)
This week: lost 3-2 to Louisiana Tech (OT)
Gaby Bentley did not feature for Old Dominion in their overtime loss to Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA quarter-finals.
St. Francis University (Shelby Milton)
This week: defeated Mount St. Mary’s 4-0; lost 2-1 to Central Connecticut State
Shelby Milton came off the bench to play 27 minutes in St. Francis’ Northeast Conference semi-final win over Mount St. Mary’s, but did not feature in the championship game against Central Connecticut State.
Stanford (Beattie Goad)
This week: defeated California 2-0; defeated Arizona State 4-1
Beattie Goad played the full 90 minutes in Stanford’s win over California, tallying two shots with one on target before playing 53 minutes off the bench against Arizona State.
Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)
This week: lost 2-1 to Baylor (OT)
Demi Koulizakis came off the bench for Texas Tech in their Big 12 semi-final loss to Baylor, playing just two minutes.
UCLA (Teagan Micah)
This week: defeated USC 3-2 (OT)
Teagan Micah played all 105 minutes of UCLA’s overtime victory over USC, making 8 saves.
Wyoming (Indianna Asimus, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Caitlin Pickett)
This week: lost 2-1 to New Mexico (OT)
All four Australians started in Wyoming’s loss to New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference semi-finals. Annika Clayton was a star in midfield, playing 86 minutes and registering a single shot in the process. Jessie Gentle was ever-present at fullback, whilst Caitlin Pickett played 42 minutes. Indianna Asimus had her chances, finishing with four shots including two on target in a 78-minute performance.
Player of the Year Points:
3: Teagan Micah (UCLA)
2: Sandra Hill (Grand Canyon)
1: Isabel Hodgson (East Tennessee State)