2017 Week 12 Wrap

Six conference championship games involving Australians made for an exciting Sunday as teams looked to punch their tickets to the NCAA Tournament. Elsewhere, Paige Hayward finally secured the career scoring record for Texas Southern.

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Paige Hayward had a successful weekend on a personal level, but unfortunately that didn’t transpire into team success as Texas Southern fell in the SWAC Tournament semi-finals. Playing in the final conference tournament of her career, Hayward slotted home the winner in the Tigers’ win over home side Prairie View A&M in the quarterfinals, and in the process broke the Texas Southern career record for goals scored as the senior took her career total to 25. Hayward’s record is made all the more impressive by the fact that the Sydneysider played the first season of her college career at Texas-Brownsville before transferring to Texas Southern.

Sunday saw Aussies involved in six conference championship games, all attempting to join Beattie Goad and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament after the Cardinal secured their spot last week. Hofstra, Western Carolina, Murray State, Grambling State, La Salle, Fairleigh Dickinson, and St. Francis all saw their seasons hinge on their result in a conference championship game.

Three early games kicked off simultaneously, with all requiring extra time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Priya Gakhar and Grambling State, who fell to Alabama State – featuring Australian assistant coach Shelbi Vienna-Hallam – in a penalty shootout after the game finished 0-0, with Gakhar playing a short cameo off the bench but not being involved in the shootout.

La Salle, whose Australian goalkeeper Claudia Jenkins was forced to watch from the sidelines as senior starter Larisa Zambelli played yet another blinder, looked certain to go to penalties as well as their championship game against VCU headed deep into extra time with the score at 0-0. However, a late Maci Bower goal ensured that the Explorers would secure victory, and in the process punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Whilst Shelby Milton did not take to the field for St. Francis, Sam Roff played the full 110 minutes for Fairleigh Dickinson as the Northeast Conference foes played off in the championship game. Roff, an All-Conference First Team selection, and her fellow defenders were solid all game as neither team was able to manage a goal, forcing the game into a penalty shootout. In the end, St. Francis were the better side from the spot, clinching the conference championship and their spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Whilst these games were heading to their conclusion, the Australian duo of Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella at Hofstra were just kicking off against Northeastern. Hofstra started amazingly, with a goal inside 90 seconds to take an early 1-0 lead against the dangerous Northeastern side. The Huskies would equalise shortly after, but Monique Iannella had no designs on allowing Hofstra’s opponents to keep pace for long. Whipping in a delightful free kick, Iannella found the head of Jenn Buoncore to give the Pride a 2-1 lead shortly before halftime. The game ebbed and flowed throughout, but in the end Hofstra would not be denied, maintaining their perfect conference record in 2017.

Kate Swartwout played a short cameo for Western Carolina in their championship game against UNC Greensboro, but unfortunately the Catamounts couldn’t repeat the dose after upsetting Furman in the Southern Conference semi-finals. Despite outshooting UNC Greensboro 20-7, Western Carolina fell 1-0 to a goal just after halftime.

The news was better for Murray State stars Harriet Withers and Nyomi Devine, who secured a second NCAA Tournament trip in three years with a win over Australian assistant coach Rachael Doyle and Eastern Kentucky. Despite a barrage of shots, including five on target from Withers, the Racers were unable to break the deadlock until the 94th minute, when Devine teed up Miyah Watford for the golden goal in the first period of overtime.

Those results leave us with five teams featuring Aussies on the roster securing automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament: Stanford (Beattie Goad), Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella), St. Francis (Shelby Milton), Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers), and La Salle (Claudia Jenkins). Teagan Micah and UCLA have secured an at-large bid, even if the news is not yet official, whilst Isobel Dalton and Colorado will have to sweat on the decision-making of the selection committee.

Player Of The Year Points:

3: Paige Hayward (Texas Southern)
2: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
1: Nyomi Devine (Murray State)

Complete Results:

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: lost 2-1 to Saint Francis

Lauren Featherstone did not feature in Central Connecticut State’s season-ending loss to Saint Francis.

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: defeated Utah 2-0

Isobel Dalton came off the bench, playing a single minute in Colorado’s win over Utah which leaves the Buffaloes sweating on an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: lost 2-0 to Northeastern

Emma Heckenberg started for Drexel in their conference tournament semi-final loss to Northeastern, playing 42 minutes.

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: defeated Bryant 2-1, lost 3-2 on penalties to St. Francis (0-0 AET)

Sam Roff started both games and played all 200 minutes of game time as Fairleigh Dickinson fell desperately short of securing a conference championship after losing on penalties to St. Francis.

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: defeated Jackson State 1-0; defeated Grambling State 3-1; lost 4-2 on penalties to Alabama State (0-0 AET)

Priya Gakhar came off the bench for short cameos in all three games this week as Grambling State fell short of a conference championship by the slimmest of margins, going down in penalties in the SWAC Tournament final.

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: defeated UTRGV 2-1; lost 1-0 to Utah Valley

Sandra Hill did not feature in Grand Canyon’s WAC quarter-final win over UTRGV, but came off the bench to play 8 minutes in the semi-final loss to Utah Valley.

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: defeated William & Mary 1-0; defeated Northeastern 2-1

Both Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella played the full 90 minutes in both games as Hofstra won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and secured an NCAA Tournament berth. Iannella had an assist in each game, whilst Hulbert registered a single shot in the win over William & Mary.

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: defeated Duquesne 2-1 (OT); defeated VCU (OT)

Claudia Jenkins did not feature for La Salle in either game this week. Starter Larisa Zambelli won the Player of the Tournament award as the Explorers rounded out a successful conference schedule by winning the conference tournament and punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: defeated Southeast Missouri State 1-0; defeated Eastern Kentucky 1-0 (OT)

Nyomi Devine and Harriet Withers each started both games this week as Murray State secured their second conference title in three years and secured an NCAA Tournament berth in the process. Devine played all 183 minutes of game time, whilst Withers played 84 minutes in the win over Southeast Missouri State and 86 minutes in the championship game victory over Eastern Kentucky, tallying five shots on target in the latter contest.

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: defeated Oregon 1-0

Olivia Ellis did not feature in Oregon State’s final day rivalry win over Oregon.

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: lost 1-0 to Saint Mary’s

Ellie Papalexiou did not feature in Pacific’s loss to Saint Mary’s.

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: defeated Central Connecticut State 2-1; defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 3-2 on penalties (0-0 AET)

Shelby Milton did not feature for St. Francis in either game this weekend as the Red Flash secured an NCAA Tournament berth after edging Fairleigh Dickinson on penalties in the Northeast Conference tournament final.

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: lost 1-0 to Murray State

Maddy Cornell started for Southeast Missouri State in their Ohio Valley Conference semi-final loss to Murray State, playing 55 minutes.

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: defeated California 1-0

Beattie Goad did not feature for Stanford in their 1-0 win over California.

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: defeated Prairie View A&M 1-0; lost 6-5 on penalties to Alabama State (1-1 AET)

Paige Hayward started both games in her final SWAC conference tournament, setting the Texas Southern career goalscoring record with the game’s only goal in the quarter-final win over hosts Prairie View A&M.

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: defeated USC 3-2 (OT)

Teagan Micah came off the bench to play the second half and overtime as senior Siri Ervik was afforded the start in UCLA’s final regular season game. Micah was not forced into any saves and kept a 46 minute clean sheet as UCLA secured the win in front of a regular season record 11,925 fans.

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: defeated Furman 2-0; lost 1-0 to UNC Greensboro

Kate Swartwout did not feature in the Catamounts’ boilover semifinal win over Furman, but came off the bench to play a short cameo in the championship game loss to UNC Greensboro.

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: lost 1-0 to Hofstra

Lorena Bugden did not feature in William & Mary’s season-ending semi-final loss to Hofstra.

2017 Week 8 Preview

UCLA and Stanford head in completely opposite directions geographically as the Pac-12 pair continue to keep pace with each other, whilst the Aussie duo at Hofstra look to remain atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings. The story is the same for the Australian pair at Murray State, who face an Aussie assistant coach against Eastern Kentucky in a clash of the titans in the Ohio Valley Conference.

We kick off Week 8 a day earlier than usual, with Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State taking on The Citadel on Thursday morning Australian time. The Buccaneers are on a three-game skid and have lost seven of their last eight games as their season threatens to derail, but should still be slightly favoured at home to The Citadel, who have a slightly better record than East Tennessee State, but against a far inferior schedule to this point. It’s been a lean season for the entire East Tennessee State attack, but The Citadel’s defence has been leaky at times this season, so Thursday would be an ideal time for a few confidence-boosting goals. The Buccaneers face Mercer in their second game of the week, an opponent that will pose far more of a challenge. The Bears have the second-best record of any team in the Southern Conference, but East Tennessee State won the last meeting between the teams, notching a 3-1 victory in last year’s conference tournament.

Hofstra sit atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings with four straight wins to start league play, and this week the Pride and their Aussie duo of Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella face a pair of mid-table teams looking to climb the standings. Towson have won just one of their first three games in conference play, and will need to start winning soon if they are to secure a decent seeding in the conference tournament. However, Hofstra have been dominant so far this season, and with Northeastern right on their tail, will be in no mood to allow Towson even the slightest look. The Pride then face James Madison in their second game of the week. The Dukes have split their first four games in league play to sit at 2-2-0 and 7-6-0 overall. Their attack has produced 25 goals this year in comparison to Hofstra’s 20, but they have also conceded 18 goals in their 13 games. In contrast, the Pride defence, featuring Monique Iannella and shielded by Emily Hulbert in midfield, have conceded just 11 goals in 13 games, with three of those coming in a loss to a powerhouse Penn State team. If the Hofstra defence comes to play this week, one goal in each game may just be enough to secure two victories.

If Hofstra do drop points, Emma Heckenberg and Drexel are right there ready to bridge the gap. The Dragons are 5 points behind Hofstra at the moment in third place in the CAA, but one of those losses is to the Pride. Drexel face Delaware and UNC Wilmington, neither of which will be easy opponents, but both are eminently winnable games for the side from Philadelphia. With Emma Heckenberg shifting between midfield and defence in recent weeks, the Victorian junior has seen her minutes increase as the weeks have continued, and she has now firmly re-established herself as an integral member of the Dragons’ starting eleven. With Drexel giving up just 14 goals in 13 games this season, Heckenberg may be flying under the radar slightly considering the exploits of some other Australians, but her performances have been solid throughout the season to this point and she will no doubt be heavily involved in any Drexel success this weekend.

Pac-12 action continues this week with UCLA and Stanford still sitting in the top two spots in the coaches’ poll. This week sees Teagan Micah and the Bruins head to Arizona to play both Arizona and Arizona State. Neither team has been especially dominant in attack this season, scoring just 11 and 14 goals respectively this season. However, Teagan Micah will still need to be at her best, with her performances to date turning more than a couple of draws into wins for UCLA in 2017. Stanford, on the other hand, head for higher altitude, taking on Colorado and Utah in a true test of fitness for the Cardinal. Beattie Goad has been in and out of the starting lineup this season, but coming up against two teams which spend their entire lives at this altitude means that coach Paul Ratcliffe will almost certainly need to utilise his bench more than usual. Therefore, regardless of whether Goad starts or comes off the bench, there will almost surely be solid minutes in store for the sophomore as the Cardinal look to keep pace with UCLA. In the Pacific Northwest, it will also be intriguing to see if Olivia Ellis continues to see extended minutes for Oregon State as the Beavers take on Washington and Washington State after averaging nearly an hour per game last week.

Harriet Withers may be chalking up record after record for Murray State at the moment, but that all gets pushed aside briefly this week in a top-of-the-table clash with Eastern Kentucky. Former Washington State defender and once-capped Matilda Rachael Doyle will be on the sidelines as assistant coach for Eastern Kentucky, turning this already intense battle into an Aussie v Aussie matchup of sorts. Like Murray State, Eastern Kentucky have a potent offence, but their defence has been leaky at times. This will need to change quickly if they are to stop Withers and the Murray State attack, whilst at the other end, Nyomi Devine and the Racers’ defence have given up just nine goals in eleven games to this point. Whilst this is a battle of the top teams in the conference at this point, it’s safe to say that Murray State should be considered strong favourites in this one.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: v Hartford – 10am, Friday October 6; v Massachusetts-Lowell – 7am, Monday October 9

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: at Sacred Heart – 3am, Monday October 9

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: v California – 8:30am, Friday October 6; v Stanford – 5am, Monday October 9

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: at Delaware – 10am, Friday October 6; at UNC Wilmington – 4am, Monday October 9

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Citadel – 10am, Thursday October 5; v Mercer – 5am, Monday October 9

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: v Wagner – 10am, Saturday October 7; at LIU Brooklyn – 4am, Monday October 9

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: at Texas Southern – 11am, Saturday October 7; at Prairie View A&M – 5am, Monday October 9

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: at UTRGV – 12pm, Saturday October 7; at New Mexico State – 6am, Monday October 9

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: v UC Irvine – 2pm, Monday October 9

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: at Towson – 6am, Friday October 6; v James Madison – 4am, Monday October 9

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: v Davidson – 10am, Friday October 6; at Massachusetts – 4am, Monday October 9

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: v Georgia – 10am, Friday October 6; at Mississippi – 6am, Monday October 9

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: at Eastern Kentucky – 7am, Friday October 6

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: v McNeese State – 8am, Saturday October 7

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: v Florida International – 6am, Monday October 9

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: v Washington – 1pm, Friday October 6; v Washington State – 8am, Monday October 9

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: at San Diego – 1pm, Sunday October 8

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: v Robert Morris – 4am, Monday October 9

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: at Austin Peay – 11am, Saturday October 7; v Belmont – 6am, Monday October 9

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: at Utah – 10am, Friday October 6; at Colorado – 5am, Monday October 9

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: v Grambling State – 11am, Saturday October 7; v Arkansas-Pine Bluff – 5am, Monday October 9

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: at Baylor – 11am, Saturday October 7

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: at Arizona State – 1pm, Friday October 6; at Arizona – 6am, Monday October 9

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v Mercer – 10am, Saturday October 7; v Citadel – 5am, Monday October 9

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at Elon – 10am, Friday October 6; v Delaware – 5am, Monday October 9

Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)

This week: at Nevada – 10:30am, Saturday October 7; at UNLV – 7am, Monday October 9