NCAA College Cup TV schedule

Because I’m pretty sure this can’t be said enough times, have it again before the first game kicks off.

Friday, December 3

  • Notre Dame vs Ohio State at 4 p.m. ET
    Live on ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN3.com
  • Stanford vs Boston College at 6:30 p.m. ET
    (or 45 minutes after ND-OSU if the game requires overtimes)
    Live on ESPNU; tape-delayed on ESPN2 on 12/5 at 9 a.m. ET

Sunday, December 5

  • Stanford vs Boston College (tape delay)
    9 a.m. ET on ESPN2
  • Championship Final at 12 p.m. ET
    Live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com

Watch them. The NCAA soccer season is the most wonderful time of the year, and this weekend, 2010 comes to a close with some wicked good teams in the final games.

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Irish press conferences: always better than UNC’s

This year’s Notre Dame press conference with Randy Waldrum, Lauren Fowlkes, and Schuveiller leading up to the College Cup reminds me of the press conferences in 2008. In fact, I am going to swipe the links to throw at you because they make me so happy:

2010 – College Cup Games Notes | Notre Dame College Cup Central
Press Conference: Video | Photo Gallery | Quotes
Twitter: ND Athletics | ND Women’s Soccer | ND Women’s Soccer News | Head coach Randy Waldrum

It’s so great to hear Waldrum talk (about anything, but especially the sport), and for Schuveiller and Fowlkes to get some of the screentime that was heaped on the 2008 seniors. No offense, because I loved that crew, but we have seen much less of the women’s soccer team since then.

And just to enjoy some throwbacks, because I do miss ye olde alumni:

2008Press Conference with Randy Waldrum, Kerri Hanks, and Brittany Bock | Press Conference with Randy Waldrum, Brittany Bock, and Carrie Dew Well, just trust me, those were great interviews. Brittany Bock and Carrie Dew were particularly fun to watch together, and Kerri Hanks tried to be diplomatic with questions of what a handful she could be in practice.
Taping ESPN Promos | 2008 Season Highlights

Notre Dame women’s soccer is so undersold. By the way, since Waldrum did mention it and I haven’t yet: Texas Christian University will be joining the Big East in 2012. That is seriously far from the usual in the Big East – distance-wise. If only Kerri Hanks, “A Legend of Big East Soccer,” had commented on this directly.

I could write about Stanford or BC, but no…

Let's see those ass-kicking cowboy boots, Coach.

It’s been almost a month since I wrote anything about Notre Dame, although I have talked about the Irish in the tournament in our podcast. Previously, I was cranky about Notre Dame’s loss to UConn in the Big East tournament, but apparently that was good for the Irish. They got some time “off,” and they came back strong for the NCAA tournament.

This season was sort of reminiscent of 2007. It’s been a shaky couple of months, possibly tempered for me by Penn State’s stutter-stop 2010. Knaack was dropped from the roster, the freshmen settled in (right? At least a few of them did), and the senior class has returned to the Final Four. As a four-seed, they sliced through New Mexico, returned to proper Irish form against USC, thrashed top-seeded UNC in North Carolina, and survived again on the road against Oklahoma State. This has been a really, really good run for the Irish after a challenging season. Given the spanking they gave the Tar Heels, I would say that although this season isn’t over yet, it’s been a success.

On Friday, Notre Dame meets Ohio State in the 4 p.m. (ET) semifinal. ESPN2/ESPNU should be carrying the game, as well as ESPN3.com. That’s right, the webcast is for Notre Dame-Ohio State, not Stanford-Boston College (6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU). Four different conferences are represented, two schools are hitting a consecutive Final Four, and two are in their first semifinal. There are very few ways that a tournament in North Carolina without UNC can go wrong, and with the Irish in the mix, there are a lot of ways it can go right.

Episode 19 – Punishment Is Imminent

In our latest episode, recorded Wednesday, the NCAA D-1 women’s soccer tournament causes tears, exaustion and pain. The US Women’s National Team will play in Italy. FC Gold Pride is gone, but WPS soldiers on.

Action Items:

  • Give us a mystery to solve. Send your mysteries to crossconference@gmail.com.
  • Rate us on iTunes.

Music:

  • “Down By the Water (Skinny Friedman remix)” –  The Drums
  • “All That” – A1
  • “Girl, Here’s Another Lie” – Ultimate Fakebook
  • “Sandcastle Disco” – Solange

NCAA Tournament!

  • Seeds out
    • Maryland
      • Wake is, too – FYI, ACC (conf. tournament finalists)
    • Portland
      • Who’s fault?
        • Mine
        • Garrett’s
        • Everyone’s (for booting Sweeney)
  • Stanford
  • UC Irvine – All the way
  • UND @ UNC
    • Against USC, Notre Dame looked like a real Irish team for the first time this season
  • St. Mary’s senior goalkeeper on SMC’s season and last game against Portland

USWNT

  • Italy trip
    • They’ve never won in Italy
    • Hope Solo says your statistics mean nothing
  • DiMartino, Osborne, Tarpley
  • Everyone is gushing about the performance of the young players on the USMNT against South Africa. Like, you know, DEVELOPMENTAL PLAYERS.
    • Yeah, they were excellent. And 4 years away from the next world cup.
    • This is astonishing and innovative and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen such a thing on the women’s side!

WPS

  • Bye, bye, bye FC Gold Pride?
    • No investors
    • A survivable loss for the WPS. DC? not so much.
  • Chicago?
  • Western New York is a go. Keeping “Flash”
  • I have thinky thoughts about advertising/fan involvement
    • Sort of along the lines of the old WNBA t-shirt design contest, but more extensive than that – like a marketing angle, but the league would have to give the fans access to high-quality images.

Whatever works

So Portland lost in the second round. It was an anxiety-ridden affair. Washington did what they had to do to advance. It’s fine when I don’t think about it, but real misery when I do. The Pilots haven’t reached the Final Four since 2005. There were some amazing seniors on the team. Losing on PKs at home is bunk. It feels cruel, awful, and strangely so familiar.

Keelin Winters, Sophie Schmidt, Jessica Tsao

I’ve been watching a lot more boxing and MMA lately. I grew up watching boxing with my stepfather and practicing martial arts as a hobby. For combat sports, they are very different. This is something very obvious to anyone who’s followed either, but allow me to explain a little bit about the differences to those of you who might not be familiar.

Boxing might be considered the more pure of the two. There are basically two ways to win a fight: knockout or decision. (Yes, this is oversimplification. Indulge me.) Knockout is pretty self-explanitory: clean the other guy’s clock. He can’t stand up or defend himself? Fight over.

Decision is a little harder. You have to go the distance and you have to win enough rounds. To win a round, you have to punch clean, move around the ring well, be aggressive and still keep up your defense.

Plenty of title fights go the distance without a fighter attempting to really earn the belt away from the holder. Anyone who saw Manny Pacquiao’s fights against Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margartio knows what this looks like. You can’t luck your way into winning a fight by decision. You have to work, and if the guy you’re fighting has the belt you want, you have to take it from him. (The issue of taking a title is one we will have to revisit with the USWNT, but another time.)

Diaz vs Noons II

MMA fights can be won and lost like this. Nick Diaz is the current welterweight champion for Srikeforce. He recently defended his title against KJ Noons (who is WAY too pretty for a white boxer, but that’s neither here nor there). Diaz took what Noons could dish out. Noons managed to land punches, stay out of Diaz’ grasp and go the distance, but the question was: did he take the title from Diaz? It was obvious he did not.

While a mixed martial arts fight can be won in the same way as a boxing match, but it also introduced a new element: submission. Getting a fighter to submit involves putting them in a position (usually through grappling) where they cannot see an out; staying in the position would be costly. This is entirely unique to fighting: it means that one fighter can dominate for potentially a majority of rounds, but if they are caught in a split second, in any round, by a skilled grappler… game over. The fight can be lost in a single moment.

On the same night as the Diaz/Noons fight, one of my favorite upcoming MMA fighers, Sarah Kaufman, recently lost her title in a fight where she had to submit. She’s an amazing striker, and is usually crafty (or lucky) enough to work her way out of whatever trouble her opponents can get her in. However, in her last fight, against Marloes Coenen, she ignored the instruction of her trainers and found herself in an armbar. Moments before, she had Coenen on the ground, receiving her fists at a furious pace. Kaufman seemed primed for yet another knockout, but within a few seconds, she had to submit.

Kaufman in the armbar

As a fan of Kaufman, it momentarily felt unfair. As a fan of MMA, that it took so few seconds between Coenen receiving hard punches to the face and dishing out swift punishment of her own was stunning.

Soccer feels like it should be pure, that outcomes should be clear, but it is far more like MMA than perhaps any other sport. The game is not necessarily won by the best team, just as an MMA bout may not be won by the best fighter.  Soccer is described as the beautiful game, not necessarily the fair one. Great teams can be consistently dominant over a season. Smart teams do whatever works for them on the day. Washington did it. Teams will do it against North Carolina year after year.

A game can be stolen away so easily in the sport of soccer. It is incredibly hard to accept as a fan, but without defeat feeling this cruel, I wonder if victory can ever feel sublime.

NCAA Tournament Webcasts

The tournament is upon us! Technically, it started yesterday at UCLA, but the bulk of first round action happens today. First up will be Penn State vs Penn in West Virginia at 3:30 ET. You know I am invested in that one. Although, my biggest concern today is that Notre Dame learned from the past month and put a hurting on New Mexico instead of the Irish fans.

Here is the bracket, and here are the webcasts, all in one tidy (free!) bundle. The Portland Pilots have their games here. You know you want to watch the Purple.

Interview: Kelsey Davis

I don’t think it’s a big secret that Ruth and I really like Kelsey Davis.  We’ve mentioned it before on the blog and possibly in every episode of our podcast.  When the opportunity to talk to Kelsey came up, we jumped on it, and I worked through the night to make the episode available for you today

Kelsey Davis (Photo by ohhh_yeah80)

Kelsey had a lot to say about the 2006 US team that competed in the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Russia, which is a particular topic of interest to Ruth and I, and what she said about that team and the coach surprised me.

In a Bleacher Report interview, Kelsey discusses some of her charitable work with the Ronald McDonald House, and we talked with her about that as well. Since the end of the season, she’s worked with teammate Natalie Spilger’s GreenLaces.

Kelsey was a Theology major at Portland, and she explained her interest in the topic quite passionately and eloquently.  Speaking personally, I think I could have asked her to keep talking about religious writers for a good hour.

It’s rare to have an engaging conversation about so many interesting topics with someone you admire. Talking with Kelsey was a real honor and a pleasure and I hope we get to do it again.

Kelsey on Twitter.

Writers mentioned in the interview:
Thomas Merton
Wendell Berry
Brennan Manning
Anne Lamott
Henri Nouwen
Jay Bakker
C.S. Lewis
St. Augustine
Julian of Norwich
(my small plug for David Dark)