Aha! Logic behind Notre Dame’s webcast schedule.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo

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I’ve been testy this season about internal coverage of NCAA women’s soccer. I’ve harped about Notre Dame’s coverage in particular, because while the coverage is still top notch, it isn’t quite at the level that it used to be. Indeed, Irish fans (and fans of teams that play the Irish) are spoiled. The free webcasts for home games have dropped off, which is probably what makes me the crankiest. It didn’t seem like there was any rhyme or reason to the home games that have been webcast–why show Texas Tech instead of Santa Clara? Why this Syracuse game tonight, but not Minnesota or Milwaukee in August?

Associate Athletic Media Relations Director Chris Masters has volunteered the answers, which I will boil down to basics: there have been cutbacks in multimedia staffing, which means that when a home game for women’s soccer overlaps a home football pep rally… you don’t even have to do the math. Pretty much everyone knows Hope Solo is crazy when she says the numbers don’t matter. The Texas Tech webcast was not “instead of” Santa Clara, and the Minnesota and Milwaukee games both occurred before school was back in session. This Friday’s game will have a webcast because football is away this weekend, but next weekend will be audio only because football is at home.

Notre Dame has four more women’s soccer home games in the regular season:

  • Tonight, against Syracuse (webcast, 7:30 pm Eastern)
  • Sunday, against St. John’s (televised on CBS College Sports, with audio online, 12 pm)
  • Friday, against Seton Hall (audio only because of football, 7:30 pm Eastern)
  • Sunday, October 10, Senior Day against Rutgers (televised on ESPNU, 1 pm Eastern)
  • …and you have to consider that Notre Dame will go deep enough in the Big East and NCAA tournaments to merit even more televised or webcast games.

Not that Notre Dame really needs to justify the webcast schedule. The Irish would have a very strong web presence even without video. Online audio coverage is available, and interactive live blogs provide a good alternative to GameTracker. There are three options for different kinds of coverage via Twitter (@NDSoccer and @NDsoccernews), including an account for Head Coach Randy Waldrum (@NDCoachWaldrum), who is very personable.

It’s rough not having as much video from South Bend this year, because this is one of the few college teams that I’ve been able to see regularly. So it’s nice to know that the people in charge out there are aware that the loss has been felt and are doing what they reasonably can to give the fans updates. Masters, in particular, has the insane job of being SID for both women’s soccer and women’s basketball, another one of those rare women’s sports programs that receives surprisingly good (and free!) coverage.

Gotta love the Irish. Gotta transition from persecuted WPS/pro-soccer mode to enthusiastic and happy NCAA mode. Gotta watch the game wherever you can get it.

How are the U-20s doing in the NCAA season?

Since we are about a month into college play and certain U-20 influenced teams are having surprising results (both good and bad), I feel as though it would be beneficial to check up on the NCAA-based youth nationals. This list might be incomplete, as it’s mostly based on the clubs submitted to FIFA for the rosters. If I know that the players are with NCAA teams that aren’t included on FIFA’s rosters, then I have listed them (a couple of Mexico’s, for instance), but otherwise, I have probably missed a few internationals. Because Canada did not qualify for the World Cup, I have not included those players.

Arizona is 2-3-1 so far with wins over Cal Poly and Tennessee. This is a rough start to the season, and Pac-10 play won’t be any easier.

  • Renae Cuellar (Mexico) has played all six games. She has taken 26 shots (14 on goal), put away six goals (one game-winner), and recorded three assists. Overall, the Wildcats have 11 goals this season. You do the math.

Auburn is ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2007, at 21/25, having started the season 5-2-0. One of the highlights so far was beating Florida State 3-2 in an overtime game.

  • Ashley Kotero (Mexico) has played two games and already recorded two shots and a goal.
  • Bianca Sierra (Mexico) played all seven games with two starts. She has taken three shots and notched one assist.

Boston College (5) holds a 5-0-1 record, having tied Stanford in the season opener. They have had a decent non-conference schedule, but it’s not as competitive as some other teams’.

  • Victoria DiMartino (USA) is having a standard season: 19 shots (nine on goal), seven goals (two game-winners), and one assist.
  • Kristie Mewis (USA) has 18 shots (nine on goal), three goals (one game-winner), and five assists.

California is 4-0-2 on the season and ranked 18/19 in the nation. We might get a chance to see how they fare without Alex Morgan this season, as she is still getting call-ups for the USWNT.

  • Betsy Hassett (New Zealand) started in four of the six games she has played this season. She has taken seven shots, two of which were on goal.

Creighton is 4-2-2 and (unsurprisingly, as this is a Missouri Valley Conference school) not ranked.

  • Gabriella Guillen (Costa Rica) started two of her six games so far. She has taken six shots, one on goal, and recorded one assist.

Duke is having a good season, starting 5-1-1 and ranked 14/15 depending on whom you ask. The loss came at the hands of Stanford, and the tie was a scoreless draw with FIU.

  • Mollie Pathman (USA), a freshman, has played all seven games. She is credited with 15 shots (10 on goal), two goals (one game-winner), and two assists.

Florida State isn’t necessarily struggling, but 5-2-0 with losses away (Auburn) and at home (Florida!) could be troubling. At the very least, that home loss to Florida must smart. The Seminoles are ranked 8th in the nation.

  • Ines Jaurena (France) has started and played in six games (DNP vs Stetson). She has taken three shots (two on goal), scored one goal and assisted on another. She has also converted a penalty kick. Too bad she couldn’t play for the US.
  • Toni Pressley (USA) has also converted a pair of PKs this season. She has taken six shots (five on goal!) and scored two goals (one a game-winner). She also has an assist.
  • Casey Short (USA) hasn’t taken PKs, but she does have 13 shots (six on goal). She’s tallied one goal in seven games played.

Georgia has advanced to 21 in the national polls and is 4-2-1, with losses to surging Duke and strong Stanford teams and a recent tie with Santa Clara.

  • Ashley Baker (England), a redshirt freshman, has started all seven games for the Bulldogs. She is credited with 41 saves, has seven goals-against, and notched an assist in the Georgia State game. Right on, keeper.

IPFW is 2-5-0 to start. This probably won’t be the Mastadons’ best season.

  • Erin Nayler (New Zealand) has started six of the seven games she has played as a freshman. She and junior GK Kristen McFadden split netminding duties in a 4-3 loss to unbeaten SIUE. Nayler has 14 goals against and 37 saves.

Lynn University is a DII school in Florida. The team has a 3-0 record.

  • Melissa Ortiz (Columbia) has played 200 of 273 possible minutes. She leads the team with 17 shots taken. She has one goal and one assist.

Mississippi State is off to a 6-1-0 start but will probably struggle when meeting with Oklahoma State this weekend. MSU’s schedule doesn’t seem to have been strong so far.

  • Monica Alvarado (Mexico) started and played six games this season. Eight shots (five on goal) and one assist. She missed the recent game against Jackson State.

North Carolina, ranked No. 1, etc, etc. 6-0-1 with a tie against Stanford. Second verse, same as the first… twenty or so, right? Anson Dorrance has 700ish wins and says his team probably shouldn’t be No. 1. Okay then!

  • Amber Brooks (USA) is a regular starter for the Tar Heels. She has taken ten shots (half on goal) and scored with three of those.
  • Crystal Dunn (USA) is also a regular starter and has played at least a hundred more minutes than Brooks. She has taken a shot and notched an assist.
  • Meg Morris (USA) is a starter and only has about 400 minutes on the field, but she has taken four shots (one on goal) and tallied an assist.

Pacific spent September playing a surprisingly tough schedule against ranked teams. They are 2-4-1, highlighting with a recent tie against Oregon.

  • Angelica Figueroa (Mexico) started six of her seven games for Pacific. She has taken six shots, two on goal, and scored once. She also has three assists and a yellow card.  Her game-tying goal (and her yellow) came in the Oregon game.

Penn State is struggling more than expected this season. A strong schedule has left them 1-5-1 after a month of play. They have lost five straight games and mercifully dropped out of the top-25. Things are only going to get worse with Lexi Marton injured.

  • Maya Hayes (USA) has started six of seven games in her freshman year. She has 13 shots (seven on goal), two goals, and one assist. Not bad, compared to…
  • Christine Nairn (USA), one of the U-20 captains. She has started all seven games for the Nittany Lions, taken 27 shots (put only 8 on frame), scored two goals, and assisted one. This is a very frustrating season already. Edit: given my later comment on Leroux, it’s important to note that Nairn had a PK blocked (by 2008 U-20 GK Chantel Jones) in the game against Virginia. She did convert in the game against Portland, but the final result was disappointing.

Portland is, as my co-writer says, flying under the radar at No. 3 in the nation with a decent schedule (comparable to UNC’s, probably) and 8-0-0 record.

  • Kendall Johnson (USA) started all four of the games she has played in and took two shots. [A/N: knee injury, but not season ending?]

Oklahoma State, 5-1-0, has been okay against okay teams. They ended August with a loss to Portland.

  • Adrianna Franch (USA) has been sharing the net with two other keepers but played all six games. She has 19 saves and three goals against.

San Diego has played a good schedule so far and kept a decent 4-2-1 record. Their recent loss to UC Irvine is surprising, but they beat USC in the preseason!

  • Natalie Garcia (Mexico) is a regular starter. She has taken four shots, all on goal, and has one assist.

Santa Clara has played a mixed-strength non-conference schedule to a 4-1-2 record. The Broncos’ ties with Cal and Georgia are probably a good indicator of what can be expected this season. Somehow, SCU still sits at 9th in the polls.

  • Bianca Henninger (USA) has played all 670 minutes in goal for the Broncos. She has made 26 saves and has five goals against.

Stanford is off to a 4-0-2 start and ranked No. 2 in DI under UNC, who they tied soon after tying Boston College (both road games). All of the Cardinal’s U-20 players have been regular starters in all six games.

  • Alina Garciamendez (Mexico), Courtney Verloo (USA), and Rachel Quon (USA) are all playing on a backline that has only allowed six goals so far. Verloo has two shots and one assist. Quon has one shot, one goal, and one assist.
  • Teresa Noyola (USA) is an attacking midfielder with 16 shots (nine on goal), three goals, and three assists.

Texas is doing alright (5-1-1) so far, but the Longhorns are not in the top 25.

  • Leah Fortune (Brazil) has taken 21 shots with 12 of those on goal. Of two goals, one was a game winner. She also has three assists. She is a redshirt freshman this year, having lost most of 2009 to an ankle injury.

UC Irvine is Joan’s randomly chosen second favorite team! Their 4-1-2 record is highlighted by wins over Gonzaga and San Diego and draws with Cal and Pepperdine.

  • Mar Rodriguez (Mexico) has four shots (three on goal) and one goal!

UCLA is not off to an impressive start, but at least they aren’t as bad as Penn State. 4-1-1 so far, the Bruins lost to Northwestern, tied UC Santa Barbara, and needed overtime to beat Notre Dame. UCLA is ranked 10th.

  • Zakiya Bywaters (USA) has taken 19 shots (9 on goal), scored twice (one game-winner), and assisted once.
  • Sydney Leroux (USA) has taken 28 shots, half of them on frame. She has five goals, one assist, and (no joke) didn’t manage to convert her PK attempt. Maybe her four-goal game against Cal Poly makes up for that.
  • Jenna Richmond (USA) beats Leroux’s four goals with two against Notre Dame. 16 shots (11 on goal), 4 goals (2 game-winners), and an assist. As a freshman.

Webster University is DIII. They are 1-3-0 so far.

  • Maria Arias (Costa Rica) is one of two players on the roster not from Missouri or Illinois. I don’t think she’s played yet this season.

WCC welcomes BYU!

Now that I’m “back” from my vacation (WPS games of Boston-Philly and FC Gold Pride-Sky Blue FC and webcasts of the Women’s Rugby World Cup) it’s time to belatedly mention the West Coast Conference expansion!

The new West Coast Conference map, courtesy of WCCSports.com.

Brigham Young University will be leaving the Mountain West Conference to join our beloved West Coast Conference in 2011. According to the press release, “This is the first time the West Coast Conference has formally invited an institution as a full member since Gonzaga University and the University of San Diego began competing in the WCC in 1979.” There is a lot of emphasis in all of the quotes about BYU being a “private, faith-based institution with a strong academic reputation and tradition of excellence in athletics,” which is one of the cool things about the WCC. The press conference from BYU emphasizes that this move will give them more media exposure and make them more accessible.

The big drawback with BYU is that they have a football program–but that will not be affiliated with the WCC and will go independent. Other sports that won’t compete in the WCC include track and field, softball, and swimming.

So what does this mean for women’s soccer? I think it will make the conference schedule more competitive. BYU recently beat Northwestern (2-1) and Washington State (3-1). Both are ranked opponents from strong conferences. Northwestern, notably, beat UCLA 1-0 this season. BYU is off to a strong start already, ranked 12th in the nation, and they have a decent schedule overall in 2010. Coming up, they will play LSU, Marquette, Texas, New Mexico, Santa Clara, and Utah. Last season, they beat ranked UConn, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Oregon and advanced to the second round of the NCAAs (dropping to Stanford).

And because this is CCC, I have to plug the social media:

Cal Bears 2009, in which Alex Morgan resembles Hope Solo (only better)

Although I was initially going to make this post along with (or instead of) the one about Hope Solo’s latest comments, I’m glad I held off. The discussion in the comments of that post has been good, and the delay gave colleges time to throw all sorts of preseason news at us–including this gem from DailyCal.org:

McGuire Looks to Build Unity After Late-Season Struggle

[U]nity was an obstacle last fall. [Head Coach Neil] McGuire quit briefly for personal reasons following a loss to Sacramento State, and the remainder of the season seemed to reflect internal conflict. […]

Although he attributes the downturn in Cal’s performance last season largely to injuries and is monitoring the players’ health, there could be other reasons to the Bears’ late loss of momentum.

The team’s record prior to McGuire’s short departure was 6-3. Following his absence, it was 5-6-1.

While he is aware of some of last season’s problems, McGuire also believes that the Bears’ have a fresh start this year.

“This is the 2010 team.” he said. “It’s not the 2009 team. It’s a different team, it’s a different attitude, it’s a different vision.”

I think that the average women’s soccer fan, if they pay attention to California Berkeley at all, do so because of Alex Morgan. I used to pay attention because the Bears have given my teams some grief over the years (and they gave up Chioma Igwe to SCU), but in recent seasons, I’ve paid attention because Cal is a friend’s alma mater. Knowing someone that is on-campus and cares about the team certainly does affect how I perceive the team. So with that in mind, I realize that not everyone was as caught up in the Bears’ 2009 season as I was. Not everyone is going to be insulted by The Daily Californian‘s new stance on the team and McGuire.

My unease with McGuire started early last last season, with the 4-1 win over Nevada. Alex Morgan had a hat trick and Lisa Kevorkian tallied a goal as well. In the writeup, only the coach is quoted:

“Lisa’s reading the line very, very well for us,” McGuire said. “She’s kind of a goal-a-game player. Sometimes it can be a first-class goal, and sometimes it can be off scrap.” […]

“Morgan has to credit the service she received,” McGuire said. “The first goal she worked for because she won the ball and scored. The rest of the goals she scored came from tremendous work from her teammates. That’s what our offense is all about – whether it be Alex scoring the goal and receiving from her teammates or her passing to her teammates.”

My discomfort came particularly from McGuire’s phrasing in talking about Morgan’s goal. “Has to credit,” and so on, as though Alex Morgan, whose modesty isn’t affected or simply fed to the media, wouldn’t have credited them herself? Morgan is Cal’s goalscorer (and what a shame that they have lost Kevorkian to grad school) but Megan Jesolva is the key component behind the forwards. I’m sure the team knows this. When she is injured, the midfield–and subsequently the team–struggles.

And Jesolva did get injured last season. Her first game out, Cal (ranked 7th at the time), lost 1-0 to Cal Poly. Even McGuire acknowledged where the problem was, if not how the team ended up that way: “One of the problems we have been having is that our midfielders are trying to do too many peoples’ jobs. That drill is meant to confine our midfielders to a given space and give them a real sense of what their responsibilities are.”

The Bears followed up with a 1-0 loss to Sacramento State. Immediately following the game, McGuire quit the coaching position: “Reportedly, McGuire was so upset after the game that he told his squad in the locker room that he was done, leaving the Bears without a head coach for Sunday’s matchup against No. 11 Santa Clara which resulted in a 1-1 draw.” This from student journalist Joseph Cannon, who had an established relationship with the team and would continue to cover the situation as it unfolded. The news broke, however, through star player Alex Morgan’s twitter account:

October 3

  • @alexmorgan13: you turned your back on us once we can and will turn our backs on you for good. you are not welcome back
  • @alexmorgan13: practice time… will there be an unpleasant surprise? i hope not
  • @alexmorgan13: happy about how practice went…so READY for tomorrow’s game!!!

October 4

  • @alexmorgan13: game [today] vs. santa clara… i have a good feeling about this one
  • Santaclarabroncos.com noted in its original release regarding the game that Neil McGuire was not with the visiting Bears.
  • Callbears.com: Volunteer assistant coach Kelly Lindsey managed the team today as head coach Neil McGuire was attending to personal matters.
  • @alexmorgan13: bears tied the broncos 1-1… we wanted it more…we fought until the end. 110 minutes later. good job bears i love you girls

October 5

“I wasn’t happy or sad. I was indifferent. My team is the only thing that matters to me. And if (McGuire) ever comes back, then we will deal with it then.” McGuire has shown his emotions after losses before, like last year when he kicked the team out of the locker room after a brutal collapse against Cal State Fullerton. But he has never done this before.

“It’s really important for us to sit tight and let Neil and the administration work through this,” Lindsey said. “We just have to try to keep the wheels on the bus until a final decision is made and we can all move forward.”

Cannon’s article came late enough that it was published on the same day as the “official channels” at Cal announced McGuire’s return:

Head Coach Neil McGuire Returns to Team. Neil McGuire, who missed Sunday’s game at Santa Clara to attend to personal business, has returned to the team and will continue as Cal’s women’s soccer coach. Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour reiterated her support for McGuire, who has guided the Golden Bears to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearance in his first two seasons at the helm.

The juxtaposition of Cannon’s articles to the official statements given by McGuire and Barbour (echoed by The Daily Californian here) could raise some eyebrows… or some ire, as demonstrated by Andrew Brining on Bleacher Report. He wasn’t the only one. Alumni weighed in, and Morgan continued to tweet.

October 6

  • @alexmorgan13: long long day. big headache, tired, frustrated. Thank you for all the support in the past few days.

October 9

Cal would salvage their season and make the postseason tournament despite McGuire, which I think bears a lot of quoting here.

“I think we took the team as far as we could have taken it, considering all the adversity we were up against,” junior Alex Morgan said.

It wasn’t much of a team at all, though. The Bears were divided, players versus coach.

“A coach is a coach, players are what make a team,” senior co-captain Brianna Bak said just days after McGuire temporarily left the team for personal reasons.

That statement became almost a mantra with the players, who would turn any question regarding “the situation” with their coach into a chance to talk about the bond they shared as sisters.

“It’s in the past now,” McGuire said less than a week after the incident, which was chronologically correct but realistically improbable, as he had yet to speak with each player individually.

There weren’t any examples of dissent from the players in games or during interviews, yet it began to surface in their record. After starting off with a promising 6-3 record, Cal finished the season going 5-6-1, tossing together a rough 4-5 trip through the Pac-10.

And while I think it’s telling that Kelly Lindsey (yes, that Kelly Lindsey, the one that turned Sky Blue FC’s season around last year) was named associate head coach in February 2010, Shek Borkowski probably says it better than I could.

McGuire is right. This year’s Bears are not the 2009 team. The individual players combined for a striking whole, but who’s to say whether 2010 could overcome the same kind of adversity? I have a lot of respect for the 2009 team and the seniors that graduated, and not just because of how they functioned as a team. Sandwiched between the coaching mess at Sky Blue FC and Hope Solo’s recent outburst on Twitter, the Cal debacle informs and reinforces my pro-player, pro-social media stance at any level of the sport.

I don’t have faith in the “appropriate channels.” I don’t think the Cal story could have unfolded like it did without new media components. I think that if Alex Morgan had taken her complaint to the “appropriate channels,” not only would nothing have been done (as we see in McGuire’s continued head coaching position), but nothing would have been said, either. The players, their relationship with the student journalist, and their willingness to take advantage of the open forum of the internet made the other side of the story public.

But as we’ve discussed in comments on my previous post, just because the information is out there, doesn’t mean people have or will see it. I know I wouldn’t have been able to read as much as I did if I wasn’t guided to the sources by someone on that campus who cared enough to find the news and share it. Since so much of women’s soccer has to be passed along this way, I don’t see why people are so quick to discredit it. A degree of judgment needs to go into how much of each story you accept, but how do you justify telling Alex Morgan, Joseph Cannon, and the 2009 team that their side doesn’t count, simply because it hasn’t been filtered by a system that doesn’t want to acknowledge them anyway?

Notre Dame vs. Santa Clara, another clash of the Catholics

The NCAA preseason is somehow even more exciting than a WPS preseason. There is more stability, consistency, and potential. NCAA soccer is like a beloved soap opera, with long-running story lines, “family” histories, and recurring characters and guest stars. In fact, I far prefer college soccer over any TV series or movie. The perpetual Gryffindor vs. Slytherin’s got nothing on this. Hope Solo vs. the Boston Breakers’ Riptide cannot distract me.

Our favorite rivalry here on Cross-Conference is Santa Clara-Portland. But a personal favorite match-up of mine isn’t a rivalry so much as that one annual non-conference game where I cannot lose. With Santa Clara vs. Portland, the outcome holds significant stakes. With Santa Clara vs. Notre Dame, there is this strange sense of two sides of the same coin. There are no advantages to winning (Notre Dame currently owns the series, though, 9-6-0). It means nothing in the grand scheme of things; the results don’t impact either team’s seasons. The teams have alternated winning in recent years–generally at home–making the outcome as shockingly predictable as Bronco injuries.

The teams’ first meeting was October 8, 1995. Notre Dame hosted and won 1-0. The Irish were ranked #2 at the time, and the Broncos were #8. Santa Clara finished at #7. Notre Dame finished the season at #4, but of course beat North Carolina then Portland 1-0 for the championship. Notre Dame 1, Santa Clara 0.

Santa Clara hosted October 13, 1996. Notre Dame appears to have been having a good season. They started ranked #2 in the nation, beat UNC in Durham three games prior, and were ranked #1 to SCU’s #9 the week of the game. Despite the Broncos’ 3-1 win, the Irish maintained the top spot through the end of the season, where they beat Portland in the semis and fell 1-0 in overtime to UNC. Santa Clara climbed to #3 and not only hosted the Final Four, but played in the semis as well. Notre Dame 1, Santa Clara 1.

There is a curious gap from ’97-’98, but Santa Clara hosted once again October 17, 1999. This was a year that Santa Clara was unbeaten and top ranked, with players such as Aly Wagner, Kylie Bivens, Kim Pickup, Danielle Slaton, Devvyn Hawkins, and Jacqui Little in the starting lineup. Notre Dame, ranked #6, had the likes of Jen Grubb, Monica Gonzales, Kelly Lindsey, and Anne Makinen. The final score was 4-2, with goals by Wagner (2), Hawkins, Clemens, Makinen, and Grubb. When the two teams met later that season in the semifinals, Notre Dame prevailed 1-0, then fell to UNC in the finals. Notre Dame 2, Santa Clara 2.

Then Santa Clara went through one of the usual skids. Although the Broncos were #2 at the time, they would end the season #3 in the WCC and #7 in the nation, dropping out of the post-season in the quarter finals (a 2-1 loss to the Irish, who then lost to UNC). Notre Dame hosted the regular season match-up September 8, 2000, and won 6-1. Interesting note about this game: Jerry Smith is quoted as saying that the Broncos had only 13 players healthy for this game. Gotta love the Broncos and their shallow bench. Notre Dame 4, Santa Clara 2.

Although a Notre Dame-SCU match-up was scheduled to be hosted at Santa Clara in 2001, the September 14 game was postponed in light of 9-11 and ultimately canceled. Notre Dame (#7) ended the season poorly with a loss at home to Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Santa Clara, on the other hand, enjoyed a successful season that culminated in defeating North Carolina 1-0 in the Championship and winding up the school of choice in Bend It Like Beckham.

We can assume, given that SCU was supposed to host in 2001, that the Broncos would have won that year. Notre Dame hosted September 6, 2002, and Santa Clara pulled the rare road win in this series, blanking the Irish 4-0. These are some spectacular rosters. There were three US U-19 champions with the Broncos and two Canadian runners-up with Notre Dame. Cat Sigler played her one game in this series for the Irish, and sophomore transfer Megan Kakadelas made her first appearance for the Bronocs. This was SCU’s first win of the season and the first at Notre Dame. Despite a strange start to the season, Santa Clara would beat UNC in the semis and fall to Portland in the Final. Notre Dame fell to Stanford in the third round. Notre Dame 4, Santa Clara 3.

September 21, 2003, Notre Dame claimed its road win, 2-1. Goals came from Boland, Thorlakson, and Dalmy. SCU bowed out of the postseason in a quarterfinal loss to UNC, and Notre Dame struggled, falling in the second round to Michigan. Notre Dame 5, Santa Clara 3.

September 5, 2004 marked a return to South Bend and a return to the home team winning. Notre Dame, ranked #2, beat #4 Santa Clara 5-2. Katie Thorlakson notched a hat trick and two assists, with those goals going to Jen Buczkowski and Candace Chapman. Seniors Leslie Osborne and Megan Kakadelas scored for the Broncos. Notre Dame was pretty much on fire, ending the season by beating SCU in the semifinals 1-0, then conquered UCLA in PKs to win the championship. Notre Dame 7, Santa Clara 3.

“It sure is great when a plan comes together.” Sort of ridiculous, but hosts Santa Clara (#5/#6) beat top-ranked Notre Dame 2-1, September 5, 2005. Notre Dame’s lone goal was “assisted” by Katie Thorlakson and “scored” by former Irish Cat Sigler. UND and SCU were knocked out in the quarterfinals that year by Portland and Penn State, respectively. Notre Dame 7, Santa Clara 4.

September 3, 2006, two No. 1 ranked teams met in South Bend. Notre Dame prevailed, 3-1, and charged unbeaten into the final against North Carolina, who took the title 2-1. Santa Clara’s serious streak of injury woes began this season, and the Broncos fell in the first round of the postseason to USC. Notre Dame 8, Santa Clara 4.

The following season proved strange (and bittersweet) for both teams. Santa Clara hosted on September 7, 2007, and posted a 7-1 win over Notre Dame. Brittany Klein scored twice unassisted, and Kiki Bosio scored and assisted twice. The Broncos once again dropped in the first round, this time to Cal. Notre Dame posted a few losses, then turned its game around and headed towards the Final Four, only to fall in the semis to Florida State. Notre Dame 8, Santa Clara 5.

2008’s 2-0 result wasn’t as bad as it could have been. August 31, the two teams met in South Bend in a game that was actually webcast! Erica Iantorno scored for the Irish, and Dani Potts put in an own goal for the Broncos. Still, it was more fun than the rest of the season would be. Santa Clara got progressively worse and missed the postseason entirely, and Notre Dame broke my heart in a 2-1 loss to North Carolina in the Final. Thank God for the US U-20s that year. Notre Dame 9, Santa Clara 5.

September 11, 2009, at Santa Clara – Notre Dame was ranked 5th in the nation, and Santa Clara wasn’t even a top 25 at that point, due to a terrible 2008 and an iffy start to 2009. The Broncos won, 2-0. The recap opens with a bold statement that proved startlingly true through the end of the season: “The Santa Clara women’s soccer team made a statement to the nation this evening; the Broncos are back.” Jordan Angeli and Lauren Matheson scored for the Broncos. Notre Dame, awesome as ever with its media, offered a thorough preview and recap. I highly recommend taking video wherever you can get it. The Irish finished the season by falling to UNC in the semis (not surprising, as wasn’t a particularly good year for them), and the Broncos fought well, even through a third round 1-0 loss to unbeaten Stanford. Notre Dame 9, Santa Clara 6.

Notre Dame hosts the 2010 match-up September 3. Technically, it should be an Irish win, but only if you believe the trends. And either way, if you can appreciate both teams, what is there to lose

Closing the book on the 2010 U-20 Women’s World Cup

I have been remiss about wrapping up the U-20 Women’s World Cup, but the results were as foretold. Germany thrashed Korea Republic 5-1 in the semis, and Nigeria advanced to the Championship Game 1-0 over Columbia. Then Germany proceeded to claim the gold in a 2-0 game. They are the first hosts to win the cup (previously, only Canada got close, taking second in the inaugural tournament). Korea Republic concluded by beating Columbia 1-0.

Every year except 2004, the same player to win the adidas Golden Boot has also won the adidas Golden Ball. In 2010, those honors go to Alexandra Popp. FIFA’s Fair Play award goes to Korea Republic, which is the sort of thing that makes me laugh.

adidas Gold, Silver and Bronze Balls
adidas Golden Ball: Alexandra Popp (GER, who won 50.79% of votes from the accreditied media at the event)
adidas Silver Ball: Ji So-Yun (KOR, 14.66%)
adidas Bronze Ball: Kim Kulig (GER, 9.16%)

adidas Gold, Silver and Bronze Shoes
adidas Golden Boot:  Alexandra Popp (GER) – 10 goals
adidas Silver Boot: Ji So-Yun (KOR) – 8 goals
adidas Bronze Boot: Sydney Leroux (USA) – 5 goals

My, how the mighty have fallen.

However, the US did not finish the tournament completely empty handed and disgraced. FIFA showed the love to Santa Clara’s Bianca Henninger–and really, how could they not? She is an incredible goalkeeper, without peer in her age group.

Adidas Golden Glove
American goalkeeper Bianca Henninger showed throughout the tournament that she is very much the number one, and not just for the USA U-20 team. The 19-year-old was in sparkling form as soon as she got to Germany, and conceded only one goal during the group stage. Defeat finally came, but only after penalties against Nigeria in the quarter-finals. A calming presence, she is also rock-solid when it comes to catching crosses, and communicates well with her defenders.

This, despite the USA’s loss in penalty kicks. As I’ve said, this wasn’t lost on saves; this was lost on the inability to convert and score. (Was there a reason Henninger wasn’t lined up to take a PK?) The Bronco captain-slash-keeper was one of the best parts of this entire mess, and I hope she can charge unshaken into the fall season.

Now, a word from Coach Tony DiCicco

I was looking for some old research materials this morning and came across Tony DiCicco’s in-depth recap of the US U-20s 2008 campaign, in which they won gold at the World Cup in Chile. The 100+ page report opens with this really great reminder:

However, we cannot confuse our success in 2008 with “everything is right with USA girls’ and women’s soccer.” […] the fact is we are losing ground in the women’s game worldwide.

Emphasis his, not mine. This recap came right after the US won gold at the Olympics and at the U-20 level, and the U-17 won silver in their inaugural tournament.

I have a love-hate relationship with this document. I am not a fan of DiCicco and I don’t like how he handles players, but I don’t think that makes his overall assessment wrong. I really do appreciate how he broke everything down in this document and gave a frank assessment of the team over the course of the year that he had them.

And to think I was planning to write about the Pac-10…

Before the Cross-Conference Collector became the two-person, two-pronged project that it is today, it was my personal return to sports blogging. I’ve had an off and on relationship with such things over the years, but “Cross-Conference Collector” is the name that has stuck since 2008. These seven or eight months of working on the project with Joan are the most consistent that I’ve ever been with the blog.

For me, the name of this blog has personal significance. It stems from my preference for college sports and my affinity for conferences. I like that breakdown, I like the way it functions, and I like the way those affiliations and borders function. So, mainly, the name of the blog referred to how I “collect” teams to follow in various conferences, and that’s how I get to know those conferences and the teams within them.

But with the two of us here, “Cross-Conference” takes on added meaning. Joan is a Portland Pilots fan, and I, for all that I collect college teams, am first and foremost a Santa Clara Broncos fan. Portland and SCU are West Coast Conference schools, and both are religiously affiliated. In fact, all of the schools in the conference are affiliated with Christian denominations (mostly Catholic and most of those, Jesuit).

The SCU-Portland match-up is one of most important games of every fall season. These two schools are consistently the top of the conference. They have both won the national championship. Santa Clara has, on occasion, beaten UNC. This is the in-conference rivalry, and it’s generally televised. Are there other women’s college soccer rivalries that get that honor?

This year, our game is at Santa Clara on Sunday, October 24, on ESPNU. Regardless of how the rest of the season goes–Dear God, please spare the Broncos’ ligaments this year–this is the game Cross-Conference looks forward to.

On the day of the U-20 WWC semifinals

Closing in on the semis with the US knocked out, I’m not surprised that there isn’t much to say on the US front. The WNT blog has yet to say “That’s a wrap,” although it does indirectly bring up a great possibility. Could Teresa Noyola play for Mexico, if she wanted to? Wouldn’t that be awesome? The US doesn’t seem to want her, and Mexico does have that US-based contingent.

I do have one US U-20 link to share, regarding Mollie Pathman and getting me ready for the NCAA season.

Everything else is from FIFA, but it seemed unfair to stop relinking their news just because Mexico is out of the tournament. Skipping the 2011 mascot crap, we have…

NCAA women’s soccer season is right around the corner

Today we recorded our 10th podcast, and unfortunately most of the women’s soccer news from the past week is bad. We didn’t have much of a chance to talk about the upcoming NCAA season or preview it, even though that would have cheered us right up.

To make up for all the crap the Chicago Red Stars and US U-20 WNT put us through in the past week, I want to share my college soccer happy place: that brief period between the official announcement of the incoming recruits and the beginning of preseason when we are blissfully unaware of injury and illness. We also get to chuckle over the Santa Clara Broncos’ ridiculous number of captains. Four this year, via Facebook:

Congrats to our 2010 Team Captains: Lindsey Johnson, Kendra Perry, Allie Vernon and Bianca Henninger. Thanks for accepting the challenge.

What a challenge that is, too. I adore this team and all their little quirks. You have to laugh about the past four years or you will drown in your tears. The preseason delusion is that all of these Broncos will be healthy and fit to contribute for at least half of the season.

Counting down the days.