Boston College beats UNC (aka Thursday was a good night to be a DiMartino)

September 1, 2007, South Carolina opened the season against North Carolina in Chapel Hill. 16 minutes into the match, the Gamecocks score. That single goal was enough to end No. 1 UNC’s 27 game winning steak and hand the Tar Heels an historical first-ever loss in the home opener. And sure, I was happy for South Carolina, but I was more pumped that they at beaten UNC at UNC. The Tar Heels had plenty of time to come back and put the usual hurting on their opponents, but they didn’t.

In women’s college soccer, the giant slayers are few and far between. So the slaying is sweeter when it’s a team that I’ve been through the ups and downs with. In 2007, UNC lost three games in the regular season (South Carolina, William & Mary, and Miami), but none of those mattered as much as Notre Dame’s arrival in Chapel Hill in the third round of the postseason. 2007 was “rough” on UNC and none too gentle on Notre Dame. I was at Penn State-West Virginia when news came that the Irish had knocked the Tar Heels out of the tournament. While my glee was tempered by the Penn State loss, this is still one of the highlights of 2007 for me–despite Notre Dame’s painful semifinal loss to Florida State.

Yesterday, while most of my twitter feed was fixated on the WPS semifinal between Philadelphia and Boston, I was watching the scoreline and minutes for the Boston College-North Carolina game. UNC had a 2-2 draw earlier this season with Stanford, one of the strongest and most talented teams in the NCAA this year. That was the Tar Heels’ 2010 blemish until last night’s 3-2 loss at home to Boston College.

BC opened this season with a 1-1 draw at home against Stanford. Since then, they have won every game. Granted, until last week, the Eagles’ most significant opponent was probably Boston University (no slouch this year with Kevorkian on the roster). But BC didn’t struggle against Rutgers and did come from behind twice before taking down the No. 1.

The recaps and articles are worth reading. This game was a significant victory for a team that is in its second season as serious contenders, and this win should cement that.

Boston College won with a complete effort. It won because DiMartino, Mewis and Mastroianni may be among the 15 or 20 best players in the nation. It won because its back line, particularly the unsung combination of Beyar and Alyssa Pember on the left side, has now hung for 180 minutes with the best Stanford and North Carolina had to offer. It won with role players such as Natalie Crutchfield, the speed merchant off the bench who changed the tempo when she came on as a first-half substitute.

It won because, at least on this night, it was a better than No. 1.

Quick points from the Boston College-Rutgers game

Looks like Rutgers head coach Glenn Crooks is not happy with his team’s performance yesterday. Rutgers fell 3-1 to Boston College (ranked 4th in the nation). I would handwave the scoreline and “L” for this game–take issue with that Seton Hall loss on Friday!–but I agree, Rutgers made it easy on BC for most of the game. The visitors dominated without needing to put in much effort. Jonelle Filigno was the only consistent offensive presence for the Scarlet Knights, and you need more than one (albeit very good) player to compete with a defense like that. If this is the usual for Rutgers this year, then Filigno is going to be exhausted by the time the season ends.

Jillian Mastroianni (a US U-23) was a commanding presence in back for Boston College, although she was mostly unchallenged in this contest. She was vocal particularly at the start of the game, and she was called upon to make a few saves. However, in the closing seconds, she gave up BC’s second goal of the season:

At one point during the second half (I think), Mastroianni got in a footrace with a Rutgers player, chasing the ball way out of her box instead of clearing it. Very amusing for us and probably scary for the Eagles to see; confidence can only get you so far before it becomes reckless.

Victoria DiMartino had a decent game. It was definitely a better showing than she gave for the U-20s this year. No offsides, only hit the wood two or three times, took eight shots and assisted on the first goal. Similar to Filigno, she seems to be the main striker, but she has much more support (and BC definitely has other forward options). It was very interesting to see the offensive dynamic for BC, particularly how DiMartino and fellow U-20 Kristie Mewis factored in. Mewis, also with five shots and an assist (the third goal), did a great job of linking up DiMartino and the rest of the forwards.

Altogether, the BC-Rutgers women’s game was a good experience and good way to see both of these teams in person for the first time. I even took some video. The weather was good, the traffic wasn’t bad, and there were a fair amount of fans for both the home team and visitors. The game was the first of a double-header with the men’s team, which we didn’t stick around for. We passed by the field later while that match was still going on, and the crowd had shrunk considerably.  Have to admit, I was a little smug over that.

WPS Philadelphia-Washington, or NCAA Boston College-Rutgers?

Last year, I made it to six regular season WPS games, one regular season W-League game, and the W-League final.  I didn’t manage to attend any NCAA games, missing my chance to see UCLA at Illinois because of the rain that weekend.

This year, I made it to one preseason WPS/NCAA game (Chicago at Illinois), four regular season WPS games (three of which were FC Gold Pride road games!), and now my WPS season is over. My personal attendance is definitely down. Philadelphia is hosting the first round of the WPS playoffs, but I am (somewhat) superstitious when I am emotionally invested in a game. So I already have plans to attend Boston College-Rutgers in New Jersey instead. These two teams have both started the season strong, with the exception of Rutgers’ strange loss to Monmouth at home.

BC is probably the better-known team these days. Last year, they had an incredible season, both in the ACC and NCAA.  The roster is peppered with US youth national team players (U-20 and U-23), and I would guess they are due at least one player from the 2010 U-17 squad. Boston College is currently ranked 5th in the nation, owing their undefeated season largely to junior goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni.

Rutgers is a respectable Big East team that doesn’t draw much attention lately. There are a few Canadian WNT and YNT players on the roster, namely Jonelle Filigno, a redshirt freshman with strong showings for both her national team and U-20 squad in 2008. This season, she has scored three goals, assisted two, and converted a PK for Rutgers. She is joined by Shannon Woeller (CWNT and U-20 team), Karla Schacher (U-20 team in 2008), and Rheanne Sleiman (U-20 in 2008 and 2006). Schacher has also added two goals this season. Their starting keeper is redshirt sophomore Emmy Simpkins.

Boston College has to take on UNC next, and Rutgers will ease into conference play by sandwiching BC between match-ups with Seton Hall and Georgetown. So this will be the last non-conference game for both teams. It will also be my first time seeing either of them in person, which is a great way for me to start the travel portion of my season. Brand new, exciting, and full of potential.

Much less nerve wracking than Philly trying to lay a smackdown on DC without giving the game away through silly fouls.

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.

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.

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…

Recapping the U-20 WWC quarterfinals

My first trip to FIFA.com this morning and what do I see? Fatigue blamed for USA failureare you joking me, Heif Ellis? Does anyone really believe that? Sure, this team was probably fatigued, but that is a cheap excuse for the failure. Were they fatigued in qualifiers? Were they fatigued in that first game against Ghana, through all the rest of group play? If fatigue is to blame, then that just backs up the heart of the issue: this wasn’t the team the US was looking for. The force was not strong with these players. Jill Ellis cannot discern when it’s a trap. Need I go on?

This picture from the USWNT blog describes the US U-20s' performance perfectly. I agree, Nairn.

Let’s have some links.

July 29, Semifinals (in Eastern time)

  • 9:30 AM – Germany vs Korea Republic
  • 12:30 PM – Columbia vs Nigeria

Are we done with the 2010 US U-20s yet?

I’m getting bored of talking about how bad the US roster, starters, and subs were this tournament. I am really disappointed in the captains’/veterans’ play; they both performed better in 2008. I still think Henninger is one of the top two keepers in the US at this age level. Quon was injured, hopefully not badly. Verloo, Noyola, and DiMartino disappeared on the bench. Hayes subbed in and out. Kristie Mewis did her best, but it’s hard to play 1 v 11. Even the defense broke down as the tournament progressed. Et cetera.

It’s hard to deny that you can evenly distribute the “blame” among the players and the coach. I like Ellis, but her work with the 2010 U-20s is like Gabarra’s work with the 2010 Washington Freedom. Decent players, good on paper… shabby results. That’s fine at UCLA, but not on the ladder to the US Women’s National Team.

It’s a horrible thing for a US (and U-20) fan to say, but I’m glad this team is out of the running. This wasn’t a strong team to begin with–like I said, as far back as qualifiers. The problems weren’t fixed. The results were telling.

Mexico is playing Korea Republic right now, and although they are down 3-0 to the AFC side, the Mexicans are still playing better than the US did. They are overmatched, clearly, but they are consistent. Cuellar, Corral, and Santiago haven’t given up. They will lose, and despite the scoreline, it won’t be an embarrassing stumble backwards for their program.

[A very quick edit: yes, Mexico’s Gomez Junco scored as this post was publishing, so nya! No frustration, not giving up.]

The U-20 WWC knockout rounds begin!

Tumblr is having difficulties this morning, so it’s time for another post o’ links. Today is game day for Germany-Korea DPR and Sweden-Columbia (is Sweden already down by 2?) and the only one I’m sorry I’ll be missing is Germany-DPRK.

Let’s look at US business first, since I have been ignoring them.

I’d like to highlight the commentary we’ve been getting from the ESPN3 webcasts. The commentary on the Mexican games has been wonderful (especially if you’re sick of FSC’s WPS games). One quote, which I cannot remember word for word, essentially boiled down to, “If you’re struggling with the pronunciation of names, ask the players and coaches.” In the game against Nigeria, after a sub came on, it was, “There are two Sundays in the game now… suppose that makes it a fortnight.” If you are going to commentate a women’s soccer game, you have to relax and enjoy it.

Here is the FIFA business:

By the end of all this collecting, Sweden has not managed to come back. 2-0, Columbia advance. Time for me and the Swedes to pack and hit the road!