Women’s College Cup 2016 is set
NCAA’s women’s soccer is down to its last four teams and Friday marks the kickoff of the women’s College Cup 2016.
The final four will take place in San Jose, California after it was moved from its originally planned home of North Carolina. Due to the anti-LGBTQ legislation that has made news in the state, the NCAA moved the tournament to the west coast.
Whether the change of venue will help or hinder one of the remaining four remains to be seen. What is known, however, is that North Carolina will be fighting for its 22nd NCAA championship.
Which team has the best shot at winning the 2016 #WCollegeCup?
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) November 28, 2016
The tournament will also feature two debutantes in the College Cup as Georgetown and West Virginia make their first appearances in the final four.
USC and West Virginia both had the good fortune of surviving penalty shootouts on the way to the College Cup. Meanwhile, Georgetown played their first four NCAA tournament matches at home, benefiting in front of its home supporters.
Georgetown and West Virginia’s debuts mark only the second time in the last 20 years that two universities will debut in the final four in the same season. Over the last two decades, the final four has seen stability in familiar names. The 2016 edition of the tournament shows the change in power in NCAA women’s college soccer.
— WVU Women's Soccer (@wvuwomenssoccer) November 26, 2016
Georgetown’s road to the final four has seen the Hoyas keep four clean sheets. The team hasn’t scored many goals, but have done it with defense in the NCAA tournament.
The Hoyas will face North Carolina in its semifinal. The Tar Heels’ defense has also kept four clean sheets on the way to the final four. North Carolina’s attack has tallied the same number of goals as Georgetown in the tournament (seven).
This semifinal will come down to defense, and whether or not the teams’ playmakers can unlock the other’s backline. Georgetown do have a crafty midfielder that can unlock the Tar Heel’s rearguard. Rachel Corboz recorded 16 assists and 11 goals this season.
In North Carolina’s corner is the fact it won on the road to get to this point. Something none of the other sides did.
— Georgetown W Soccer (@HoyasWSoc) November 29, 2016
The Trojans defense was nearly as solid as its College Cup rivals, keeping three clean sheets from a possible four. Perhaps unexpectedly, the team that did score against them was Eastern Washington.
However, USC was able to keep shutouts against Texas A&M, Utah and Auburn. Against Texas A&M, the ladies had to hold their nerve and win a penalty shootout.
— USC Women's Soccer (@USC_WSoccer) November 25, 2016
USC will call on former two-time National High School Player of the Year Morgan Andrews. The midfielder has 21 goals in 45 games.
Andrews could be the player that finally ends West Virginia’s dream season.
West Virginia spent much of the NCAA women’s soccer season as the No. 1 ranked team in the country. The Lady Mountaineers got a scare in the third round of the tournament, just squeezing past UCLA on penalties.
West Virginia’s defense has been flawless in the team’s other three fixture, however. It has given up just one goal in the team’s four games.
— WVU Women's Soccer (@wvuwomenssoccer) November 30, 2016
Comes down to defense
This season women’s College Cup comes down to defense. With all four teams keeping shutouts for much of their runs through the tournament, it is safe to say the final four will not see many goals.
North Carolina goalkeeper Lindsey Harris has recorded 91 saves this season and is the backbone to North Carolina’s strong spine. If her form continues, it will be a difficult weekend for the Tar Heels’ opponents.
Learn how North Carolina goalkeeper Lindsey Harris earned the nickname "Jedi". pic.twitter.com/cJKmaxGema
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) November 29, 2016
NCAA College Cup – Semifinals
December 2, 2016
North Carolina vs. West Virginia – 5:00pm
Georgetown vs. USC – 7:30pm