This weekend women’s soccer players, coaches and fans has been waiting for has finally arrived. Four teams – Virginia, Texas A&M, Florida State and Stanford – will converge on FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla., to compete for the NCAA Championship at the Women’s College Cup beginning Friday.
There is a 75 percent chance that a team will claim its first title Sunday as the foursome owns just one championship between them – Stanford in 2011. Florida State is making its eighth – and fourth consecutive – Women’s College Cup appearance, while Stanford has advanced for the seventh time and first time since 2012. Virginia is at the College Cup for the third time overall and second consecutive year, and Texas A&M is making its first-ever trip.
The field features three of the top eight scoring offenses in the nation, including Virginia, which paces the NCAA with 3.54 goals per game.
The Cavaliers and Aggies will tangle in Friday’s first national semifinal at 5 p.m., while the Seminoles and Cardinal will face off at 7:30 p.m. in the second semifinal. The winners will meet at 1 p.m. Sunday in the NCAA title match. All three games of the Women’s College Cup will be televised live on ESPNU or fans can follow the games live on NCAA.com.
Here’s a closer look at the four Women’s College Cup participants:
Women’s College Cup appearance: 3rd
NCAA Championships: 0
The Cavaliers boast the nation’s most prolific scoring offense at 3.54 goals per game and have outscored their opponents 20-1 in their first four NCAA Tournament contests. A trio of MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalists pace the Cavaliers offensively. Junior MakenzyDoniak leads the team and the ACC with 49 points (19 goals, 11 assists), which is a single-season school record. Senior Morgan Brian has contributed 10 goals and 13 assists and is the leading scorer in this year's NCAA Tournament with four goals and eight assists for 16 points. Senior Danielle Colaprice set the school’s single-season assist record with 18, which is also the most by an ACC player since 2007. Virginia also fields a solid defensive club, allowing just 0.58 goals per game along with 12 shutouts. Goalkeeper Morgan Stearns anchors the defense. The Cavaliers’ only losses of the year were a pair of 1-0 setbacks to ACC foe Florida State.
X-Factor:Virginia is coming off their biggest win of the season – and arguably the biggest by any squad – after a 2-1 victory over top-ranked UCLA in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Cavaliers snapped the Bruins’ 44-game unbeaten streak and will look to ride that momentum into Friday’s contest.
Texas A&M (22-2-2)
Women’s College Cup appearance: 1st
NCAA Championships: 0
The Aggies are riding a 14-game (13-0-1) unbeaten streak into Friday’s semifinal match – the program’s first-ever Women’s College Cup appearance. Seniors Kelley Monogueand Shea Groom have registered 44 and 39 points, respectively. Texas A&M is one of only three teams in the nation that have two players with at least 35 points, joined by East Tennessee State and Hofstra. The Aggies, who rank third in the nation with 70 goals, are one of just two squads in Division I with six different players who have scored six goals this season. Senior Allie Bailey has tallied a career-high 10 goals – half of which have come in the NCAA Tournament, including two in the quarterfinal victory against Penn State. While the offense is one of the best in the nation, A&M’s defense has posted a 0.91 goals against average. However, senior goalkeeper Jordan Day, who sat out almost half the season due to an injury, recorded seven saves against the Nittany Lions in the 2-1 win last week and has compiled a 0.64 goals against average on the season.
X-Factor: Texas A&M’s senior leadership is what sets the Aggies apart from the field. The group of nine seniors, including seven starters, has posted the best four-year record in A&M history. They also have accounted for 90 percent of the squad’s goals and 75 percent of the team’s assists this season.
Florida State (21-1-1)
Women’s College Cup appearance: 8th
NCAA Championships: 0
After falling to UCLA in the NCAA Championship match last year, the Seminoles are back at the College Cup for the fourth consecutive year and enter the weekend on a 19-game unbeaten streak. FSU’s eight College Cup appearances ties UCLA for the most by any school since 2003. Florida State has outscored opponents 14-0 in its first four NCAA Tournament contests. Junior transfer Cheyna Williams leads the Seminoles in the NCAA postseason with eight points on four goals. Senior midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir and sophomore Berglind Thorvaldsdottir, both natives of Iceland, have combined for 49 goals and 18 assists over the last two seasons.Brynjarsdottir paces FSU with 16 goals this season, while Thorvaldsdottir follows with 12 scores. At least one of the two have scored a goal in 21 of FSU’s 24 matches in 2014.Brynjarsdottir and senior defenseman Kristin Grubka are MAC Hermann Trophy semifinals. Florida State has posted 17 shutouts in 24 matches this year to tie a school record set in 2012. Freshman goalkeeper Cassie Miller has played every minute this season, compiling a 0.37 goals against average, which ranks second in the nation, while leading the Seminoles to a season-record 17 shutouts.
X-Factor: Florida State’s trip to Boca Raton is just six hours south, much closer than any other team in the field. It won’t be surprising if the crowd favors the home state Seminoles.
Women’s College Cup appearance:7th
NCAA Championships: 1 (2011)
The Cardinal returns to the College Cup for the sixth time in seven seasons and first time since 2012 after surviving its quarterfinal match against Florida in penalty kicks. Stanford’s stellar defense started the season with a school-record nine consecutive shutouts and has posted a 0.48 goals against average this season with sophomore goalkeeper Jane Campbell anchoring the squad. While Lo’eau LaBonta paces the Cardinal with 13 goals and 31 points, 12 different players have scored for the nation’s 19th best offense. In addition to LaBonta, three players have netted at least eight goals: Chioma Ubogagu (10), Taylor Uhl (10) and Ryan Walker-Hartshorn (8). Uhl, the nation’stop career goal-scorer with 58, has scored all 10 of her goals in Stanford’s past 10 matches. The Cardinal’s lone loss came to No. 1 UCLA on Oct. 9, but they are 10-0-1 since the setback, including the penalty kick contest against Florida (a 2-2 tie) last weekend.
X-Factor: Stanford’s calling card in the postseason has been close calls. In the first round, Stanford rallied from a 2-0 deficit by scoring five goals in the final 30 minutes for a 5-2 victory over Cal State Fullerton. In the second and third rounds, the Cardinal hung on for 1-0 victories over Arkansas and Washington after netting first-half goals. Last week, in the quarterfinal, Stanford outlasted Florida in penaltykicks after tying, 2-2. If they can keep up their never-say-die approach, the Cardinal has a great chance to take home its second NCAA trophy.