Soccer Monday with Annie Peterson, March 25, 2019

March Madness edition! Oh wait, this is soccer. Plus must-click links and a few words from Ashlyn Harris, post-SheBelieves

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It’s March Madness! Ok, so it’s not soccer. But forgive me in advance if this is an abbreviated version of Soccer Monday. I’m in the midst of covering two sub-regionals in Eugene and Corvallis before the Portland Regional next weekend. I’m at the Gonzaga-Oregon State game tonight.

I realize that a lot of our readers also follow women’s college basketball, so I just want to reflect for a moment on Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu.

As y’all know, I’m been at this for a number of years. For some of you oldsters out there, one of the best pure athletes I ever covered in the game was Kristen Folkl, who played both basketball and volleyball at Stanford. She went on to play for the U.S. national volleyball team for a time. Let me tell you, playing two sports at Stanford is no easy task, especially if one of those sports is coached by Tara VanDerveer, who demands focus and attention.

Sabrina is on a whole other level.

I gotta admit, I’m a.) a little bit jaded, and b.) at deadline I have to really focus on the story and making sure all the elements are there. But when Ionescu grabbed her own rebound last night in the last minutes of the Ducks’ win over Indiana for her 18th triple-double, I gasped and jumped up from my seat. So did everyone else at Matthew Knight Arena.

If that was her last game at MKA she sure made it memorable.

While I can’t really believe that soccer isn’t accommodating MY busy schedule, this was a busy week — again — in the sport.

Probably the most significant news globally was Barclay’s sponsorship of the Women’s Super League, a deal that’s worth $13.2 million.

This is significant on so many levels, but a sponsorship like Barclay’s is a signal that women’s soccer is making significant gains. Combine it with those huge crowds for matches in Europe and there’s reason for excitement. It will be interesting if the momentum is sustained after France.

Wouldn’t it be great if a U.S. company, or better yet, companies, made the same commitment to the NWSL? Maybe even just a TV contract? For gosh sakes ESPN was showing people playing video games the other day.

The other big thing was Ali Krieger. Not only did she get engaged, but she got a call-up to the national team. I feel that this was long overdue. While I don’t necessarily see her as a starter, her experience means she’s great insurance to have on the bench. The defensive miscues that the team had in the SheBelieves Cup makes this a smart move.

It also shows that perhaps Jill Ellis isn’t done tinkering, as I had previously thought.

OK, with that I gotta bolt for more hoops. On to the links.

This Week in Women’s Soccer

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

YOU GUYS! If you aren’t following the Players’ Week series at The Equalizer you are seriously missing out. Really. Steph McCaffrey. Joanna Lohman. Emily Menges. Michelle Betos. Yael Averbuch. So much goodness. This was a wonderful idea and executed really well.

A few from AP, since I benefit from the clicks!

Juventus sets the record for the biggest crowd for a women’s match in club history, from my colleague Daniella Matar.

PSG is backing its fans over allegations of violence before their Champions League match against Chelsea. The drama! I think hooliganism is deplorable, for the record. But interesting that it’s crept into the women’s game. Is it a sign that the game is growing, or just proof that people want an excuse to cause mayhem?

Actual sign the game is growing: Fox is using five teams to cover the World Cup.

Ali Krieger is back! Here’s AP’s story, which I wrote. But I usually don’t take bylines on these process stories.

Sophie Jones was fired. Good. Zero tolerance.

In case you were wondering, no artificial turf will be allowed at the 2023 World Cup, from my colleague Rob Harris.

The Barclay’s deal.

The Washington Post’s Steven Goff on women’s soccer at a turning point.

The Atlantic on why the U.S. women have a point with the discrimination lawsuit. One of my favorite writers, Dave Zirin, with his take for The Nation.

The Worcester Telegram got Kristine Lilly’s take on the lawsuit.

The Los Angeles Times broke the story about the strange case of Lauren Isackson’s spot on UCLA’s soccer team.

The men’s national team weighs in on the lawsuit.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: USWNT Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris

I’m so busy with hoops that I wasn’t able to talk to anyone this week, soccerwise. But I never really used any of the comments I got post-SheBelieves from Ashlyn Harris. Seems appropriate to share them here, since I already gave a shout-out to Krieger.

Plus she references BANTER.

Q: There were record crowds in Tampa, what does it mean to have the support?

Ashlyn: “I always hear them I hear them cheering my name behind me and it feels so good because I work my ass off every single day to have moments like these and to know I have the city the state, his country behind me, it means a lot. A lot more than people think so. I’m very grateful for our fans.

“I could tell my teammates were very confident in me back there, and that’s a really good feeling. You know for me it’s just about making things look easy. And I want my teammates to feel the utmost confidence with any three of us goalkeepers in goal. I think we have an incredible goalkeeper unit. At any moment any any of us can step in and have big performances and play in big games and make impacts. And I think that’s what we’re showed. It’s a collective effort every day, we work our tails off every single day, and only one gets to play and that’s difficult. So, I’m proud to put in a good performance but I also spend countless hours preparing for moments like these. My job is to make one big save that changes the game. It’s our job as a goalkeeper is to make that one say that keeps us in it. And I do my job. “

Q: Was it kind of satisfying for you to get save off of Marta’s free kick considering she’s your teammate?

Ashlyn: “You know I I train Marta every single day. And I still have no idea what she’s going to throw at me. She’s one of those players, anything can happen at any given moment. And that is the joy I get, every single day, to play with her. It’s pretty cool to say I play with one of the best players in the world.

“I can’t I can’t wait to rub it in when I see her. Oh there’s banter all the time and she gets so riled up. “

Q: Jill was saying how it was really important to get the clean sheets to allow the attack to give you an opportunity. Did you see some of the improvements that she has been harping on and that you guys have been working on?

Ashlyn: “Yeah absolutely, absolutely. We we we needed to be better in the first two games we were giving up goals and we were giving up chances. You know, this is part of building into the World Cup. It is more important for us at this stage to get exposed so we can learn from it and build, than skate through all these tournaments and never have any hiccups and never have any issues and then feel it in the World Cup. So this is so important for us. We’re taking so much away from this tournament. Are we pissed that we weren’t standing up on that podium? Hell yeah we’re pissed. But we took a lot of good and bad things away from this tournament and we’re going to be better off come time in France than we would have been if we would’ve been if we won this thing.”

Q: A lot of the narrative out there is that there’s still tweaking and testing going on with the roster. Is that a concern for you guys internally?

Ashlyn: “No. I mean we have such a deep roster. We have incredible players, incredible talent. And at any given moment whatever this team needs, the players are ready and capable of stepping in and doing their job. Rose couldn’t go and Sam stepped in and she is she did her job. I needed to fill the role as the goalkeeper and I did it seamlessly, and that’s a testament to how good this team actually is. We we nailed down every single detail you can possibly imagine. So we bring something important to games. It’s not a drop off because we don’t have our starting club. That doesn’t exist here.”

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Annie Peterson